“I’ve never seen a taco truck that offered so many different types of meat,” senior Dhruv Dhall noted as we examined the menu of Los Carnales, an authentic Mexican food truck located near the University of Southern California.
Not a common sight outside of the SoCal Mexican food truck realm, menus like those of Los Carnales offer meat from all body parts — which partially explains the name of this particular food truck. “The Buddies,” supplies a more elaborate variety of meat for the risk-takers who dare to expose their taste palette to more than the typical beef or chicken option.
The menu carries beef ranging from asada, lengua (tongue), tripas (intestines) and cabeza (head), as well as a variety of pork, including chorizo, al pastor (pork belly), buche (pork stomach) and chicharron (pork rinds). Pollo (chicken) and birria (goat) are also available meat options.
Each meat has its own texture, marination and charm; no one type outshone the other for me. Personally, I like to be a bit more adventurous every time I go, so I continue to try several kinds of meat instead of ordering five of the al pastors (which is one of the more popular options) like other customers might.
A gigantic jar of horchata greets the customer at the cash register which, when you consider it, is actually a genius marketing plan because almost all of us ended up purchasing a cup of the milky sweet rice drink. There are also separate tables topped with onions, beans, lime slices and salsas free for the taking alongside your taco. Although there are no dining tables or chairs available, there are linings where the impatiently hungry customers can place their plates and bask in the glory of their food standing up.
Although the truck is located in an unlikely Ross parking lot off of the 110 Highway, customers are usually abundant and bustling. Due to the location of the truck, you’ll most likely hear sporadic sirens throughout your dinner (welcome to downtown Los Angeles), but for us it only adds to the experience. We were also fortunate enough to have one of the employees bust out his guitar and belt out some Spanish tunes as we ate our tacos.
Los Carnales opens at 5 p.m. every day and closes as late as 3 a.m. on the weekends. It’s perfect for those late-night cravings typical of the college student, especially since three to four tacos and a drink comes out to around $5 total. So whether you’re already on an LA outing, or suddenly have a hankering for some authentic Mexican food one night,try out this hidden gem.
You can find Los Carnales at 4403 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.
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As published in the Sept. 5 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.