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Oct 27, 2006 05:24 PM

Not new but still GOOD: Loteria Grill review w/ photos

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Food Of The Gods: Loteria Grill, Farmer's Market

What can be said about the food at Loteria Grill that has not yet been said? Everyone in Los Angeles (and any self-respecting food fanatic outside of LA) has already heard the "oooohs" and "aaaaahs" emitted from the mouths lucky enough to have eaten a Loteria Grill taco (or burrito, or chilaquiles, for that matter). Located in The Farmer's Market at The Grove, it sits in the middle of other popular-but-not-even-as-awesome food stands that make up the market.

The Grove is basically a shopping mall- a collection of clothing stores like Banana Republic and awful chain restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory in front of which, inexplicably, there is always a mile-long line. It's an ok place to stroll around in good weather, but it does feel like an imitation city (which it basically is) and has a Knott's Berry Farm sort of vibe.

On the same property is the Farmer's Market- a collection of food shops and stands and a very small vegetable/fruit stand which I suppose is the actual market. There are butchers and fish mongers amidst the French Crepe Company, a newer Brazilian churrasco counter which seems to be very popular and several burger joints. Walking around this place when you're hungry can be dangerous- everywhere you look, there's food. Funnel cakes here, pulled pork's a gallery of good (but bad) things to eat.

As much variety as The Farmer's Market offers, there is a bright beacon that outshines them all. No matter how many times I go to the Farmer's Market, no visit is complete without a taco from Loteria Grill. Yes, the $2.25 for one taco is practically quadruple the price of any taco I'd get in Highland Park (where I live) but the soft, thick corn tortillas topped with tender cochinita pibil and pickled red onions is worth every penny.

My sister and I went last weekend and parked ourselves at the counter. It works much like a sushi counter- flag down a chef, put an order in for a taco or two, eat, then think about ordering another and go ahead and order. Eat, order, eat, order...ok, I'm guessing you get the idea by now. We started with the chips and "salsa" which is a semi-chunky, mole-colored concoction packed with flavor in every drop. Sis got 2 tacos - the chicken en mole and a cochinita pibil. I also got the latter and a papas (potato) with poblano taco- one of my all time faves. It's like the best mashed potatoes on earth- rich, slightly buttery and filled with smokey poblanos with just a touch of heat. Piled high on one of their beautiful corn tortillas and topped with salsa verde and queso fresco, it's the Food of the Gods. I could eat mounds of this stuff. In fact, I think I may forego the traditional Thanksgiving mashed potatoes one year and get a vat of this instead.

A couple sitting next to us ordered 12 tacos of different varieties which whetted our appetites even more so we each got one more taco. My sis tried the world-famous shredded beef which she proclaimed as her new favorite taco. I went for a stewed-tomatoey-shredded-chicken taco (not the official name, I'm guessing) which was good but nowhere near the pibil or potato ones.

As much as I wanted to order more, my stomach would not allow and we walked off, completely satisfied. I love sitting at the counter and watching the guys make the burritos, quesadillas, albondigas, enchiladas and other delights but it only makes me wish my stomach was three times the size it is. Who can resist such goodness?!

Loteria Grill
6333 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3109
(888) 783-2305

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  1. Wow...I wish I felt the same about this place. I had a recent experience here, and I thought the tacos were awful.

    The carnitas...the meat was dried-out and tasteless. Overcooked pork.

    The portions were microscopic.

    They only benefit from being in a very touristy area.

    Oh well. I'll have to find one of those trucks and get my taco fix elsewhere...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Liquid Sky

      After a recent disasterous CH recommendation, I've learned to disregard 99% of Mexican food reviews on this site unless by someone truly experienced in the cuisine like Dommy, slowrider, etc.

      1. re: Ernie

        I don't think you need to be experienced in a cuisine to know whether or not it's good. A top-trained Mexican chef can think something is fabulous and authentic and - alas - a non-experienced person can still hate it. Taste is subjective.

        I think the tacos at Loteria are fantastic, especially the potato and the shredded beef. But that's just my humble opinion :)

        1. re: Ernie

          I guess you should disregard my review then

        2. re: Liquid Sky

          Agree, the tacos are small, were o.k. taste-wise, and therefore a poor value for money option. OTOH, the Burritos I saw other people having look rather large in comparison and what I'd get instead if I were to go back.

        3. It's all about the nachos. Best ever! That green rice is also great and the plantains are not to be missed. They do have some great stuff, just have to know what to get. And the banana leaf is just around the way....I do love the market!

          1. the potato and chicken tinga tacos, and the chicken taquitos, are *&#@#%! great.

            1. I wonder if the type of experience people have depends upon when they go? I am personally on the "dry tasteless cold" side of this argument, BUT I've only been on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon, times when it's slammed. Maybe if I went at a time it's not as harried I'd like it better. I keep reading rave reviews, so I maybe I'm mistiming my visits.

              1. I've been a number of times and have had experiences ranging from "this is the best freakin'carne deshebrada i've ever tasted" to "too bad this taco is cold and dry." Loteria Grill is amazing when the ingredients are fresh and hot; it's tolerable when the meat has been sitting around too long and tortillas have been pre-made and are sitting in a pile. I go when I'm in the neighborhood. Otherwise, I'd rather eat the tacos in Highland Park where I live.