[Editor's Note: Last Monday we got an email from a reliable tipster who saw a burrito vending machine being tested inside a gas station in West Hollywood. A quick scan of other food blogs showed that no one had the story yet, so we dispatched the intrepid Ali Kahn, who will eat anything, to get the scoop of the century in the field of automated Mexican-American food. Alas, his toddler-aged son had just gone down for a nap and Ali was stuck at home. Meanwhile, by Tuesday afternoon everyone had the story and in the end the whole thing is ridiculous anyway as there are decent, fast burritos available on pretty much any block in this city. Nevertheless, Ali did end up getting and consuming a burrito from the burrito box, and here is his somewhat surprising review]
Everybody and your Grandma in Toledo by now has heard about the greatest culinary launch in the history of West Hollywood Mobil stations. But are the burritos from the Burrito Box any good? Well, before I launch myself onto planet hypocrite after posting a favorable video review of this Burrito makin’ Robot , Let’s get a run down of the obvious and the obviously awesome:
It’s in a gas station.
It plays music videos.
A Japanese taco isn’t such a strange sight. Even Nobu’s into tacos. Neither is the tempura fish taco an anomaly, given all that we know about the influence of Japanese fishermen on Baja’s favorite battered export (and the crowd that forms for Ricky’s). Nor is it totally bizarre to catch a tempura fish taco at a sushi restaurant. Frying is precise in preserving the integrity, taste and moisture of its contents, much like a dedicated itamae does by not cooking your food, while still offering all the flavor and textural benefits of an evenly browned skin. And none of these things should surprise us because, above all else, this is Los Angeles, where few tacos go unfused.
At the Friday night opening of The L.A. Times food event, The Taste, Juan’s Restaurante offered armadillo tacos in a red guajillo chile sauce. The Baldwin Park restaurant, known for its pre-Columbian recipes, paired the taco with corn tortillas, prickly pear cactus, and combas, or pre-Hispanic beans. The armadillo meat, which was consumed along with meats from deer, tapirs, iguanas, and monkeys back in the early Americas, reminded us a little of pork, with a slight funk to the flavor and the chefs had the critter’s shell on display.
Shot and edited by Fernando Lopez, the video above features Bricia Lopez of the world-famous Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles. Combined with the recipe below, you’ll learn how to make delicious mole coloradito curry chicken at home. Enjoy it for dinner and then the leftovers will make great tacos the next day… You can get more recipes and jars of authentic mole at ILoveMole.com.
The Jolly Oyster Kitchen serves Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 to 7:00 P.M., at San Buenaventura State Beach Park.
Despite the South Coast’s surfeit of shoreline, ocean-adjacent dining hardly has any sea-legs in Southern California. Private playgrounds clog the cliff-sides of the Pacific Coast Highway, which comes dotted with the occasional high-priced or low-quality surf-and-turf chain, their high rents leaving little space for organic expressions of the Pacific palate, nor the sterling sea life sourced from the Santa Barbara Channel and surrounding depths.
Visitors and locals alike will be stumped to find signature seafood recipes akin to Maine’s lobster rolls or Maryland’s crab houses that truly reflect our relationship with Southern California’s native shores. Our favorite fried fish tacos were ferried in from points south; our cioppino arrived from the north. The Central Coast’s prized urchins and spot prawns are considerably more likely to be shipped to Japan or relished in an Encino strip mall sushi spot than in the region’s seaside restaurants. And even though places like the Redondo Pier’s Quality Seafood makes crustaceans, whole fish, and molluscs approachable, eating by the beach in L.A. typically means someone is going to Gladstone’s or Neptune’s Nets, more famous for their ocean vistas than their seafood selections.
The great Boris Karloff was born in England, found fame as Frankenstein’s monster (and also played Frankenstein, thank you, readers, for the correction) in Hollywood, and finished his career in Mexico (awesome example at the end of this post). Somewhere along the way he developed a strong affinity for Mexican food, as the article above, found on BadassDigest, explains, along with telling its readers that guac is an “avocado-based sauce”. His recipe for guacamole has an English twist, with a dash of sherry thrown in along with more common ingredients:
Because somedays you just say “Fuck it. Give me a double chili cheeseburger.”
For the record I am not a chili cheeseburger kinda guy. I like chili on occasion. I like cheeseburgers very often. But I don’t need them at the same time. Much like the argument with bacon, good beef patties don’t need friends from the meat department. But we are at the original Yuca’s on Hillhurst; a venerable, James Beard award winning taco stand, where Cochinita Pibil is simmering away in a corner burner, skirt steaks are getting a serious char on the griddle and the cashier is practically giving away double chili cheeseburgers at a price of $5 with tax – I think you realize why I had to go for it. (Continued)
“Yo-ho, yo-ho, a taco life for me.” The benefits of the taco lifestyle were on naked display to everyone at Tacolandia, Saturday’s celebration of the city’s favorite staple. These convictions were doubly confirmed spying the event’s culinary curator, Bill Esparza, strutting through the massive with Miss Los Angeles on one arm and Dita Von Teese on the other. Direct benefits of the man’s dedication to this here taco life. In fact, everyone at Hollywood’s Palladium that afternoon reaped the rewards of Esparza’s epicurean experience and deep connections to gifted chefs as various and voracious members of L.A.’s many taco tribes joined up under the sun in the parking lot of the Palladium to sip drinks and shoot the breeze, all while eating very well. (Continued)
Bill Esparza single-handedly raised our standards for authentic asada, carnitas, and pastor in L.A. through his blog Street Gourmet L.A. and writing in The L.A. Times and O.C. Weekly. Fueled by fastidious explorations of the regionally rich and diverse culinary culture of Mexico’s many states while traveling as a professional saxophone player, the Stockton native often plays secret weapon as a consultant on other parties’ street food events, intrepid eaters’ television shows, and fancy restaurants State-specific Mexican menus. Next Sunday, Esparza presents his own event, Tacolandia, in a partnership with L.A. Weekly at The Palladium. Priced at $20, the writer promises us, “I’ve put together a tight group of vendors that is a refreshing break from the usual Gourmet Truck fests–not knocking them–I love them and support them for real as I support all street food venues–but it’s nice to offer something different. We also have the best Mexican chefs in town: Rocio Camacho, Jimmy Shaw, Jaime and Ramiro (of Bell’s Casita Mexicana). We have the 4 Baja chefs and stands, Trey Foshee from George’s on the Cove in Coronado, we have traditional mom and pops, and some chefs doing great things with tacos–Wes Avila, Joshua Gil, Laurent Quenioux–can you say…escamoles?–and Ricardo Zarate.”
Al and Bea’s is a Boyle Heights institution. Cops, kids, old people, and everyone else in between all seem to find an excuse to make a mid afternoon snack stop on 1st street. The history of Boyle Heights is the story of Los Angeles itself; a constantly changing landscape of immigrants, trying to live the American dream through hard work and molding and shaping this city with their respective cultures and traditions. What was once the home to the original Canter’s is now an oasis of famous Mexican eateries. The food at Al & Bea’s is classic Mexican American: comforting bean and cheese burritos, vintage hard shelled tacos, fast food french fries effusing guilt ridden grease and of course, burgers.