Review: Shell Station on Huntington Drive (El Sereno)

LAshell_stationCommuting in Los Angeles is an art.  The fine art of traffic jam avoidance.  Even with in-vehicle navigation and the Internet, one still finds the best advice comes from word-of-mouth from those you know and, in this case, from people you work with every day.

One evening I followed a co-worker who wanted to show me her route from work to home so I could avoid the freeways.  I am always looking at my surroundings and always checking out every gas station I pass to see if they sell tacos. I couldn’t believe my luck that evening.  I learned a new route home with no traffic and of even more importance, I found a new taqueria at a local Shell gas station that had just opened.

The new taqueria, currently nameless, is open from 10am to 6pm.  There’s a fairly broad menu consisting mostly of combination plates and dishes with beans and rice.  Items can be ordered separately and that’s what I did when I finally stopped one afternoon for lunch.

When I was there around 11:30am on a Tuesday there were no other customers. The place had only been open a few weeks, but with several local taco trucks and stands in the area this place is going to have some difficulty building a loyal following. Before getting too ahead of myself, I still had yet to try anything. I ordered a couple carne asada and carnitas tacos.  The only other option that day was chicken.

LAShell_kitchenPreparation was a combination of griddle and microwave oven. The microwave was used to reheat the meat which seemed odd with a giant griddle that was only being used to heat four small corn tortillas. Hearing the microwave oven *ding* also didn’t build much confidence as I waited.

There is a small condiments area that has a few salsas. I also asked only for onions and cilantro.  Not sure if there is guacamole, but I’m sure it’s there if that’s your desire. I’m not a fan of guacamole on tacos, so I specifically ask only for onions and cilantro.

Starting on the carne asada tacos, the flavor was good and even though they were nuked in a microwave were surprisingly not dry. They were also fairly lean and the taco was better than most.  I tried each taco with a different salsa and definitely preferred the red salsa with its pungent kick.

Next the carnitas.

I couldn’t believe what I was tasting. A pretty amazing carnitas that had a good crispy crust and though a tad on the dry side, still full of flavor.  It was better than a couple of the local taco trucks I had tried over the past month now that I take this commute regularly.  They are easily one of the better carnitas tacos in the area.

LAShell_tacosThere is a lot of promise at this unnamed taqueria, but a few things are needed. First of all, a name would be nice so it can have more charm than just “The Shell station.”  Second, ditch the microwave. Microwaves bring no confidence to food, especially when all of the cooking is done right in front of the person waiting for their order.  These are minor tweaks to what is a pretty good gas station taco stand.

Let’s hope the word gets out more and they find a place in the crowded taco truck, taco stand market.

Gas Station: Shell

Address: 4590 Huntington Drive, El Sereno (Los Angeles), CA 90032

Rating (4 out of 5):


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Categories: Reviews

Author:Chris Baccus

Accomplished marketer, home cook and aspirational bass player.


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