“Brick and Mortar” Mexican Food

Ξ May 7th, 2008 | → 3 Comments | ∇ 90065, Beyond Northeast, Food |

With the Save Our Taco Trucks Campaign exploding, we’ve been too tied up to continue posting on the progenitor site.  Still, this old girl is getting jealous, so we thought it a good idea to show a little love for the “Brick and Mortar” restaurants that feel so left out lately.

First was El Mercadito in East Los Angeles.  The girlfriend and I had such a good time that first Sunday, we returned again the following weekend with friends.  The shops are pretty much what you can get on Figueroa, but the restaurant on the top floor has two stages with Mariachis.  In our visits, we tried the Shrimp Cocktail, Mole Burrito, Carnitas Burrito, Birria Gordita, and Camarones al Diablo.  The burritos were large and tasty but not really worth the trip, the Camarones al Diablo were tasty with a spiciness that slowly built until it had to be put out with a cold Bohemia, and the Gordita was delicious with the fried masa exterior and filling of shredded goat meat.  The culinary highlight though had to be the shrimp cocktail.  Loaded with shrimp, avocado, and cucumber, we could hardly finish it.  Probably the most enjoyable aspect of the day was the music.  Seven Mariachis belted out songs while staying away from the cliches that you tend to hear when you’re in a tourist trap (Rancho Grande, La Bamba, Cielito Lindo, etc.)  For a tip, customers could even come on stage and sing a few of their own favorites.

The following weekend brought a Verdugo-caused hangover that Antigua’s chilaquiles weren’t going to solve.  My girlfriend and I cruised down to Cypress Park for pozole at the original King Taco.  The large steaming bowl of hominy, pork, onions, and cilantro warmed me up and helped with my headache.  We also had a couple of delicious pork tamales and one tasty taco al pastor.  Seeing as the York has brought back the Orange Grove Ale, I think I’ll be heading back sooner rather than later.

Maybe the most apropos aspect of these trips was that we passed numerous Taco Trucks in order to get to the restaurants.    Our argument from the beginning is that the two eating establishments are in about as much  competition as Jack in the Box and El Arco Iris.  One is quick and cheap, the other provides a nicer and more expensive experience.  We also shouldn’t forget that King Taco began as a converted ice-cream truck.

El Mercado de Los Angeles
3425 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90063
King Taco
1118 Cypress Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Northeast notables that may interest only me:

1.  La Arca de Noe was featured in an NCIS episode titled “Iced”.  A Pretty terrible episode of a pretty terrible show had the restaurant as the headquarters of the “Vida Mala” Salvadoran gang based in Fairfax, Virginia.  I’m guessing some producer’s only contact with Hispanic culture was Ricky Martin, and he then confused the word “mala” with “mara”.  Still, it was fun to see the Jesus mural on the side of the Highland Theater.

2.  The front page of the Boulevard Sentinel had articles on Debs Park and the Highland Park Transit Village.  Looks like we have a fan in the local media.


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