El Gallo Giro ~ Huntington Park

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7148 Pacific Blvd (@ Florence) ~ Huntington Park, CA 90255 ~ (323) 585-4433  (TACO Map)

Having spent some time in Huntington Park in the past year, I have grown to love the area, especially the bustling commercial strip of Pacific Boulevard between Florence and Slauson. One of the most action-packed hubs here is the sizable “El Gallo Giro” restaurant on a corner with Tokyo-sized foot traffic. I met up with TACO-loco editor Hadley and an OG Vegas friend of ours from the juvenile delinquent days, along with his dog, Buster, so that we could tackle the restaurant’s formidable best-seller: the torta cubana ($6.95).

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Upon entering, you find your senses gang-banged by the multicolored papel picado decor strung from the walls, the almost too loud pre-recorded mariachi music, and various confusing lines of people. Gallo Giro is usually pretty busy — for restaurants, this is typically a good sign, no? Unfortunately, the set-up is slow and inefficient: there is one line for ordering at a taco station, one line for ordering tortas, one line for guisados (stews), and then one line used to order homemade horchata, atole, and fresh juices, then one to pay. It’s crazy but it suits the place, the aggravation is just part of the Gallo Giro experience.

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The tacos here are good — actually a little more expensive than the trucks, but the tortillas and ingredients are a little more substantial than most. It is the torta cubana here that is really la estrella. Hadley, reaching to his days in Havana, thought this was going to be a Cuban sandwich: a pressed sandwich with dill pickles, roast pork or ham, and Swiss cheese. But the torta cubana is an entirely different animal, a beast with a belly of pierna (marinated pork leg), milanesa (breaded beef), ham, head cheese, avocado, a chile, a slice of fresh Mexican-style white cheese, and beans.

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If you don’t know what head cheese is, don’t ask. And skip this next paragraph because ignorance is bliss. I’m one of those guys who will try crazy, weird food and often come back for seconds. For those of us for whom the risk of food poisoning from the local ceviche on your honeymoon in Colombia is just part of the adventure, this explanation is for you: Head cheese has been described as a kind of lunch meat made from “parts of a hog’s head, which are boiled together with spices and gelatin, then cooled and sliced, [resulting in] a mosaic of meat chunks.” The gelatin melts into the soft bread (baked on the premises) under the interior heat of the meats, contributing to a velvety texture in the overall experience, leaving flavorful pork trimmings strewn across your plate. The sandwich is a huge mouthful and every bite seems to yield a different mouthful of meat, some spiced and thin, others chewy and lightly sauced. The aguacate, cheese, and beans give off creamy sensations as you maw and tear at the layers of carne.

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It was a nice day, so we took advantage of the outside tables on the busy street. Hadley swears that he felt like he was getting Mad Cow Disease with each bite after I broke down the head cheese recipe, but, “in a good way”, he assured me. It’s not that spicy on its own, so I asked for some red chile to augment my dining experience. The on-site bakery, which contributes the sandwich’s delicious bun is also full service, making cakes and all of the standard Mexican pastries. The good folks at Gallo Giro also provide a service to send cash remittances back to Mexico ala Western Union. Apparently, they know their customers well and must be giving the people what they want; like I said before this place always seems busy. In what also might be a measure of their success, they have nine other locations in the Southland, and are migrating north to look for opportunities in Oxnard, Oakland, San Jose.

I guess we can sum it up by saying that El Gallo Giro is a bit more than your average restaurant, and its torta cubana is quite a bit more than your average sandwich. By all means, if you go to El Gallo Giro at any of their locations, try the torta cubana, head cheese be damned. Thanks to their inefficient ordering system where they make the damn thing in front of you, you can ask them to leave off the head cheese if you really want to wimp out. Headcheese or no, the sandwich is still a pretty intimidating one. They do make it easier by slicing it in half for you, but bring an appetite if you expect to finish a whole one. Better yet, split it with a friend, and your arteries will thank you later.

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Comments (17) to “El Gallo Giro ~ Huntington Park”

  1. Rio El Gallo Giro rules! You are my hero!!

  2. The photos are amazing. This article made my mouth water.

  3. Maestromoni: I am a big fan of your work, too.

    Eva: Hadley took the pictures, I wrote the article. There is probably a branch closer to you. Swerve on, baby, swerve on.

  4. puedo aplicar por internet

  5. I have been there a few times and the writer makes it sound worst than it is.
    The food is great and the lines are not too confusing. The language barrier might be the problem here. I live in San Jose CA and the local restaurant is not as good as the original.

  6. there is no parking there ever. the lines are always long all day long. but the food it good. after all i can walk to this location. lol

  7. There Food is Very Good And I grew there 2
    I will never ever forget about these place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hello, I am an the owner of the Taco Station in Riverside. Please visit our webpage.

    Que Viva el TACO…= -)

  9. I lov3 this plac3.b3cause i gr3w in l.a.I us3d 2 liv3 on zo3 av. Damn i miss3d L.A.

  10. Hola!!!
    me gustari trabajar en este lugar : D
    a ver si miran mi mssg.i know this place
    is open the 24hrs. im able to work in the night!.(AM)
    My Email Address: hazel86@hotmail.com

    thank you!

  11. Hola!!!
    me gustari trabajar en este lugar :D
    a ver si miran mi mssg.i know this place
    is open the 24hrs. im able to work in the night!.(AM)
    My Email Address: hazel86@hotmail.com

    thank you!

  12. Hola, yo vivi en california y deverdad la comida del gallo giro esta deliciosa ademas que cuando iba a los bailes saliendo el gallo giro era lo maximo para la cruda

  13. hola yo no conosco pero todo se ve delicioso y que bueno porque si no ya hubiera engordado 20 kilos ah si alguien conoce a marisol saludenmela desde mexico es mi hermana

  14. la verdad me dan ganas de llorar yo estube alli en el año 2000 y nunca podre olvidar ese lugar es lo maximo

  15. Hola???? yo conosco este lugar
    y es lo maximo…..

    la comida esta buenisima y autentica mexicana….. las tortas cubanas estan
    deliciosas.. todo esta buenisimo…

    les recomiendo 100% al gallo giro.

  16. hola yo mire esta pagina desde mexico y creo que cada vez que la vuelvo a ver la comida se mira mejor SI ALGUIEN MIIRA A MARISOL AGUIRRE SALUDENLA DE MI PARTEPOR FIS

  17. hola!!!
    les recomiendo el gallo giro yo fui varias veces y la verdad esta deliciosa para chuparse los dedos. !!!!! quiero volver al gallo giro extraño su sabor que envidia, pero ya volvere !!!!!!!!!!!!!