When describing a taco, do you start from the outside, with the tortilla or lettuce or wrap that holds it, or do you begin with the meaty or tofu filling?
Or do you throw a total curveball and choose instead to rhapsodize over the sauce or salsa or lime or crema that's used, the spicy stuff that lifts the iconic edible to new heights?
To say that people simply like tacos, and leave it at that, is to not fully grasp that taco-ists have an admirable way of describing what they delight in the most. Look to LA Taco, one of the leaders in taco-good finds around Southern California, and the outfit's excellent taco-forward journalism.
But, every so often, LA Taco puts the choice out to its readership: What Los Angeles taco, be it shrimp or brisket or fried chicken or vegetarian, is the best, and who makes it?
That's what's going down now, as a bracket of some regional stalwarts is live on the site and people's picks are being recorded. Will Tacos Leo or Yuca's reign in their match-up? Shall Carnitas El Momo or Tacos Cuernavaca move onto the next level? And where do fans stand on Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla and "Tire Shop Taqueria"?
A "special new geographical format" is helping voters in the overwhelming task of choosing where to go and what to choose. The dividing lines of the quadrants? The 10 and 110 Freeways.
The first round of voting has now closed, and several beloved shops moved further along in the cuisine-focused competition.
But ultimately we're all winners, to put it cheerfully. That we live in a city where a devoted group of taco experts would compile such a bracket, one brimming with some of the very best taco pros around, is a very good sign. Plenty of brackets come along during the third month of the year, brackets that don't have much to do with March Madness, and pretty much everyone can agree that the non-basketball brackets that deal with dining are truly the most delectable.
Even if you didn't weigh in with your vote, or simply can't choose, consider this bracket as a stellar summary of some of SoCal's finest taco destinations. If you want some carne asada, wrapped in a very corn-flavorful tortilla, with just a touch of cabbage or some salsa, but don't know where to start your quest for your next favorite shop, start here.
But how will you describe your taco? Some people start with the tortilla, some with the meat, some with the extras. All of those paths work, because the ultimate result is a fan singing a great taco's praises.