Prior to Guisados opening their second location mere minutes away from Elysian parkway, Cactus #2 on Beverly used to be my go-to meal for Dodgers games. I’d stop by to pick up a burrito, maybe a couple of tacos, and an horchata and I’d be set for nine innings of baseball. The boys in blue were off on this particular night, traveling to New York to take on the Yankees, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from feeding into my taco addiction.
Cactus #2 boasts the same wide-ranging menu of Mexican eats as its original location (with plenty of vegetarian-friendly options), but naturally my order was straight tacos. Carne asada was about how I remembered, a bit tough and lacking a good char from the grill, but by all means enjoyable with a splash of salsa roja. Carnitas were underwhelming, dry and tasteless to the point that even adding avocado couldn’t salvage it. The chicharron, on the other hand, was fatty and flavorful, soaking in its own juices and spooned into double-layered tortillas (store bought but they do the job) where sliced jalapeños cooked with the pork skin delivered unexpected jolts of heat. I’ve mentioned before my skepticism of al pastor cooked sans trompo, but Cactus #2 really impressed me with their version, marinated in spices and cooked directly on la plancha. This style of preparation allows the al pastor to get the same crisped edges as it would rotating on the spit, and the rough chop instead of shavings means a more substantial texture.
Though Cactus #2 may never compete for the claim of “Best Taco” in Los Angeles, if the argument changes to most consistent and reliable then it has to be in the discussion. The next time you find yourself heading east, perhaps to catch a summer day game at Chavez Ravine, consider stopping by Cactus #2 and enjoying a few tacos from this Los Angeles mainstay.
*This post was originally written for, and can also be viewed at, Qualmes.com
Cactus Mexican Food #2
4370 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Dine date: Mon 06.17.13, 11:00p