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Vitamina T: Barbacoa at El Gallo Bakery

Even more delicious than Taco Tuesday, our weekly segment showcases the best doses of Vitamina T, or vitamin T, to celebrate the beloved comfort foods of Mexico that begin with the letter T. (Tacos, tortas, and tostadas, oh my!) This would have been great on Sesame Street, but we beat them to the punch—here’s this week’s taste of vitamin T from the streets of L.A.

The El Gallo Grill returned this past year after many years trying to rebuild from a 2006 fire that shuttered the popular restaurant. We weren’t so impressed with the steakhouse as we’ve yet to receive a true northern Mexican steakhouse of note, but El Gallo Bakery just across the street just gave us a full-on-Mexican-grandmother slap upside the head with its new weekend specials: Guerrero-style chicken and beef barbacoa to-go with tortillas and porky, refried beans that rock our taco world.

We haven’t seen barbacoa de pollo here in L.A., and it’s about time. Whole chickens are roasted in an oven and then incorporated into a crimson red stock made from drippings, herbs, spices, and dried red chiles by a cook from Guerrero that works in the bakery.

The other offering is an equally deep flavored barbacoa de res, another rare dish here in town that consists of roasted beef cooked in the same chile-perfumed stew. All you need is a warm tortilla to hold it all, and you’ll be tacoing like a pro. (Yes, we said tacoing.)

These amazing do-it-yourself taco wonders are only available on Saturdays and Sundays, just in time for football season.

El Gallo Bakery, 4546 E Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

Photograph by Bill Esparza