You have to sit and read this one through.
If you're lucky enough to live near Long Beach, you need to try this taco stand. Let me explain from the beginning. First of all, CantStayJose and I stay away from chain restaurants (though he does have a weak spot for Wienerschnitzel). We've driven by this spot, Tacos Don Chente, for a couple of years now and we've never EVER eaten here. Barely even gave it a thought.
Tacos Don Chente is like 3 minutes from our pads and just by the clean and refined looks of it and having multiple locations around Southern CA, it just doesn't make it very interesting for us. A lot of times these are all signs of a generic taco. That's where we were wrong. WRONG.
Jose had been bugging me about sampling a taco from this spot for a couple of days at this point. "You gotta try the taco stand OUTSIDE of Don Chente, holmes. Not inside the restaurant, it's the tacos thats OUTSIDE at the taco stand on the street..." Jose had already been here twice in a row and on the third night, I finally gave in. Is Jose just trippin? Maybe he's just trying to make an excuse for me to come hang out? He was very persistent about the Al Pastor. So finally I had some time to do some pakajunk-investigations:
As I had walked up it was evident that Senor Jose already had a relationship with the two cooks. No one was around but they were busy getting everything together. The smell was amazing. As usual, I had Jose inquire about what was available. If you don't speak Spanish, most taco stands won't tell you EVERYTHING they have. If you ask in English, they'll tell you "beef, chicken, pork." And they'll serve you Carne Asada, the standard grilled Pollo and usually Carnitas. If you speak Spanish, they will tell you they also have Lengua, Cabeza, Al Pastor, etc. etc.
So if you're ever hitting up a taco stand, make sure you ask what they have beyond the usual fair that they feed all the lames.
Immediately I went for what all the fuss was about. I started with two Al Pastor tacos. This is where I saw a big chunk of heaven. As you can see below, huge pieces of marinated pork had been rotating and roasting slowly and all it's juices been smothering itself... and as that was happening, HUGE pineapple rings had also been marinating the meat... over and over for hours. Slowly turning, slowly becoming better as the night went on.
Mr. Fantastico, the taco chef, cut off a few pieces off the rotating meat from heaven.
He then fried it up lightly and quickly on his grill.
Then he added some freshly diced onions and cilantro. The tacos they serve also includes delicious grilled onions on the side as well as some crazy hot grilled jalapeno pepper (that I don't advise eating completely if you're not accustomed to it).
Jose couldn't wait for me. He was already getting down.
And here is what I started with, two Al Pastors. You can just about see the grilled onions behind the tacos and the crazy hot peppers of death in front of them.
I think those peppers were called Slayer Peppers or maybe Peppertanic Wehrmacht. They were from the 9th Circle of Hell, Spawn of Satan. Of course I couldn't help but to nibble on them. And the taste of the tacos, well... it was like this. Soon as I bit into it and really TASTED the meat, it surprised me with a quick, sweet flavor of pineapple... yet still be so savory in that Al Pastor way.
I do not say this lightly and I mean every word of this: Best Al Pastor Taco I Had Ever Eaten. You need to go try this. Senor CantStay and I highly recommend it.
Jose dropped me off at home and my hopes of dreams of finding more delicious, locally made tacos were rejuvenated, especially after recent mishaps.
I've been back to this place twice. I think Jose's been back there more than that and for good reason. Amazing, truly amazing. I applaud these guys. Near the corner of Pacific and PCH.
Don't forget, it's their TACO STAND OUTSIDE that's the bomb. I can't tell you anything about what the tacos are like inside the place. So far, this taco stand has been open at night until about 11pm. I'm sure you can call them to ask if the stand is open before you head down there.
Tacos Don Chente
101 W Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA -