Walter Mencken 9 a.m., May 23
“We’re the first in San Diego to have an Al Pastor spit,” says Adrian Villanueva. It’s late, around ten. He’s busy carving flakes of pork off the vertical spit into a, like, cutaway frying pan, ready to drop into tortillas for an order of al pastor tacos ($1.89 small, $2.99 big).
That gets my attention, because Al Pastor means “shepherd style,” and is probably an idea that came to central Mexico from the Middle East. Meaning mainly Lebanese immigrants who brought their shawarma (which is just like the Turkish döner kebab, which is pretty much the Greek gyros, a spit turning in front of wood or gas flames), as they came and settled in places like Chihuahua and Baja. In Puebla, they call the same thing on pita bread “taco Árabe.”
Adrian runs the eats side of Liticker’s Mexican and Vegetarian Cuisine (part of Liticker’s liquor store-deli at 4955 Voltaire). He says he sells a whole lot of al pastor.
“But this is OB. Many customers come for our vegetarian food. You should try our shiitake mushroom burrito ($6.49).”
Or, you can go cheaper. Guy named Bo turns up. “Yeah, I’m vegetarian,” he says. “Uh, bowl of black beans, please.” He hands over $1.99.