There’s a new street taco stand fast conquering Los Angeles, and it’s not with the power of social media; It harnesses the power of an impressive brick-colored Sonoran-style trompo de adobada.
In just over a year and a half, the married couple Mariana Yepes and Arturo Vasquez met Rico’s Tacos Naomi from a taco stand at Nordoff and Woodman in Arleta to 14 stands across the city. Mariana opened the Valley location in 2018, but on January 28, 2021, they began their expansion with their second location in their hometown of Lennox, California. These aren’t simple stands either. From trompo on one side to meat jacuzzi on the other, they offer an abundance of meats from suadero and beech to flame grilled asada. Additionally, six of their locations offer handmade tortillas.
In the underground of Naomi’s taco assembly line, there is a story of LA taquerías who influenced tacos Naomi. Mariana from Obregon, Sonora and Arturo from Guatemala met and fell in love while working side by side kogis first taco truck. Arturo eventually ended up at Roy Choi’s A-Frame restaurant in Culver City, while Mariana made the switch to King Taco. Tacos Naomi red salsa is inspired by King Tacos.
Most of the recipes for the meat and other salsas were passed down from Mariana’s mother. But to do the adobada for the trompo, Mariana got help from “Al Pastor Taqueria Vista Hermosa“ in the Mercado Paloma, where she also worked a bit. Although the trompo from the Mercado is called Paloma al Pastor and the original chef is from Michoacán, when asked, Mariana explained that her trompo was a Sonoran-style adobada with her own flavors. “Most trompos out there are very basic, just some chilli, salt and pepper. Our marinade is better,” says Arturo to LA TACO.
And in truth, the marinade on the skewer looks even different. You can almost taste the flavor of the adobada with your eyes alone as the trompo handler spins the skewer with his blade and in his left hand slices tender strips of chard pork onto a tortilla as he prepares taco after taco. It’s like watching a potter mold a terracotta pot out of flame-cooked pork. It has no spicy notes, it isn’t over salted and it doesn’t taste like a richly painted bland pork. It’s earthy, flavorful, and so balanced that it just tastes like a firm but gentle hug after a long day.
Fourteen years after meeting in Kogi’s Taco Truck, they now have fourteen Trompos across town in taco stands named after their fourteen-year-old daughter, Dankary Naomi Yepes. From the Valley to the West Side to Thousand Palms by Coachella, this street taco power duo has an unprecedented growth rate attributed to their great salsas and a powerfully flavored trompo. No investments in social media or influencers; just bomb tacos that people keep coming back for.
However, such a rapid expansion comes with some problems. This week, the city and about six police officers dumped all of their food at their original location in the valley. In Lennox, the caravan of taco trucks parked on Hawthorne Boulevard forced Tacos Naomi to move to the Lennox side street. With a growing operation in a town getting full of average taqueros, the taco turf war just keeps on growing, and this operation is the newest contender. It’s tough out there but may the best trompo win and it looks like Naomi is about to win.
You can find most of Tacos Naomi’s locations on their website Instagram or link tree, although not all are listed. They operate Tuesday through Sunday evenings, and you can see them in a black or burgundy polo shirt with their yellow logo on the back.
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