I’m not a huge fan of the street taco lifestyle. I cringe every time I see groups of street peeps huddled around a street cart, squeezing street limes delicately on their tacos and then stuffing them in their mouths in one street gulp. There’s a part of me that is screaming, “COME ON, YOU GUYS ACT LIKE YOU’RE NEVER SEEN A TACO BEFORE!!!” This must be a cultural thing: Standing around, slurping some strange taco, shoulder-to-shoulder with another stranger’s strange taco. I would much rather take my taco into a dark alley and chew in private.
La Reyna is at 7th and Mateo, across the street from Pizzanista (the purveyors of fine NY-style pizza, owned by professional skater Salman Agah), and two doors away from the newest Señor Fish location (a hoity-toity “cantina” that sells subpar $10 burritos and $16 pastas – Ay Dios mio! And on Tuesdays, which should be a day to consume cheap tacos, they offer $5 cans of beer: “Tall Boy Tuesdays”. This is either a very hip place, or a very confused place.). I had passed by La Reyna countless times on the way home from work, uninterested and disgusted by the scene on the sidewalk. Finally, one night I was hungry enough and willing to try La Reyna out.
I asked the abuela working the salsa station “How much?”, and she held up one finger. I thought “OK, this is a good start”. I asked the guy working the shawarma-style meat spit “What kind of meat?”, and he said “chicken, carne asada, pork, chorizo”. Hmmm, there are options. I asked for two pork, and they gave me two sets of corn tortillas completely covered with mounds of chopped, seasoned pork. I’m already looking at one hell of a value on my paper plate, but there’s more to come.
The salsa station includes an avocado salsa and a ranchera-style tomato-based salsa, and both are made well. But, it is that creamy avocado salsa that really makes that pork sing. Throw in some onions and cilantro, and maybe a couple of radish slices on there, and you’ve got yourself a taco.
La Reyna’s dining room will be closing for good soon. The rumor on the street is that La Reyna is a front for all kinds of illicit activity. I’m assuming that this includes just about anything that’s considered unsavory. But I’ll tell you one thing that isn’t unsavory: Those amazingly savory La Reyna tacos. I would gladly huddle around a meat spit with strangers, just to squeeze a little lime on my La Reyna taco.
La Reyna is located at:
2000 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021