Carniceria Laura: Eat-in Match Review

#14b. Carniceria Taqueria y Fruteria Laura
1051 N. Ashland
Carnitas Tacos
3 @ $1.25 each = $3.75 (no extras)

The idea of having a lunch counter at the same place you have a meat counter is pretty darned logical. In Anglo culture, we have our version in the deli. They have a bunch of fresh meats and cheeses. You can either take some home, or you can have them prepare a sandwich right there in front of you! Either way, you're consuming the same high-quality product.

Why is it, then, that the performance of the carncerias-slash-taquerias in the Burrito Bracket has been underwhelming? Carniceria Leon's al Pastor was overpriced and not much better than passable. Carnicerias Guanajuato did have some things to recommend it, but also some things to disrecommend it. So Carniceria Laura, which I "discovered" on a whim a couple of months ago, was sort of carrying the banner for the genre. And to put it bluntly, if this is the alternative, the carnicerias and taquerias probably ought to break up and throw away one another's phone numbers.

The Food: We're going to keep this fairly brief, on the theory that if you can't say anything nice ... I knew from the start that it was going to be a little bit of a challenge to eat these puppies*. They had a somewhat off-putting smell ... the meat wasn't rancid or anything, but it certainly wasn't at its peak of freshness. The seasoning wasn't adequate. I can't believe I'm saying this after Carnciera Guanajuato's sodium bomb, but they really could have used some more salt; if nothing else this might have helped the meat to preserve a little better. Moreover, the pork was dry, overcooked, and tough, and its texture was inconsistent and unattractive (see close-up below). Even the tortillas were a little off, being somewhat too tough in places.

Basically, since I was pretty darned hungry, the strategy was to douse these tacos in salsa and make it through as far as I could, which was about one-and-a-half tacos worth.

The Experience: Carnciera Laura is considerably smaller and less well-trafficked than Carnicerias Guanajuato, and the small taqueria in the back of the establishment was not even staffed when I got there. It took about five minutes for somebody to show up and take my order. So immediately I had the impression that the taqueria was sort of an afterthought for them; its function seemed to be as a place for the leftovers from the butcher counter. The quality of the tacos today did nothing to disconfirm that notion.

Possible that it just had a bad day? This is always a possibility when you eat out. But with La Pasadita, De Pasada, and Taqueria Traspasada all within a two-block walk, there's no reason to roll the dice.

* "Puppies" is used idiomatically in this context. I think.

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