Cheap Thrills | Taco Love

An epic ode to the California Burrito in Hollywood

When David Modelo, Marko Velazquez and Paul Kot met while working for Umami Restaurant Group, they agreed on two things: First, San Diego-style Mexican food was the best thing ever (Modelo and Velazquez both grew up near Chula Vista); second, there was far too little of it in L.A.

With that in mind the trio opened Taco Love, a splashy taqueria in Hollywood modeled after the beachside stands down south. Paramount on the menu is the Cali Burrito ($7).

Taco Love's wall of art

In San Diego surf culture, the California Burrito is sacrosanct, a carb-loaded vehicle suited to fight hunger after a day at the beach. At Taco Love, the regional specialty is done great justice: It's a hefty bundle of charred carne asada, French fries, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Guacamole can–and should–be added for a dollar extra.

Paper-wrapped tacos ($2), spooned with more guacamole, are fine too, especially those made with adobado, marinated pork shaved from a rotating spit.

At communal tables, twin squirt bottles of salsa–one red, one green–are passed freely as heavy G-funk tracks blast overhead. In burrito stand tradition, Taco Love is open until 2:30 a.m. on weekends–and it can get packed.

"This is the place you where want to end your night," says Modelo with a grin, "though you could also just stay here and drink Micheladas."