Photo Recap: #SoCalStreetBurger Finale

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The contest to create the ultimate burger #SoCalStreetBurger, concluded at Dodger Stadium last weekend, bringing together a shared love of burgers, beer, and creativity. Estevan Oriol, DJ Skee, and Ben Baller were among the celebrity judges who had to choose a winning burger among two finalists who bested hundreds of other entries to make it to the main event.

The winner was the KBBQ Poutin Burger by Andy Tran, who took home the $10,000 prize. Please enjoy this gallery of images from the ultimate burger event from photographer Erwin Recinos.

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L.A. Street Food: Past, Present, and Future ~ An Interview with Farley Elliott

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Farley Elliott has been writing about food in Los Angeles for the last five years, and is the author of the forthcoming book  Los Angeles Street Food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks, (Amazon) which investigates the current street food scene along with the long and varied history of street food in L.A. The book functions as both a coffee-table book, a history, and a guide to what’s happening right now. We got the chance to interview Farley about the book and his personal faves on the street, tacos and otherwise. You can buy the book and meet the author in person at Skylight Books this weekend

L.A. TACO: What surprised you most about L.A. Street Food when writing the book? 
Farley Elliott: It’s a really endless tunnel to start traveling down. You get into cuisines, then regional versions of certain dishes, then you can start to look at the ways in which L.A. itself has shaped those regional versions. It’s honestly endless. All you can do is keep learning — about the history, the people, the families responsible for bringing certain things here.

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This is L.A.’s Most Underground Burger

Wes Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos is universally considered among the best tacos in Los Angeles, if not the world. What happens when Wes decides to do a burger for one night only in a secret location? This is Los Angeles, so nothing should surprise you…

The Guerrilla Burger Recipe:
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10 Essential Street Foods in South Los Angeles

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First We Feast continues to impress with their coverage of all parts of Los Angeles, rare for any publication without its HQ in the city, and often uncommon even for purely local publications. Following up on Tony Chen’s coverage of The Rise of the Compton Taco, editor Erin Mosbaugh files a survey of street food options in South L.A. as recommended by Street Gourmet LA Bill Esparza.

Opening with the line “For those Angelenos who don’t make it south of the 10 Freeway, we have one thing to say: We feel sorry for you.” the roundup includes ten essential street foods including this blog’s favorite carnitas (Carnitas el Momo, winner of our taco of the year award). Here’s an excerpt and the link:

Tortas at Super Tortas D.F.
Address and phone:
 E 41st St (just off the southwestern corner of E 41st St and S Central Ave), South L.A. (323-351-8379)
Good for: Expertly-layered combo sandwiches prepared by trained torteros 

Esparza says: “These guys are genuine, skilled sandwich makers trained in Mexico City, which makes a world of difference. They’re really conscientious about the bread they’re using—it’s made for them at a local bakery to their specifications. They’re offering all those different, fun combinations that you’d find at a Mexico City-style torta stand: sandwiches named after people from different countries (Suiza, Española), states in Mexico (Poblana, Toluqueña), and sexy girls. But the Cubana is the mother of all tortas; it has everything. For the Cubana, the tortero takes some eggs, scrambles them, throws them out on a huge flat crate, and drops some chorizo in there. Then he starts cutting the omelet and folding it in layers. He takes that super-thin, layered omelet and puts it onto the sandwich, along with hot dogs, milanesa, several different cold cuts, yellow and white cheese, avocado, a thin layer of mayo and refried beans, tomato, lettuce, onion, chiles chipotles, and pickled jalapeños.”

Read the full article here.

7 Flautas You’ll Want to Try at Flautas, Now Open at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

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Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, the talented chefs behind what may be LA’s most important Mexican restaurant, La Casita Mexicana in Bell, today debut their fast-casual ode to a traditional Western Mexican dish with Flautas. For an in-depth discussion of the concept, check out this interview with Jaime and Ramiro from last year on Food GPS.

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Located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw food court adjacent to their full-service restaurant Mexicano (which opens next month), Flautas is a quick option with a pretty impressive sounding menu. Keep reading for the full description of some of the 14 different flautas offered…

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Chasing Down the Rhino: Catching Up With REV Brewing’s Alex “Rhino” Rebollo

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I really like jazz.  I bring up jazz because I’ve always loved one thing in particular about it…the way groups shout out their “personnel.” If you are part of a good jazz band (even a bad one)…odds are you’ll be called out by name during a show to acknowledge your contribution to the ensemble. When they do, it’s time for your solo. Everyone gets their shine. But with that comes responsibility…you have to show and prove–you  know, be able to keep your seat. You can’t f— it up. One bad note and it’s a wrap. Craft beer is a bit like jazz. It takes a solid squad to produce great beer. No slouches. Everyone has to play a position…and play it well. You have to do your part; otherwise, things can go to sh-t very quickly. Improvisation is encouraged, but you better nail it. Everyone’s watching and waiting to see what you’ve got.

So for this post, I wanted to give some shine to Alex “Rhino” Rebollo…a guy who has contributed his everything in helping build a true LA beer culture—one we can be proud of. I credit him for being an integral part of sparking this whole pedo. Like in jazz, you gotta give props where props are due. Have you heard of this guy called Rhino? If not, then you’re probably not deep in this beer game. Let me explain.

About 4 years ago, I was trying to bring a craft beer from Tijuana called Insurgente into the LA market. You may be familiar with these guys now after their collaboration with Stone and Chris Banker for “Xocoveza.” But back then, they were one of the few Mexican craft beers really killing it at beer competitions around Mexico…and even getting some attention in San Diego. Man, I was so eager to get them into LA. Only issue, I kept hitting bumps in the road. I was so ready top throw in the towel.

But  I kept hearing the name “Rhino.” Everyone I spoke  to told me I had to meet this guy. I heard he was from East Los (like me), knew his stuff, and had been cool with Greg from Stone from Day 1. He was even around when Greg was trying to slang a brew that would later be known as “Arrogant Bastard” back when LA was not really ready for it. Dude also wrote for the Beers In Paradise guys, was a fixture in brew circles, and would most likely be someone who’d be able to help me–or at least point me in the right direction. Funny, he started to sound like a “Godfather” figure or something. I was told you were not legit unless this guy said you were. Long story short, the Insurgente thing fell through, which sucks, but I gained a good friend nonetheless. Word on the street is he is now part of REV Brewing out of Covina…a new brewery that has been gaining a gang of buzz. I’m really looking forward to checking them out when they open to the public on Friday, December 5– AKA Today. Hope to see you there.

Without further ado…let me introduce you to my friend, Rhino. Salud!
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Beyond Oktoberfest: 12 Top German Brews Picks

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I know…I’m late for an Oktoberfest post, but I still wanted to share with you some great brews you can enjoy during and beyond the season. Ahhh, Oktoberfest. You know how it goes down– 16 days beginning in late September where all your friends try to convince you to roll out to an overcrowded beer festival where most people end up getting too wasted.  Hey, I’m not knocking anyone, as long as they’re responsible enough to have a designated driver to get them back home in one piece.  Because I’m not a big fan of crowds, and surprisingly a lightweight, I tend to stay away from big fests and turn my attention to drinking at home or with a close group of friends.

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Master of Fermentation: An Interview with David Ehreth of Sonoma Brinery

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Sonoma Brinery makes the best pickles we’ve ever bought from a supermarket. We’ve wanted to interview founder and master fermenter Dave Ehreth, a former engineer, for a long time just based on his kosher pickles, but were surprised and thrilled to find out he’s also interested in Mexican and Central American foods. Here we discuss the art of pickling, and his new products which include a curtido and Jalapeños en Escabeche…

Do you remember the first great pickle you ever had?
Yes. My father took me to a restaurant in San Francisco when I was young, Tommy’s Joint. He wanted to show me what a true kosher pickle was like; fermented, no vinegar, completely fresh. He was from New York and knew what a great kosher should be like. From that moment, when I was about 10 years old, I have been in love with real kosher pickles. I mean, really in love with these pickles. I used to drive 40 miles to San Francisco just to get a few of these pickles. Later in life, when I traveled on business to New York, I would round up kosher pickles and bring them home on the plane.

What got you into the pickling business?
After 30 years in the tech business, I decided to launch a second career; I was going to bring this great pickle to the West Coast. I saw the food revolution change our bread from white bread to baguette, iceberg lettuce to arugula. But our pickles were still vinegar and chemical soaked imitations of the real kosher. The true kosher is a harder pickle to make and manage, but just like the white-bread-to-baguett transition, worth every bit of the effort.

What, in your mind, makes a truly great pickle?
Great pickles begin as great cucumbers. A truly great pickle should be fresh, crisp, lightly acidic, mildly salty and have all the character of the cucumber it was made from. When you eat a great pickle, it should feel light on the pallet and should not leave you feeling like you just drank a cup of battery acid.

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Brews with the Brewjos: Talking Home Brew and Tacos with Brewjeria Co.

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I’ve been covering beer for a few years through my beer page and Instagram account, @inthesuds, and now I’ve been asked by the fine folks at L.A. TACO to bring some beer coverage to their street art and street food mix. I’m calling my new beer column here “Carbonacion,” and I hope you enjoy reading it! Thanks to L.A. Taco for having me…

It has been both a pleasure and a challenge navigating through all the new breweries sprouting up with all over LA. Some are better than others, but at the heart of every beer is home brewing. Everyone has to crawl before they can walk, right?

This is particularly true with making the leap from home brewing to commercial. If you’re a nerd like me, you can appreciate when guys and ladies get resourceful and put together their own brew kit. Investigating the L.A. scene, I wanted to see if there were some home brewers making noise who were on the verge of making that leap from their backyard shed to a brick and mortar location. The name Brewjeria came up in several conversations…

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Bang for your Burger Buck: Dog Haus Biergarten ~ Pasadena, CA

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Hi, my name is Freiburger, I’m a triple topping monstrosity made by men who worship hot dogs and sausages as much as burgers. I live in a Dog Haus. You will like me.

A lot can be said of a restaurant when describing the ambiance. At Dog Haus, the extended drum solo of Rush’s Closer to the Heart, playing in the background, is all you need to know. Shiny, ultra skinny flat screens broadcasting all manner of sports? Check. Full Bar? Check. High Caloric Burger Concept menu that you will gladly hit the repeat button for, like your favorite Rush album loaded on your 10 disc trunk mounted cd magazine? Um, Check.

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Photos: The Wild and Delicious Food of the Los Angeles County Fair 2014

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The L.A. County Fair is on now through September 28th. Our events editor Erwin Recinos filed this report on his picks from the proudly over-the-top food you can try this year.

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