Taqueria Los Pericos taco, Perico tacos Santa Cruz tacos al pastor
Food & Drink

Los Pericos’ Top-of-the-Line Tacos

Where to find some of the best pastor in Santa Cruz

The signature taco at Taqueria Los Pericos is one of the best in town. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

I believe that it’s better to regret eating too many tacos than too few, which is something to keep in mind when ordering Perico tacos from Taqueria Los Pericos. These hefty beasts might qualify as a meal on their own, but only eating one will just make you want to eat another. Better safe than sorry.

The line at this beloved taqueria on the corner of River and Water streets is usually out the door at lunch time. Under different circumstances, this might allow a diner to survey their four LCD menus hanging above the register—full of other people’s favorite items, I’m sure—but no matter how many times I’m tempted by something else, I’m never able to ignore the siren’s song of their signature taco.

As with many great works of taco creation, the devil is in the details. They offer a generous portion of meat, so much so that maintaining the structural integrity of double-layered corn tortillas requires some dexterity and concentration. It’s always a multi-napkin experience.

I usually get one filled with pastor and one of something else, and the pastor taco is always the better of the two. It’s absolutely some of the best pastor in town, from the combination of spices absorbed by the slow-cooked pork to the textural delight of plenty of little crispy end pieces.

But before the meat goes down, the geniuses at Los Pericos do something that I do in my own home but almost never see at taquerias—they put cheese on the tortilla while it’s on the griddle. It might be just a few shreds of Monterey Jack, but it makes a huge difference in flavor and texture. Sometimes a few pieces of cheese will escape the confines of the tortilla on the griddle and make a crispy, cheesy edge on your taco. If you are lucky enough for this to happen to you, you are #winning, my friend.

The Pericos taco is finished with diced white onion, chopped cilantro and creamy slices of avocado—fresh flourishes that a protein-heavy taco like this needs. They almost trick you into thinking you’re eating a light lunch. You’re not, but if you’ve already come this far, you’re not turning back.

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Lily Stoicheff is a writer living in Santa Cruz, California, where she mostly spends her time exploring food culture and telling its stories. A fermentation and craft beer enthusiast and amateur mushroom hunter, her house is overflowing with jars of things that look gross but she swears are delicious. She is the 2017 NEXTie Honoree for Best Writer and a 2017 CNPA Finalist.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Deborah Lashever

    April 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you for reviewing Los Pericos. My favorite tacos in Santa Cruz! I eat there way too much. The food is so good! I almost always get two of the Carne Asada Tacos Pericos and eat them with one or two of their fresh roasted jalapenos. Great prices and cool employees too. Fast service. Check ’em out if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed.

  2. Wren

    April 6, 2018 at 9:41 am

    These tacos sound so delicious! Why have I never been here on my trips to SC? Sounds like a not to be missed experience. Next time!!

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