Is It Any Good?

Really good Tacos in Pasadena.

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Believe it or not, I’m still looking for my taco place. “My” taco place, the one that defeats all others. The one that you got to when you say “Man, I need some Tacos”. Because who doesn’t say “Man, I need some Tacos” from time to time.

I’ve been to Yuca’s, and to Tacos Villa Corona. I’ve been to Petty Cash Taqueria, and Cacao Mexicatessen still has my heart.

But I guess I see Cacao as more than just a Taco joint. Maybe that’s my fault. After all, all the Taco joints I’ve been to serve more than Tacos.

Maybe I just need another Taco joint to add to my list.

Yeah, that’s it.

So I finally come to La Estrella.

When one writes about Pasadena, one could be forgiven for writing about “Two Pasadenas”.

Could be, but shouldn’t.

There are all kinds of Pasadenans, Rich and Poor, Mexican, Black, Armenian, increasingly Chinese and Asian. There are many facets to the town, though most sightseers tend to stick to Colorado and Old Town.

La Estrella (at least this one) is not in Old Town.)

Blocks behind, the Norton Simon Museum, across the 210 Freeway is another Pasadena. Not poor, not rich, just it’s own little bedroom community. Still fun, still vital. One of the schools is part of the Artnight Pasadena that happens twice a year. But also along this part of Fair Oaks Ave. is a big orange brick of restaurant, La Estrella.

It’s very much a Taco Stand in the tradition of the taco stands you see around town. It’s a fairly big, tiled patio. Plenty of seating, on most days, but…when is there a normal day when it comes to getting your taco on? Unlike most Taco Stands, it does take Credit Cards, and it even has parking in back.

Step up to the window, place your order, and wait for your number to be called. That’s the trick to La Estrella.

In recent days, I have found myself in a place where I need to watch every dollar possible. Mexican Taco Stands provide outstanding value in that department, in that you can really control how much you eat, and thus how much you spend. Going to La Estrella, getting four or five tacos and a Coke, you can walk out of there for around ten bucks. Magnificence.

Two Taco (Al Pastor) combo from La Estrella.

Two Taco (Al Pastor) combo from La Estrella.

WHAT SHOULD I GET?: You know me. I see Pork or Carnitas on the menu, and that’s pretty much it for me. So three Carnitas Tacos on the place, dressed well with a spicy Roja sauce, and chunks of onion. These were some seriously good Tacos, and ones I will be having again at my nearest opportunity.

I also got the Carne Tacos, which I were were some of the best in town, and they were. Though, I have to be honest, as much as I liked these Tacos, telling the Carne apart from the Carnitas a bit difficult.

Also, I’ve got to say, one of the the the pleasures of coming here, as opposed to Yuca’s or Tacos Villa Corona, is the fact that they take cards and you can park. The way I figure it is, you can’t enjoy good food in L.A. if you can’t get to it.

I’ve also gotten an Al Pastor Taco Plate combo, which…was ridiculously cheap.  I think I spent more on my Agua Fresca than I did on the meal.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I don’t know why. La Estrella’s is a straight ahead place, yet I still found myself turned around for some reason. Like I said the layout is basic. The “order-up” window is to the far far left of where you enter. You pick up your food from the window to the right. Grab a table only after you order, although I think some customers were breaking that particular rule.

Also, and I only mention this because of one particular reader who demands to know these things (he knows who he is), this place does have bathrooms, but you need a key to get in.


PARKING: It should be easy, but…

La Estrella has a pretty substantial Parking Lot in back, it’s just…well…seems to be filled all the damn time. I got a space, after circling the block once, but just expect this to be a popular place, with very few spaces left.

Also, it’s a tight squeeze. Be very careful backing out.


La Estrella (Orange Grove)
330 E. Orange Grove Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104

Tel: (626) 792-8559

Daily: 8:00 am – 12:00 am