Friday, December 09, 2005
Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do: Tacos El Toro, North Hollywood
Today, I am ending a five year relationship with the San Fernando Valley. Five years of treks up and down the 101. Five years of working in a cubicle rat maze in a building with no windows. Five years of working for some of the stingiest mother fuckers I have ever known. Five years of working at half potential because my personal philosphy is to "work smarter not work harder," and then having it pay off more than once. Five years of working with some awesome people that I've made really good friends with. And last but certainly not least, five years of discovering what epicurean delights the San Fernando Valley has to offer! I will miss the experiences of the last five years dearly, well, maybe except for the stingy mother fuckers and no windows parts.
In just a couple short days, my most-unglamourous career of pulling financial figures out of my ass will take me back over the hill to the even more unglamourous city of...Commerce, CA. Like what the hell is there to do out there? I guess I could hang out with the truck drivers at the nearest Denny's. Or go shopping at the outlet mall. Or lose money at the Commerce Casino. Man, what am I gonna do without Mazzarino's sinful garlic bread? Or the quirky-old-school-seafood-joint-that-makes-you-wanna-go-retire-in-Florida feel of The Oyster House Saloon? Or the convenience and choices of having the entire UN represented on one stretch of street otherwise known as Sherman Way? Without Robin Hood, where will I ever be able to find Fish & Chips that are as close I'll ever find to those in England?
What am I gonna do without lunchtime trips to Porto's Bakery to pick up pastries for dinner? What am I gonna do without the delicious tortas at Tortas Mexico where all the ingredients in that sandwich literally work together as a team? Or when will I ever see waiter-guy-that-has-a-crush-on-my-friend flirt with my friend again at Bollywood Cafe? How will I be able to live without the best-I've-ever-had-service and kick-ass Lebanese food of Skaf's???? Aww man, I had to mention Skaf's...now that's one that breaks my heart just thinking about it.
Yes my friends, today is my last hurrah in the Valley, and to celebrate, I decided to treat myself to a special meal. (No it's not Skaf's...I went there a couple days ago!)
For five years, I've driven by Tacos El Toro, a seedy looking taco joint located across the street from the office. And for five years, I've never been in for whatever reason. Perhaps it was its locale...it's right in front of a sketchy car wash and a bunch of car repair shops. I guess it was meant to be today that I was out of my normal-breakfast-food-as-of-late of Fuji apple and sharp cheddar cheese AND that there was no way I'd eat the nasty Friday chilaquiles at the office cafeteria AND that it was my last chance to try Tacos El Toro. And so, fate would have it that this morning before going onto the office, I made a left turn instead of my usual right turn...straight into the Tacos El Toro parking lot.
As it was morning, I thought that some desayuno would be a good idea and after gazing a few seconds at the color photo "menu" posted above the counter, ordered the huevos con chorizo plate to go. (Yes, I know I've overcome my fear of dining out alone, but I was late to work already!) I gathered up some condiments--tomatillo salsa and lime wedges--then sat and waited in one of the red formica booths that lined the small eatery's dining room, and in just a few short minutes, I gave the lady behind the counter the 4 dollars and change I owed her and in exchange, got my "prize."
The smell of freshly grilled chorizo and eggs permeated my car as I quickly drove across the street (how LA of me!), rushing to get upstairs to my soon-to-be-abandoned desk to tear into this breakfast treat. I whizzed by the row of desks I usually pass in the morning..."Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning," I said in a most staccato fashion as I headed towards my office. I finally plopped down in my chair and unpacked the contents of the plastic take out bag. I opened the styrofoam box to find that some of the contents had shifted during flight, but no matter. With a piece of warm flour tortilla in one hand, I spooned some of the chorizo and egg mixture and a small amount of refried beans and rice onto the tortilla with the other. A good chorizo and eggs, to me, is both moist AND dry, oozing with the right amount of spicy and salty chorizo oil, the eggs cooked well done so as to avoid any runniness. This one was all of that, and made even better by creamy refried beans and nicely seasoned rice. Their tortilla chips were light and crispy and still warm, perfect with a few squirts of lime juice for dipping into their zesty tomatillo salsa or scooping up refried beans. The only complaint I had was the measly shreds of lettuce, the tomato slice and the small glob of sour cream they included in the box. To me, they just didn't go with the oily dryness of the other foods and ended up being more of a nuissance than a compliment. Other than that, a perfect "last meal" if I do say so myself. If only I had discovered this place long ago...they've got everything from tacos to tortas to mole plates.
So who knows what the future will bring? If I'm guessing correctly, my lunch hours will be alot shorter from now on (no more two hour lunches until I prove myself--then I can slack off again) and you'll all be seeing alot more home cookin' in these posts I'm sure. That is, unless Commerce turns out to be some hidden food goldmine which I sincerely, sincerely doubt.
Thanks for a great five years, Valley! It's been fun, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Tacos El Toro
5950 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606