Watch Me Getting Down on East L.A. BBQ's Smoked Lengua Tacos for L.A. Taco

Originally published for L.A. Taco on Nov. 16th, 2018.

Not even a heart attack, an unsustainable business model of pop-ups, or the haters have stopped David Marin of East L.A. BBQ from accomplishing his dream of finally having a brick-and-mortar home in the form of the new Mexican craft beer bar in Boyle Heights, Xelas.  

It’s been almost five years since Marin took his hobby of playing with fire, meat, and Mexican sazón at tailgates for Raider games into a full-fledged business. His pioneering style of Mexican-inspired BBQ in Los Angeles has inspired a new wave of vendors doing a similar style in the area, but he and his wife Carla Marin – who is always on his side serving their loyal customers with a smile – never lost focus.

“We were never trying to compete with anyone, like the saying in Español says, ‘el sol sale para todos.’” (The sun shines for everyone.) Marin shares as he shows up to Xelas at 4 PM in the afternoon to start preparing for service. He still works part-time at an office job in the City of Vernon selling prom dresses online that has gotten him by for the last 18 years.

He may not have as many followers or internet fame as the rest of the BBQ players in Los Angeles at the moment, but he’s flown low and perfected his flagship dishes like his smoked lengua tacos, where the cow tongue is smoked for a couple of hours and then braised in beer. Or, his smoked wings smothered in pipian verde, one of Mexico’s more savory mother mole sauces made from toasted green pumpkin seeds. Smoked pork in chile verde and a smoked chicken tinga taco are other specialities that Dave is also proud of.

“It just seemed like a given, man, to combine the essential flavor of backyard carne asadas in L.A. and the religion of low-and-slow BBQ into its own thing that celebrates both.”

Just shy of a month after fully recovering from a heart attack at 38 years old, Marin is using his newfound opportunity in life to stop “living la vida gorda” as he calls it and build a better life with more time for self-care, balance, and of course moderation.