“El Ruso” tacos in Boyle Heights (FOOD REVIEW)

From El Ruso’s Instagram: “The original flour tortillas from Sonora, Mexico. Artisan, made completely by hand 💯% Monday-Saturday 9:30 to 3:30pm; 1401 Mirasol St, LA 90023”

I love tacos. You should know this. Traditional tacos are the life-nectar for many of us Mexicans/Mexican-Americans. I also love Twitter when it’s not being an avalanche of negative energy. A few months ago I saw a tweet about a new taco spot in Boyle Heights called “El Ruso”. El Ruso’s tacos use FLOUR tortillas instead of corn, and the use of flour is a style made popular in Tijuana and surrounding areas like Rosarito Beach.

After clicking on the link within the tweet to this Eater LA article, I became eager to visit. It took me some time but I was finally able to treat my Mom and myself while coming back from a trip to Tijuana. Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: tortillas can make or break a taco. You have your traditional corn tortillas, which you can get in a bag or you can make yourself by hand or using a press. People tend to scoff at flour because they feel it gentrifies a taco, and that gentrification is made even worse when flour tortillas are fried into “hard-shell” tacos.

But flour tortillas aren’t the problem as long as they uphold the traditional presentation of the taco. This is where hard-shell tacos deviate from being considered “authentic”. People tend to stuff hard-shells with typically gentrified ingredients like ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, orphans and bat wings.

Tacos at El Ruso are traditional tacos in every sense of the word. As a default, each taco gets lined with beans and your choice of protein: Carne Asada (grilled, marinated steak), chicken or Chorizo (spiced pork sausage). You can then add the traditional toppings like salsa, chopped onion and cilantro, or you can eat it plain like I did.

Each taco is rather large, so I ordered two thinking that would be enough. Theoretically, they were, but I enjoyed them so much that I ordered a third without beans; just carne asada with no toppings. Every time I try a new taco place, I *always* try the carne asada first. It is the most popular and fundamental taco meat and honestly if you can’t get your carne asada right, then you should re-think your cooking strategy.

I’m elated to report that not only was the carne asada on par in terms of flavor, texture and how it was cooked, but the overall tacos themselves were perfect. All the flavors were wonderfully balanced, providing a wealthy experience. I ordered that third taco because I just wanted to eat another one, that’s how damn good it was.

I’m closing this review with one caveat: the hours. If you look at the top, the hours are Monday through Saturday 9:30am to 3:30pm, which can be difficult for the folks who work a traditional work schedule. Y’all just gonna have to get there on Saturdays! Get there early too, because once they run out of tortillas, they close.

Overall: My new favorite taco spot: giant tacos with giant flavor for my giant appetite for more giant, flavorful tacos. Don’t hate on the flour tortillas until you’ve tried El Ruso.

Jose Zuazua is editor-in-chief of Quick Lunch Break Reviews. He has an associates degree in film production and has been published both online and in print for Los Angeles City College’s award-winning Collegian newspaper. He’s on Twitter and Instagram, and is also currently writing his first short novel.


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