The Magic is in the Meat


Torta review by Victoria Kraus

If you haven’t already discovered East L.A.’s best kept torta secret, you can stop shelling out your precious American dollars for crap and start getting more for your money, at least Monday through Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.  Taco Real is nestled in the business complex on Mednik and 3rd in East L.A., across the street from the East Los Angeles Civic Center.  A few doors down from the franchises Coffee Bean and Quizno’s, this small-sized kitchen and four-stool counter seating is a secret waiting to explode on the LA Weekly and Times foodie scene.  I’ve been a loyal biweekly, sometimes weekly, customer for over a year now.  I stumbled upon Taco Real in January 2008 unwillingly on my way to work.  I thought it was another one of those Mexican food places that are too many in East LA.  I was debating whether to eat a familiar Quizno’s sub that would be pseudo-satisfactory or try something different.  I took a leap of faith and went into Taco Real, indulging myself with the best freakin’ torta on the planet.  I took a bite of my first Taco Real order – a carne asada torta – in front of Victor, the restaurant’s owner and fellow Roosevelt H.S. alum.  I could not believe a simple six dollar Mexican sandwich would satisfy me beyond description.  It was better than any overpriced $10+ gourmet sandwich or panini at a chic Los Feliz/Silverlake café.  I told Victor that I’ve had many a torta but this torta was magic.  “It’s the meat, man,” I told him.  “I can taste the quality.”  He said I nailed it on the head.


Taco Real uses only quality ingredients that include prime skirt steak meat, one of the healthier parts of the cow.  The Taco Real torta is prepared on a fresh telera roll with guacamole, onions, tomatoes, light mayonnaise, a light bean spread and a hefty portion of their seasoned skirt steak carne asada meat.  Fish, chicken, chorizo and nopales are other protein options.  Every item on their slender menu is accompanied by a definition and informative description that will tempt you to order all eight traditional Mexican savory dishes including the alambre and mulita.  Their soft tacos, well-worth your buck, are made from fresh handmade corn tortillas with a generous portion of meat that should make King Taco think twice about how stingy they are with their tiny tacos.  Taco Real also prides themselves in using extra virgin olive oil informing customers of its health benefits.  The Taco Real torta: guaranteed delectable or it’s on me.

Taco Real  323.261.2800
207 Mednik Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90022

20 thoughts on “The Magic is in the Meat

  1. I live near there and have never managed to pop in.Guess what I’m having for dinner tonight? Thanks for the heads up!

  2. That doesn’t look like telera. Telera is flat and has to be cut in halves. This torta looks flat. The torta looks fine, I’ll check it out some time.

  3. Ohhh yeah. I remember when you took me there and the girl, who happens to be the new owner, was so nice and friendly. I also remember that she kept looking my way and smiled when we made eye contact hehehe. I haven’t gone back since, but I might go just to flirt with her.

  4. On their menu they say they use a telera. Telera or not, the bread is good. I pay $5.50 plus tax every time and I don’t mind, though my visits to any restaurant are less frequent nowadays. People pay $4+ for blended sugar milk, ice and a splash of coffee (frappucinos). Does a venti mocha fulfill all nutrition groups the body requires in meal? No.

  5. Victoria, thanks for the post! Please review more Eastside eateries. I’m vegetarian so I was happy to see they have nopales as an option, yum!

  6. Tortas at Taco Real are even better than King Torta. Guaranteed. King Torta holds the reign on the guacamole fries, though.

  7. What I really like from T.R. are the alambres. They remind me of Pepe Coyote’s in Coyocan, D.F.

  8. Vicoria, I have never tried “Real”, but I will!! I really do enjoy “Tacos Don Chente’s” Torta de lengua, they know how to properly cook it so it doesn’t come out like rubber!! They are very generous with the avocado also, a little pricey but soooo delicious!!

  9. These are my picks for favorite Tortas:
    COOK’S TORTAS (Monterey Park)
    SUPER TORTA (various locations)
    EL GALLO GIRO Torta Cubana (various locations)

  10. Okay, so I went last monday and they were closed. I went back a days ago and ordered the carne asada Torta and WOW. The Telera, the MEAT, all of it…Victoria was right on, this is probably the best Torta I have ever sunk my teeth into. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head, haha. I went back this afternoon but they were closed;(

  11. I had the asada torta…one the of the best torta’s I ever had…the meat very flavorful with very little fat

  12. Yay! for everyone who’s tried and enjoyed the tortas.
    For a torta that looks like someone stepped on it, it holds up well. Who coined the phrases, “it’s what inside that counts” and “don’t judge a book by its cover”?

  13. tortas Ahogadas is a completely different style of torta. its like saying a beef dip sandwich is the same as a normal subway sub. but the normal tortas here are awesome.

  14. I went in with an open mind,(I’ve been around ELA for about 50 years now!!) I went there in early June 2009, and ordered a taco of carne asada with guacamole.
    I was not very impressed with the meat, it was so-so, not bad though, the tortilla was EXCELLENT and the guacamole must have been measured with a tiny, tiny spoon!! WOW!!!!

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