Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. And often, the simplest meals are also the most affordable. During a recent visit to Los Angeles a good friend took me a Taqueria he has been eating at for more than 20 years. He lives just south of the 101 in Tarzana, California now but still makes the 10 mile drive over to Rincon Taurino in Panorama City for the tacos, tostadas, and tortas that this little joint is know for. With so many local, low cost choices, I was perplexed why he would drive the distance to eat at such a place. On the way over he described the owner of Rincon Taurino and how long he has known him, the wonderful array of authentic Mexican dishes on the menu, and the long lines outside the place most nights of the week. He joked that on some nights the owner parks his own food truck outside of Rincon Taurino to pick up business from his own overflow, the lines are so long. As we get closer, my mouth begins to water. I love good authentic Mexican food.
When we pull up, things look promising. Rincon Taurino is a freestanding restaurant at the corner of Terra Bella street and Nordoff. It is well kept and clean with large white signs painted with red and blue lettering. Inside, Rincon Taurino is equally clean. The small dining room has a quarry tile floor, light orange walls and seven or eight tables with picnic bench seating. As the name suggests, the décor has a bull fighting theme. There’s more than one mounted bull staring down at you when you enter.
Orders are taken by a cashier through an opening on the right side of a large glass wall at one end of the space. Orders
are picked up on the left side of the same glass wall when finished. Cook time for what we ordered (2 Tacos Al Pastor, 2 Taco Asada, 1 Torta Milanesa, and 1 Tostada Carnitas) was around 5 minutes.
The tacos are a nice little snack with two per portion. They consist of a couple stacked fresh corn tortillas the size of a coffee saucer topped with what ever combination ordered. Of the two types we tried my favorite was the Taco Asada ($2.70 for two) which consisted of fresh grilled marinated beef with diced onions, cilantro and a spicy salsa roja. The meat was cooked and seasoned perfectly and the overall flavors of everything else complimentary. For this price, I could eat six or eight of these.
My favorite item was the Tostada Carnitas ($4.50) which is stacked much higher with fillings at Rincon Taurino than I am used to seeing. Served on a crispy corn tortilla, our
Tostada had a nice thick layer of fresh grilled pork and sauce topped with crisp iceberg lettuce, shaved onion, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and cheese. The portion size was sufficient to feed both of us. With a rich pork flavor, good seasoning and a great contrast in texture between the tortilla, pork, lettuce and avocado, the dish was an absolute delight.
What I like about Rincon Taurino is the care with which the meats are cooked. Each of the items we tried featured meats that were done to perfection. These meats served as the centerpiece of each dish with the rest of the components built around them. For the prices we paid, I can understand why people drive to this place and why the lines are long. Next time you are heading North in LA on the 5 or 405 toward the valley, stop in for a taco or tostada. You’ll be glad you did.