Stealth Dining: Tacos So good, They’re Illegal


A spray of balloons dangles from the gate of an old two-story South L.A. home guarded by a pair of ceramic lions. Strung across them is a banner announcing the outlaw restaurant: HAY RICA BARBACOA! Behind the house, people are seated on picnic benches covered with recycled food containers that hold salsas and vegetables. Off to the side a young man sells pirated DVDs, and a group of construction workers arrives with a bag of ice; another, with a 12-pack of Bud. They’ve come for pit-roasted lamb cooked in maguey leaves, chile-rubbed lamb offal steamed in a lamb’s skull, and hot bowls of lamb consommé to accompany do-it-yourself $1 lamb tacos sold by the family from Capulhuac, Estado de México, who runs the backyard barbacoa operation. Strangers sell one another beers, devouring bites of lamb while hidden from all authority. “Come back later to catch the pay-per-view fight on the tube,” says the barbacoa master. “Five bucks.”