Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Viva comida Mexicana!

In which we discover some good Mex in The Valley

I went to high school with Michael Franti, the lead singer/provocateur of the band, Spearhead. He was one year behind me in school. Nice guy, rather into New Wave at that time, as I remember. Now he is quite admired in contemporary music and progressive political circles. These days, he doesn't wear shoes in sympathy with the poor of the world, a thing I would find admirable if I didn't have a typically bourgeois fear of dirty feet. Prior to Spearhead, Franti was in a band called the Beatnigs, which did a song - or rather a poem set to music - called “Burritos,” that I remember was a lot of fun to listen to and rhyme along with. I’m sure also that it had some social justice spin to it, but I don’t remember all of the lyrics and I can’t find them on the web. Anyway, doesn’t matter. I’m here to talk about burritos, the food, not “Burritos” the song. I just used Franti’s song as a segue. (Sorry, Michael.)

Anyway, being a San Franciscan, I am a stickler for a proper burrito. No doubt San Francisco’s Mexican food is influenced by the city’s rich “foodie” culture. In any case, San Francisco has the best burrito joints in the world, the entire country of Mexico notwithstanding. There is a degree of options, freshness and volume unavailable anywhere else.

When I first came to the L.A. area two years ago, I was surprised at the limitations I found at most burrito joints and taco stands. After all, there are more Mexicans in L.A. County than there are in some Mexican states. You’d think the Mexican food culture here would be plentiful and rich. But nooo – choices are few, menus are strict, and freshness is, well, lacking.

But since I’ve moved from the Southern slopes of the Hollywood Hills to the Northern slopes – and moved to a new job to boot – I’ve found two great Mexican joints that I want to recommend. The first is Tortas Mexico. A torta, for those of limited experience with the cuisine of the nation of Quetzlcoatl, is a sandwich on a firm roll. The joint serves tortas, of course, as well as tacos, chile rellenos, burritos, enchiladas, chile colorado dinner plates and all that at very, very good prices. Not as much choice as a SF burrito house, but pretty up-to-snuff. And it’s half a block away from my new apartment, in a little strip mall at Vineland and Ventura, next to the popular Hollywood "key grip" bar, Maeve’s Residuals. Location counts for a lot in the Southland.

The other is near my office. It’s a little hole in the wall called Los Chavos Tacos, on the corner of N. Buena Vista and Victory. The great thing about this place is that it is fresh, fresh, fresh! Their carne asada is some of the best I’ve ever tasted.


Post a Comment

<< Home