The Reigning Queen Of Street Tacos: La Reyna, Arts District

That La Reyna meat spit.

That La Reyna meat spit.

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's supreme clientele.

La Reyna’s supreme clientele.

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.

Dos tacos. That's spanish for "two tacos".

Dos tacos. That’s spanish for “two tacos”.

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

Senor Fish's $5 Tall Boys Special. What a bargain?

Senor Fish’s $5 Tall Boys Special. What a bargain?

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