Essential T: Tacos Cuernavaca’s Taco de Alambre Burns the Midnight Oil in East L.A.

A late-night treat courtesy of one of our favorite traditional food trucks

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.

Food from Chilangolandia—better known as Mexico City—and around the Estado de Mexico has become more popular in L.A. year by year, with a steady flow of transplants from Mexico’s capital arriving here since the 90s. There, the day is ruled by tacos de canasta—tacos steamed in a basket—and tacos de guisado, made mostly with braises and stews, though only during the week, from mornings to late afternoons. The night cries out for comfort foods, and so do the weekends. Want carne asada? You’re out of luck, for the only grilled meats you’re likely to find will be in Argentine restaurants in the Distrito Federal. But what you will find are alambrestacos de guisado piled high with a Mexican hash of meats, bell peppers, bacon, onions, and cheese, all griddled together on a flat-top comal.

Here in L.A., the recently closed Antojitos Carmen had an outstanding alambre. While it was never a full-blown casa de alambres like you’d find in Mexico City, now that they’re gone, there’s been a noticeable void. The closest thing we have is the Tacos Cuernavaca truck, where you can find three different alambres: choriqueso, the classic Mexican blend of chorizo and cheese; the mixto with blended meats; and the alambre illegal. The illegal is my favorite, a divine gathering of meat, cheese, potatoes, and vegetables cooked with enough oil to maintain its moisture, then handed to you on a plate with a pile of corn tortillas. (Yes, you get to make the tacos.) Top them with Cuernavaca’s high quality salsas, like their dried chile morita with peanuts, and a house-pickled mix of jalapeños and carrots that stings your lips, but then lessens the blow with a sweet piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) kiss.

Tacos Cuernavaca is one of L.A.’s best traditional food trucks, and I love it even more because it starts late and goes late, at times past 2 a.m. Their almighty alambre is a solid save for a head full of cocktails in the wee hours.

Tacos Cuernavaca, Whittier Blvd. & Eastmont Ave., East Los Angeles, 323-377-4603