Hey, da’ Brotha’ eats here, so you know it’s legit. Anyone who is a fan of uber-chef Anthony Bourdain knows his infatuation with pork, “the meat of kings” and that’s never more true than when he is visiting Latin America. In Mexico, there is a street specialty, the pride of Mexico City, called Tacos Pastor (in the video, pastor makes it’s appearance at 2 minutes. “Shockingly good, a real fresh taste, not mushy”). Pastor started as a take off on Mediterranean shawarma or gyros, where meat is marinated or rubbed and then wrapped and stacked on a vertical split where it’s blasted with heat. In a cheeky-way, the Mexican street vendors thought “let’s take the performance art of this street food from 5000 miles away and kick that up a notch as the ultimate in tacos?” So rather than just eat beef or lamb like their colleagues in Greece, they went for pig. And not just any pig, but a pig that is marinated for a day in a combination of 2-4 chiles (usually with pasillas and chipotles), pineapple juice, cumin, and the key ingredient: achiote, or annatto seed, which when combined with the other ingredients results in a thermonuclear orange flesh perfect for high-heat searing. Then to make it really a topper of a spectacle, they put a pineapple on top and shave everything off with a small cutlass.
Here’s the real deal in Sayulita, Nayarit.
For my money, and my childrens’ money, pastor is taco nirvana. They’re salty-sweet-spicy. The meat is shaved thin and has just a little bit of bacon-like char on the sides. They take to a variety of salsas and other spices, but they stand up on their own, unadulterated. In Mexico, they’re cheap. At Tacos El Ivan, eight pesos per taco, cheap (about $0.44 per taco).
It’s hard to find the dramatic spit of Gatorade-orange piggy sizzling in front of a shop in Colorado Springs, but the end result can indeed be found at a few taco trucks around town. One of the better concoctions is at El Chapin, in the parking lot of Ranch Foods at Fillmore and Hancock.
While they can’t boast $0.44 tacos, they do make a premium $2/taco. They use the products from inside Ranch Foods, so this is the primo stuff that fills the cold cases inside. They also have the legit delicacies of tongue and tripe on the menu if you want a really adventurous Mexico City lunch. But if you’re a first-timer and want the taste of the tropics in an unadulterated form, this is pretty hard to beat.
Just ask Isaiah.