It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with food courts, a passion that dates back to my childhood. So I was excited to hear the news that the famous chefs behind La Casita Mexicana in Bell have just opened a new food court concept called Flautas in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall. Like 101 Noodle Express in the Fox Hills Mall or Loteria’s Torta Company in Fig At 7th, it’s just the latest development in a food court renaissance that has been sweeping through Southern California malls over the past few years.
Archive for 'Mexican'
I don’t know what you think you mean when you say the word burrito, but I know what I think of. I think of a tightly packed nugget of perfection. One that is wrapped in paper and/or tin foil and will stand up on its own. I think of something that will never be touched by a fork or a knife, and doesn’t have a “wet” option (if anything, the more dry the better.) I think of something that has more rice than beans, and those beans will be black or pinto, not refried. And don’t talk to me about Chipotle. If I’m in San Diego, you can replace those rice and beans with french fries and I won’t complain. Sour cream and/or guacamole? Yes please. And the meat is there to add fat and some textural contrast, not as a vehicle for heavy spices or some kind of chile sauce. That flavor gets added at the end when you choose which salsa you want to put on your burrito… ideally bite by delicious bite. Call it a San Francisco burrito, use the word “mission” if you want, but I just call it a burrito when I say I have never had a good burrito in Los Angeles.
That is until yesterday, when I had the burrito at Taco Love- a grossly misnamed new shop on Sunset near Crescent Heights. Because it’s not the tacos you’ll love at this place. It’s all about the burrito.
You can get a lot of good food news following our Instagram account @midtownlunchLA. Like, for example, this…
If you haven’t been to the Guerrilla Tacos Truck recently (or ever), the gourmet taco slinger that’s been outside of Handsome Coffee a few days a week since last year, here’s a pretty great reason to check it out: they’re now serving breakfast burritos during their 9am to 2pm service! There’s one $10 burrito option per day, and the filling will likely be familiar to anybody who has had Wes Avila’s gourmet tacos before. Think, chorizo and sweet potato, lamb shank with pickled onions, and braised oxtail. Some will think it’s a tad bit pricey for a breakfast burrito that is admittedly large, but doesn’t come with a drink or chips or anything on the side, but one bite and you’ll likely forget about all that. And the best part is, there’s great coffee just steps away from both of their breakfast/lunch stops.
For breakfast and lunch the truck can be found on Wednesdays parked outside of Cognoscenti Coffee in Culver City from 9am to 2pm. And Handsome Coffee Roasters in DTLA on Tuesday and Fridays from 9am to 2pm, and they’re adding Saturdays and Sunday starting on November 2nd.
- Cognoscenti Coffee, 6114 Washington Blvd, Culver City
- Handsome Coffee Roasters, 582 Mateo St, Los Angeles
When I put together my Perfect 2 hour taco crawl of L.A. last year that started at Ricky’s Fish Tacos (RIP) and ended at Mariscos Jalisco, I included Mexicali Taco & Co. even though their tacos aren’t the best thing on the menu. After all, why let semantics deprive you of delicious vampiros and egg topped cachetadas? But recently Mexicali started serving up two new taco specials that are both making me re-consider the carne asada vampiro as my go to order.
Finding al pastor during lunch is not an impossible task. Finding real al pastor? Now that’s a different story. Most taco trucks offer some kind of version of marinated pork, possibly topped with pineapple- or not. But finding that real deal, cut from a spit shawarma-like ribbons of beautiful red al pastor topped with fat covered pineapple that’s cut from the very same spit can be more of a challenge. And finding it in the Midtown Lunch boundaries (between Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica) is basically impossible.
Sure, I can always get my fill of real pastor after the sun goes down at the famous Taco Leo Truck on Venice and La Brea (or even at Rico’s Tacos, the new upstart stand on Fairfax and Pico.) But what about during the day? Is there some unwritten rule that says you can’t serve al pastor from a spit while the sun still shines? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t drive by Venice and La Brea on my way to lunch every day hoping that one day I’d see that orange truck, parked in the gas station parking lot serving up $1 al pastor tacos from their beautiful trompo. And yesterday my dreams finally came true. (Kind of.)
Back in February, to celebrate the two year anniversary of Midtown Lunch: Los Angeles, I put together a list of the 21 best lunches in L.A. In addition to being a milestone celebrator and a shameful traffic builder it also meant that I now have a link I can send any friends from out of town when they visit and want to be taken to lunch. Naturally Mexican food dominates the list (6 of the 21 places), but I realized something interesting when a couple of friends from Boston visited last week. Why eat at one place, when you can eat at 5. In other words, there is a pretty spectacular lunchtime taco crawl to be had between Los Feliz and Boyle Heights. And the best part is, you not only get to try 5 completely different styles of taco, but it can all be done in two hours if you don’t dilly dally.
Mexican smoothies, shakes, and paletas might be ubiquitous in some parts of Los Angeles, but in Culver City if you want a mamey shake, watermelon liquida, or mezcal & walnut ice cream there’s only one place you’ll ever need to go: Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars. Nestled in the corner of a strip mall on Sepulveda between Jefferson and Culver, Mateo’s is well known for their fruit juices, Mexican popsicles, milk shakes, and ice cream. (And apparently their coffee ice cream is especially good.) But did you know they also serve sandwiches?