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Three blocks from my office, a taco truck from the South San Francisco restaurant, Los Compadres, parks at the corner of Spear. And on sunny days, when work is quiet, I wander down with a magazine and enjoy the view—between buildings—of the bay while eating lunch. I’d only ever ordered the cheese quesadilla with extra tomatillo sauce and extra hot salsa—a mouth-numbingly smoky, spicy combination of flavor.

But, in my quest to discover street food typical to this northern-Californian city, on Tuesday I perused the menu and thought I’d branch out…5 types of meats on the menu so let’s give them a try…five taquitos for $1.50 each: al pastor, pollo asada, carne asada, carnitas, lengua.

Lengua—tongue—am I brave enough for this? Apparently tongue has the tenderness of organ meat without the over-powering flavor but, taste buds, on my lunch? I’m brave when it comes to trying food but I need moral support, so I’ll skip the tongue taco for now.

Each little taco was served on double corn tortillas, with tomatillo sauce, salsa, chopped onion, cilantro and a lime. The pollo asada was tender and richly flavored but not charred. The carne asada had an okay flavor, but the meat was minced and I didn’t like the texture. I turned the plate to the next taquito, carnitas. My first bite was dry and lacking in flavor, and I feared for my lunch, but my second bite redeemed it. The carnitas was crisply moist and tender, perfectly roasted with pockets of caramelized meat—it was a perfect complement to the spicy salsa. And then, I turned the plate to try al pastor, or bbq pork, a meat preparation I’d never tried before. The flavor was sweet, rich, and complexly spicy—I fell in love.

Al pastor is a Mexican method of bbq-ing on an up-right spit, introduced to the country by Lebanese immigrants. The pork is marinated in red chili adobo and topped with a pineapple so the sweet fruit juices drip onto the meat and caramelize as it roasts. I didn’t see a spit in the Los Compadres taco truck and, on other web sites, I’ve read that it’s uncommon to find al pastor spits in the US, but the flavor of my taco was still addictive. It’s a recipe that I think could be adapted to an easy braise. Hmmm, I guess that’s my plan for the weekend…

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