500 Tacos: Taqueria La Mision

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Taqueria La Mision
808 Justin Lane in the Nugent Grocery parking lot (map)
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.09.15
Taquerias are like garage bands. Anybody with a tortilla and the will to fill it can start one. But just like those earnest rockers with three chords and their version of the truth, taquerias like La Mision will never rise above doing cover versions of things other people do so much better.
The taco: Cecina
Cecina will never break the Top 10 of Beef’s Greatest Hits. Sliced thin, salted and dried, it’s somewhere between jerky and Steak-umms. Here at this signage-free orange trailer in the parking lot of the old-style Nugent Grocery, they don’t even take it that far. The confetti-chopped beef nibs are dry and salty, for sure, but indistinguishable in size and shape from the greasier — and better — bits of beef in the trailer’s bistek taco. The obligation of respecting a style doesn’t end with writing it on the menu. Cecina’s no star, but it deserves a fair hearing, and this isn’t it. ($2)
 Carnitas and pastor: La Mision does a much better job with carnitas, roasting and pulling the pork in irregular shreds and chunks, then cooking it crispy at the edges for a good interplay of fat, salt and crunch. The trailer’s al pastor is a lazy orange adobo on pork sliced like fajitas, leaving it dense and chewy. ($2 each)
 Tortillas: The trailer’s one original song: Corn tortillas made by hand with a light toasting on the flat-top. But they’re thin, and they don’t double them up, so it’s like chasing after an oil spill with a wet-nap.
 Salsa: La Mision makes a fine, mild tomatillo salsa verde, a flinty dried chile red and a watery habanero that’s all heat and no payoff.
 Programming notes: Two-item breakfast tacos are $1.50, served until 11am only. The other tacos are $2. The trailer also sells gorditas, tortas and quesadillas.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)