The San Fernando Valley is a strange place. Trust me, I grew up there. For those of you who aren’t from there, you just see the valley as that really hot place up the 101 where there really isn’t much going on. I hate to admit it but aside from Burbank, Universal, and whatever seems to be happening in NoHo, there is some truth to that. There is also a direct correlation between the further west you travel in the valley and the quality of Mexican food. Let’s just say you’re probably going to have a hard time finding some decent tacos if you’re stranded all the way in Canoga Park. If you are though, worry not. I’m here to save the day or at the very least, give you some acceptable tacos to fight your cravings.
Tacos Reyes, located in the armpit of LA (aka The Valley), is a spot I’ve been going to for years because it’s as reliable as you can get that far away from the city. I actually came across it by visiting Instant Replay, the bar next door. These beautiful human beings kindly informed me they were totally okay with me buying tacos next door and bringing them over. Being a growing boy, I gladly took them up on this offer and stumbled upon one of the best-kept secrets in The Valley (though I’m pretty sure the rest of the secrets are probably porn related).
This spot holds a special place in my heart. It may not have the best-tasting tacos in the world. It may not have the best variety or the greatest sauces (though they’re pretty fucking good), but Tacos Reyes is like that faithful dog that’s always there for you. Though sometimes you see other dogs that are more obedient, look better, or do awesome tricks, they’ll never love you like your dog loves you. This place has been there for me through it all. For fuck’s sake, I don’t have to tell them how I like my order or ask for extra red sauce because they just know. I can’t bring myself to look at it objectively but I’ll give it a shot.
Meat Selection – 8/10
I LITERALLY typed a 9 and then remembered that they took out buche. WHY would you stop serving buche?
And their buche was next level shit. It’s chewy and delicious with just the right amount of crisp. Oh hell, why even bother going into it because it’s not as if any of you will ever get to try it. The only positive to come out of this unspeakable tragedy was them adding chicharrón and tinga de pollo to the mix. I’m almost tempted to go back and throw on that 9 but I’m still not over my buche being gone. That was as big a loss as Rob Stark.
You can’t have me invested then just leave me hanging. I’m Latino. We’re an emotional kind of people. We don’t deal well with loss.
Aside from that, their selection is more than solid. You have plenty of options and not just for tacos.
The real question is:
Are they any good?
Meat Taste – 7/10
This was a hard one because Tacos Reyes has hands down some of the best cabeza you’ll find. It’s soft but not too gooey and not too shredded to the point where you don’t know what the fuck you’re even chewing on. The chicharrón is out of this world if you’re the kind of person who likes the fatty parts of the meat. If you’re one of those “please, no fat on my steak” people then I suggest you stay away. In fact, maybe skip tacos altogether. Go find a fucking sushi blog or something. Your kind isn’t welcome here….
I kid. I kid. Tacos are an equal opportunity dish. But seriously, the fat is the best part, guys. You don’t pick out the marshmallows out of your Lucky Charms, do you?
The rest of the meats are pretty solid. Asada is standard and not in the least bit dry so I recommend it. The pastor could be better since it doesn’t really stand out but again, it’s solid. At this point you’re probably wondering “Luis, you asshole, it sounds to me like you like this place so why give it a 7?” Let me explain.
Everything was going so well, right? Yea, unfortunately, the tripas aren’t the greatest. They’re kind of too earthy and really bland. They’re on the softer side and though you can tell them to make them crispy, you shouldn’t have to. It’s a pass in my book and I love me some tripas, just not here.
Topping Selection – 7/10
They have on of those little carts with a couple different salsas, some chilies, onions, and your standard toppings. Nothing out of this world but also nothing to criticize. The secret is asking for their red sauce which they keep in the back. That stuff is FIRE in every sense of the word. They have a green sauce too and you also have to ask for it.
Topping Taste – 8.5/10
Yes, that red sauce is so fucking delicious. It’s just the right amount of spicy (which I’ve come to realize is too hot for some people) but you have to at least try a little.
Pro tip: Get it early so you can eat your chips with it.
Second Pro Tip: Combine it with their avocado sauce for one of the best mixtures of all time. I’m being dead serious. This is some Captain Planet “by your powers combined, I am…” kind of shit.
The green sauce is like the Lamar Odom circa 2009 of sauces here. So good that it can be a starter but there’s too much talent on the court so you keep it on your bench. The few times they are out of the red, green steps in and hits clutch shots.
Overall – 7/10
This was a hard one to grade because they do so many things right and there is little to hold against them. The problem isn’t so much that they aren’t doing something right but that they aren’t doing something to get to the next level. The closest they come to having an IT factor is the red sauce but it just isn’t enough to be elite overall. I will say this:
Don’t let my harsh standards deter you. This place is more than capable of leaving you satisfied, especially in Canoga Fucking Park. I mean, what are your other options? The fucking Applebees?
Tacos Reyes: 1929 Saticoy St.
Canoga Park, CA 91304