Puebla Tacos, Pasadena

Puebla Tacos, Pasadena

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  1. When I go out for Mexican food, I always wear a bandoleer (and fill the bullet slots with rolled up tortillas), a big, bright green, white and red poncho and a sombrero the size of a monster truck tire. I should clarify things by mentioning that I am as white bread as they come, I freckle under harsh scrutiny, can use LED lights for sunbathing and every dictionary in the world has my picture under the listing for the word “gringo.” So one might think that I would get a cool reception dressed like that in a Mexican restaurant. But those who would think so haven’t been around too many Mexicans, who happen to be some of the nicest, most easy-going, industrious and humorous people on the planet. When I go out in my getup, usually three or more people want to buy me tequila shooters and toast my insanity.

    And when it comes to Mexican food, I am legitimately crazy—crazy about the food, that is. 

    I live in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, so one would think I could find great Mexican food within a short walk of my front door. However, while the local eateries do serve authentic Mexican food, it isn’t necessarily the best, or the freshest—and certainly not consistent. Some of the local places are excellent… some of the time, like if you just happen to arrive right after they’ve cooked up whatever it is you want to eat. Otherwise it can sit around for hours, losing flavor and getting dry and tough.



    For consistently great Mexican food that is always the same—excellent!—I drive 13 miles (which takes 20-30 minutes each way, depending on traffic) to Puebla Tacos at the corner of Lake Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena.


      Although I’ve tried many menu items and found them all good (but not worthy of an hour round-trip), the carnitas at Puebla Tacos is worth walking barefoot through a pit filled with rabid rattlesnakes, irritated scorpions and ravenous, slobbering zombies to get to. I make the second best carnitas I’ve had—far better than any other Mexican restaurant I’ve visited (if I say so myself), but that’s only because I have tried—and failed, partially—to imitate the recipe at Puebla Tacos. In the many hours I have spent in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, I carefully observed the chef working his art. I had to guess at the seasonings, and I came very close to the real thing, but my carnitas just can’t equal that sold at Puebla Tacos.

     If you love great pureed red salsa, you’ll love the stuff at Puebla Tacos. Again, I have tried to copy their recipe and—although my salsa is terrific—I just can’t emulate the spicy ambrosia available at Puebla Tacos. Be sure to load up at the condiments tray, which contains (all very fresh) cilantro, lime wedges, diced jalapenos, chopped onions, radishes, three types of salsa and several other goodies that will accentuate your meal.

    This place is open every day until 3 am, and if I lived closer I would certainly make regular post-midnight runs to the restaurant. There are a lot of good reasons to visit Pasadena, but if you love great carnitas, this is the best reason to go there.


    Puebla Tacos

    700 N. Lake Ave
    Pasadena, CA 91104
    (626) 797-6884

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