Chowing Down at Thrillist’s Taco Knockout

One great thing about living in SoCal is the access to delicious, delicious tacos. Whether from a restaurant, take out counter or street vendor there are diverse samples of the dish available daily. This past weekend, 9 local vendors met at Lot 613 in the Arts District to participate in Thrillist’s Taco Knockout and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend.

After 4 years in New York City the Taco Knockout made its SoCal debut and it was a resounding success. The tickets sold out in advance and when I arrived the place was humming with activity. The music was pumping, the drinks were flowing and the tacos were just waiting for me to try them.

I was given a passport entitling me to one taco from each of the 9 participating restaurants but, as at most food events, the lines were quite long and I only made my way through half the menu. Luckily, I still managed to try some incredibly delicious tacos.

The Beef Barbacoa Tacos from La Carmencita had the longest line so naturally I had to find out what all the fuss was about. Short rib barbacoa was topped with fresh onions, chile de árbol, adobo, and an aioli made from habanero ashes. They were quite tasty and ended up taking home the championship belt but, I must admit, I found others I liked more.

The Tako Poke Taco from The Standing Room consisted of a handmade blue corn tortilla topped with smoked octopus, chives and roe, It was definitely one of the most unusual tacos I’d ever seen but, boy, was it delicious. The smoky octopus was bathed in a slightly sweet sauce that was enhanced by the salty roe and the sharply flavored chives. A total revelation.

I managed to snag one of the Lengua Tacos from Red O right before they ran out and am I glad I did as it was my absolute favorite of the event. The lengua was simply topped with queso fresco and picked onions and the flavor was amazing. I must admit I’d never eaten it before as the thought of eating tongue kind of grossed me out. Luckily, I put my misgivings aside and enjoyed a most delectable taco.

After gorging on tacos I had to have dessert and, luckily, Choco Taco was on hand serving up the frozen treat. This sweet bit of nostalgia was the perfect capper to a tasty event. Not only did I get to try some delicious dishes but I’ve also discovered some new restaurants I’m dying to visit. I need more lengua tacos!

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