There is, perhaps, no Los Angeles lonchero more famous than Raul Ortega, who regularly takes home top prizes at the L.A. Street Food Festival, and whose customers drive many miles to taste his version of the spicy shrimp cocktail called aguachile, his ceviche, and especially the tacos dorados de camarones – crunchy shrimp tacos – that are apparently the specialty of his hometown San Juan de los Lagos. He has been parking his truck, Mariscos Jalisco, at the same spot on East Olympic Boulevard for 11 years, lunch only. He is a rock star among taco chefs. Even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, reportedly, is a fan.
Yet when I tagged along with Tess Vigeland to the Eastside last week for an upcoming segment on her NPR show "Marketplace," after the requisite stops at dumpling parlors and drive-through banh mi windows, I insisted that she visit the truck, which neither she nor her crew had heard of, much less visited. In some circles, admitting that you live in Los Angeles but haven't visited Mariscos Jalisco is like confessing that you've never been to Dodger Stadium, or driven through the four-level freeway interchange, or eaten a corn dog on Muscle Beach – inexcusable, really.