Tag Archives: Mexican food

March 23, 2010

23 Mar

10:15 am

Starbucks

1 tall nonfat latte

1 raspberry sunshine muffin

Since I’m not working, free food is a godsend. This was from Starbucks’ Free Pastry Day, which lasted til 10:30 am.

12 pm

Ben n’ Jerry’s

1 scoop of Cherry Garcia in a cone

It was also Free Cone Day at Ben N’ Jerry’s. My lunch consisted of a muffin and ice cream cone. I for one, support these new marketing tricks to lure in new customers.

7 pm

Loteria Grill

quesadilla de plazos

1 michelada especial

side of chips and salsa

Loteria Grill is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in LA. Chef Jimmy Shaw has an encyclopedic knowledge of regional Mexican cuisine, and he tries to reflect that on a relatively inexpensive menu. The influence is obviously uber-celebrity-chef Rick Bayless, and while the cooking isn’t as grand or ambitious, it’s still one of the more interesting Mexican food around. The full-service restaurant in Hollywood originally started with a menu that mirrored their food stand in the Farmers Market on Fairfax, but it has since expanded to included several dishes that are more complex than what you can get at the stand or most Mexican restaurants in general. And with that, the special quesadilla de plaza, a special that was supposed to be stuff with squash blossoms, huitlacoche and cheese, was a huge disappointment. I’m pretty sure I got the wrong thing delivered to me, but do to a time constraint, I didn’t have time to send it back. What I essentially ate were empanadas stuffed with cheese and corns that were completely unmemorable. I didn’t even see empanadas on the menu, yet that’s what I got. Since I ate a huitlacoche quesadilla from Huarache Aztecas the day before, the comparison made this dish even worse. Still, a glass of michelada, or cerveza preparada, hit the spot. It’s beer in a tall, salted-rim glass, flavored with lime juice and a generous dabs of hot sauce. It sounds odd, but the combination is refreshing. Once again, beer saves the night.

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March 22, 2010

22 Mar

9 am

1 brownie

glass of milk

2 pm

Huarache Azteca Restaurante

1 carne asada huarache

1 huitlacoche quesadilla

16 oz. cup of horchata

I think Mexican pizzas at Taco Bell are an abomination, but I have quite of bit of friends who like it. It is a deep-fried tostada with meat and dairy fat, so it has a basic appeal, even if Taco Bell is of questionable quality I suggest to any of my friends who like Mexican pizzas to make the journey to Huarache Azteca, in either Highland Park or by Dodger Stadium, and try a huarache. It’s sort of like a flatbread pizza, though it’s more a sope. A long, oblong mass of masa is pan-fried, topped with meat, onions, crema fresca, cotijo cheese and cilantro. This is the currency most of the customers at Huarache Azteca trade in. Just like a pizza, the crust is paramount, and the huarache’s masa dough is crunchy, slightly spiked with limes and addictive. I got mine with carne asada, but you have numerous options, including cabeza, or the gelatinous meat from a cow’s head, and chicharrones, or stewed pig skin.  The huitlacoche quesadilla, filled with black corn fungus that’s considered the Mexican truffle, is one of the more compelling Mexican dishes you can eat in LA.

4:30 pm

Sabor y Cultura

1 large coffee

1 chocolate-dipped biscotti

9 pm

1 bowl of instant ramen

1 bowl of rice

water

Jan. 18, 2010

18 Jan

10 am

Sabor y Cultura

1 lemon bar

1 small coffee

2 pm

Taco Bell

Drive-Thru Diet combo (2 steak fresca tacos, 1 large Diet Pepsi)

1 5-layer cheesy burrito

This meal was to commemorate Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell, who passed away on Monday. Most non-Angelenos assume that LA has great Mexican food. That is true, but this city’s greatest impact on Mexican cuisine, for better or for worse, is in it’s Americanization. Along with El Cholo restaurant (which will inevitably appear in a future post), Taco Bell shaped how Mexican food was thought of in the States. Bell’s obituaries does a good job explaining his role in how he did it. Taco Bell was for many Americans, the first taco they’ve ever ate. With the explosive growth of the Hispanic population in the United States, the idea of a taco and burrito as exotic food seems far-fetched. But even now, I have some friends from the Midwest who’s first introduction to Mexican food was Taco Bell.

I haven’t eaten Taco Bell in a long time. They recently relaunched their health food line under the “Drive-Thru Diet” tagline. The ad campaign is a direct copy of Subway’s Jared Fogle, which is ludicrous. How can anyone willingly eat these disgusting tacos regularly without going crazy? Even a Kate Moss-Pete Doherty diet has more taste appeal. I tried a couple of these new tacos and they’re terrible. The steak is completely gray, flavorless and worst of all, watery. The only other ingredients are lettuce and tomatoes, so there’s nothing else to detract from that horrible, horrible meat. To chase these tacos down, I also got a 5-layer cheesy beef burrito. This is the one with two tortillas and a layer of cheese between them. Taco Bell’s cheese sauce is essentially Cheese Whiz. Nutritionally, this is the exact opposite of the Drive-Thru Diet meal, but it’s disgusting in it’s own way.

8 pm

2 chicken breasts

side of steamed white rice

2 glasses of water

I whipped up a quick marinade with sriracha sauce, sugar, sesame oil and a little soy sauce. There was no recipe, I just grabbed whatever was in my cupboard and threw it all together. It didn’t turn out that bad.

Oct. 22, 2008

24 Oct

10 am

1 bowl of banana oatmeal

I hate oatmeal. Yet, I bought a box of instant oatmeal when I slipped into one of those “I need to eat better” phase while grocery shopping. Because of that, I suffered through breakfast.

1 pm

Gumbo Pot

1 Cajun meatloaf Po’ Boy

1 side of gumbo ya-ya

1 strawberry lemonade

Today is Abigal’s birthday and I needed to get her a gift. Like most guys, I’m terrible at gift-buying, gift-giving and just being thoughtful in general.  Thank God for Lucy, who told me she wanted this lip gloss for a while. It wasn’t the most personable gift, since I know shit about makeup. But my female co-workers assured me that it’s a thoughtful gesture since I actually asked for advise. If it wasn’t for Lucy, I probably would’ve gotten her a Starting Lineup figure of former St. Louis Cardinal Tom Pagnozzi.  My male co-workers would’ve opined that would’ve been a thoughtful gesture.

Gumbo Pot

6333 W. 3rd St. #312

Los Angeles, CA 90036

www.thegumbopotla.com

4 pm

1 can of sugar-free Red Bull

I know this guy who works on the Red Bull air race. He used to get cases of Red Bull for free. Not only did he offer cans to any guests that visited his house, he’d drink 3-4 cans a day. Holy hell, that’s like Uma Thurman routinely punching him with the Five-Pointed Palm Exploding Heart Technique from “Kill Bill.” He drank that shit like Red Bull was his sponsor. You don’t see Michael Jordan frolicking with Cuba Gooding Jr. while wearing Hanes underwear in real life. That’s just a horrible marketing ploy to make us wear tighty-whiteys so we can attract um, one of the stars of “Boat Trip.” My friend didn’t actually have to drink that much, unless he wanted everyone to notice that he works for Red Bull. I think his employer stopped giving away cases, which is good. I don’t want him to end up like Chris Penn.

8:30 pm

Loteria Grill Hollywood

1/2 order of beef nachos

4 bite-sized tacos

chile rellenos

2 margarita clasica, on the rocks with no salt

1/3 flan

When it opened two years ago in the middle of Farmer’s Market, Loteria Grill was a favorite of mine. Rick Bayless’ Topobolampo in Chicago was the first fancy restaurant I attended as a kid, and I developed an affinity for his high-end regional Mexican cuisine. Los Angeles, despite it’s numerous and great taco stands and burrito joints, only has a few high-end Mexican places. Loteria Grill somewhat filled that void and is very much in the Bayless school of Mexican food, or as much as they could pull off in a tiny kitchen. It’s cheap and convenient, and I must’ve tried everything on the menu.

A few months ago, Loteria Grill opened a full-service restaurant, complete with a full-service bar. The interior is simple, white and boxy, decorated primarily with giant vintage Mexican traveling posters. The margaritas are good, not sweet which is how I like it. And there’s complementary chips with a sauce made out of peppers, tomatoes and peanuts. It’s addictive. The menu, which I was slightly disappointed by, is exactly the same as the food stand. There were three entrees that pop up as regular specials at the food stand that’s a regular at the restaurant. The best one, the taco platter, features 14 bite-sized tacos you can eat with one bite.

Since no one else in the dinner party was up for it, I grabbed the chicharrones (pork skin), which has been stewed down to it’s basest, luxurious qualities, and it’s the best taco on the menu. I also ate a chicken taco with the same tinga sauce that came with the chips, and a nopalito (cactus) taco that was cool and tart.

From the other two entrees, I ordered the only one I’ve yet to try the chile rellenos. It certainly looks good on the plate

But it was my least favorite thing I ate from Loteria. The relleno on the right is filled with black beans, plantains and cheese and covered in black mole. It’s so dense, I couldn’t eat more than a bite. The beans and plantains blended together into a plaster-like consistency, and the plantains added nothing to the flavor. I just ate the mole, which is one of the better ones in LA. The other relleno simply stuffed with cheese, topped with red mole and accompanied by a crumble of chorizo, was much better.

BTW, we ate here for Abigail’s birthday. In lieu of cake, we got her a birthday flan. She enjoyed it very much. All in all, it was a lovely capper to the evening.

Loteria Grill Hollywood

6627 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 465-2500

www.loteriagrill.com

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