MID EAST TACOS
LOCATION: Smorgasburg LA (777 South Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021)
Next stop on the Smorgasburg food vendor list was a taco stand that had built up a pretty significant line in front for its fusion between Middle Eastern and Mexican flavors. Mid East Tacos was serving up both tacos and burritos revolving around three primary ingredients: chicken, steak, and falafel. The Smorgasburg vendor directory linked to the Instagram pages of each vendor, and the photos up on the Mid East Tacos account (@mideasttacos) were more than enough to mark this spot down.
Between tacos and burritos, we were trying to keep it relatively light, since we wanted to save room to still walk around and try food from other vendors. So tacos it was, with my friend Angie and I deciding to split one of the chicken kabob tacos. Even though the line for the food was pretty lengthy, the staff were still able to keep it relatively manageable by cranking out the food at a rapid pace.
At $4.50 a taco, I initially thought that the price of the taco was a bit on the high side. But once I got handed the taco, I could see that there was a pretty substantial amount of chicken that they put onto the tortilla. Charcoal grilled chicken, garlic sriracha aioli, chopped cilantro, diced onions, and housemade hummus spread onto a corn tortilla, finished off with some paprika. Just the potential of the flavor combinations alone made it sound like it’d be a winner.
The unfortunate part was that there was some sort of juice, not sure if it might have been from the chicken or one of the other ingredients, that pooled at the bottom of the taco. The corn tortilla, which looked to have been fried up a little bit on a flat-top grill, ended up getting soggy and fell apart because of that juice soaking into it.
But the flavors really did deliver. The grilled taste from the chicken paired well with the slight kick from the garlic sriracha aioli and paprika. The hummus also worked well with the corn tortilla to help provide some depths of earthy flavors, while the cilantro balanced out the savory elements with its distinct flavor punch. At the end of the day, however, I was hard-pressed to look past the soggy taco, which definitely detracted from my overall enjoyment.
There was a lot of promise for this spot, with the visually appealing food photos, intriguing flavor combinations, and nice aromatics coming from the food after getting it. But there are certain basic elements you look for when eating tacos, and too much juice where it causes the tortilla to be too soft and break apart is just a deal breaker for me. I’d be hard-pressed to pay that same amount for the taco experience that I got.
Let’s now take a look at the Mid East Tacos Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Mid East Tacos:
Food: 3 / 5
The flavor combinations looked and sounded compelling, but the soggy taco was too much to try and look past. This is especially the case at an outdoor market, where the food is your primary impression of a vendor.
With over 60+ food vendors at the outdoor market, that definitely attracts quite the crowd. Tons of people standing in lines, sitting down and eating, and different food smells coming from all directions. Just the sea of food choices alone made it hard to choose what to go for.
Service: 4 / 5
For how long the line was waiting in front of their tent, the staff did a good job to keep the food heading out the door to avoid getting too backed up. The person taking our order was all business: asking what we wanted, gave us the receipt, and moved on to the next patron.
Price: 3.5 / 5
I thought that for how much of the meat you got onto the taco, the price seemed to be worth it. On the flip side, however, for the quality of the taco that I got, that’s where I didn’t feel the same way.