Essential T: Say No to the Taco Cleanse; Say Yes to Tacos

Here are three places to get healthy taco options—if you’re into that sort of thing

What has left me utterly confused over the last couple of years are the attempts to do a watered down version of vegan Mexican cuisine when there are so many vegan, vegetarian, and healthy Mexican options that already exist.

Gracias Madre is a beautiful and popular space, but the food would be better if they did more tried-and-true, vegetable-based Mexican recipes instead of making Mexican-American cuisine with vegan ingredients. This might be a crazy idea—but maybe you don’t need cashew nacho cheese slathered on every dish.

The Taco Cleanse is the latest misunderstanding of Mexican cuisine and its marquee dish with bizarre international vegan recipes like jackfruit brisket, bulgur chorizo, and aberrations such as green chili pozole tacos. Why not just make pozole instead of upsetting the Aztec gods?

Even sillier, these self-proclaimed taco scientists suggest replacing a meal with a taco. Uh—hello; it’s called Mexican food. Mexican cuisine, which is protected by UNESCO as a representation of Intangible Cultural Heritage, has endless recipes that are light on calories. Rather than going on a taco cleanse, just eat great tacos in a healthy way.

In southern Mexico, tacos with quelites (a group of foraged greens) and other vegetables are available every day from street vendors and here in Los Angeles, half the city is already living the taco life. A 30-day taco cleanse is basically just a normal month. We do this on the regular in L.A., and here are three places where you can get delicious tacos suitable for any resolutions.

Tacos Quetzalcoatl
The Omega-2 taco made famous by this East L.A. taco vendor is out of this world; a sauté of wild greens, mushrooms, and corn on a handmade corn tortilla topped with fresh salsa and a cactus salad that’ll make you forget you’re even having vegetarian cuisine.
E Olympic Blvd & S Kern Ave, East Los Angeles

Guerrilla Tacos
Chef Wes Avila always has his signature sweet potato taco on the menu and often has other seasonal vegetarian options like portobello mushrooms, celery root, or heirloom bean tacos. The seafood options are also light in calories, but any taco here, if you just have one, is a healthy option., Twitter/@guerrillatacos for schedule

Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen
You can get Oaxacan-style tacos de cazuela—the regional name for tacos de guisado, or stewed tacos—made by chef Rocio Camacho served on high quality corn tortillas.
7891 Garfield Ave., Bell Gardens, (562) 659-7800

The whole point is that—and this is something a true taco aficionado understands—in Mexican cuisine, there are plenty of recipes that have survived for generations because it’s damn good. No need for taco scientists here; trust your taquero.