The sight of a trompo spinning on a Tijuana street corner is usually accompanied by a crowd, and the same appears to be true in Barrio Logan. At least, so suggests the early popularity of Tacos El Trompo, a new taco shop at the corner of Logan Avenue and Cesar E. Chavez Parkway.
1879 Logan Ave suite C, Barrio Logan
“El trompo” is the name given the vertical rotisserie oven cooking the pork dish al pastor, the so-called “shepherd style” that resulted by the intermingling of Lebanese immigrants with Mexican cuisine in the early 20th century. Marrying cultures does have a way of producing such delights.
Thin cuts of marinated pork are stacked high on the spit, typically topped with a pineapple, then slowly cook as they turn endlessly before radiant heat, thin chunks hacked off from the outside in. Places like Tijuana’s open-air Taqueria Franc will position a trompo front and center, partly to attract customers, but also to facilitate access. Because the crush of customers clamoring for its al pastor tacos at dinnertime can quickly turn as hectic as Black Friday at Walmart.
El Trompo’s trompo doesn’t sit out on the street; it turns within the kitchen of a small shop in a small strip mall. Barrio Logan’s newest Mexican restaurant sits only a couple doors down from its oldest, Las Cuatros Milpas. If nothing else, the proximity drives home the idea that this neighborhood was already pretty well set for tacos when El Trompo opened here two months ago. Nevertheless, whenever I’ve made it by, a steady stream of customers have come through ordering breakfast, burritos, tortas, and even soups.
But as the Trompo name suggests, start with an al pastor taco. These $2.50 street tacos may not inspire the sort of midnight madness witnessed at Taqueria Franc. However, they will save you a border crossing, and if the past week of my life is any indication, they quickly become addictive. They’re nothing more than a pair of made in-house corn tortillas, plus diced onions and a thin dressing of guacamole over the rotisserie pork. But add salsa to taste, and you get three or four bites of savory bliss.
If you don't dig on swine, add a beef birria taco, or chicken or carne asada. but be warned, al pastor tacos have a way of making other tacos seem inferior. Tacos like this are the reason we keep eating street food.