The first time I was offered a “black taco” was in 2010 at Grant’s, a soul-food restaurant in South Los Angeles that has since closed. “You ever had a black taco?” asked owner Todd Grant. When it arrived, it was just that same taco we all had growing up in the United States. Remember taco night, when you’d get ground beef, shredded yellow cheese, sour cream, guacamole, canned hot sauce, diced tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce all laid out on a table to load into hard shells or warmed Mission tortillas? This is the Americanized taco, the one served at the Tupperware parties, with a recipe and spread lifted from the Betty Crocker cookbook, and you can find it at soul-food restaurants all over South L.A.
But nostalgia often tastes like the betrayal of your uncultivated youth, a memory of deliciousness that is revealed as disappointment wrapped in a tortilla shell many years later. Keith Garrett of Watt’s All Flavor No Grease has no time for nostalgia or bland food. He started his Americanized Mexican taco and quesadilla stand on a dare and hasn’t looked back. Garrett, who grew up in the neighborhood and has gone from admitted street hustler to born-again taquero, is dedicated to great food and positive messages—both of which can be seen on his popular Instagram feed.
Garrett does chicken and steak tacos, and sometimes shrimp tacos, but he takes the Americanized stuffed quesadilla to the next level, and with a love and pride no one has ever given this popular restaurant dish. Just don’t roll up when he’s seasoning his meat. You’ll get asked to turn around—it’s the kind of secrecy I’m accustomed to in Mexican restaurants where sometimes family members don’t get the recipe.
Once the meats are cooked, Garrett warms a large flour tortilla and works the comal (griddle) at the perfect setting to slowly layer grated cheese, proteins, and his homemade pico de gallo before folding the 1-inch-thick quesadilla. The quesadilla is then fan-cut, not like those unattractive pizza triangles, and dressed with sour cream, a cilantro salsa, and as much Louisiana hot sauce as you want. All Flavor No Grease also sometimes has lobster gumbo on the menu, so if you see that on Instagram, hurry over and get a bowl, a quesadilla, and a taco or two, and skip taco night—Garrett has you covered.