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Carne Asada Burritos at El Parian & Tacomiendo (Gateway)

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noshie Apr 21, 2008 08:55 AM

El Parian's carne asada (I had it in a burrito) was so good, but their salsa (both the red soupy kind served in a small bowl and the one in the squeeze bottle) was most decidedly not. The chips looked like they were from out of a bag.

Tacomiendo's (Gateway branch) carne asada was only ok. Good salsa bar though.

So (apart from El Abajeno) where can you have the best carne asada burrio experience where all three align?

  1. Frommtron Apr 23, 2008 10:57 AM

    IF (and that's a big if) Sabor a Mexico's new location is as good as the old then I think that should make you happy. They had the best salsa bar I've seen for sheer variety.
    The asada was always nice (not at el parian's level though). The chips . . . eh. They were ok.

    But as they say . . . 2 out of three aint bad.

    I'm not a huge fan of carne asada unless it's fresh fresh fresh grilled. El Parian has never let me down in that regard.

    Incidentally, try that table salsa from El Parian in the late summertime and tell me what you think. It's most decidedly not a complex salsa and it relies on high quality ingredients. Right now, the tomatoes they use are just nothat good because tomatoes in the winter/spring aren't very good. In the summer, you just might love it.

    The sauce in the squeeze bottle isn't for the asada, I don't think. El Parian makes a wonderful birria and I believe the stuff in the squeeze bottle is an achiote-based sauce to be used on the goat. I'm with you though, it doesn't do a thing for the asada.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frommtron
      susancinsf Jun 3, 2008 01:31 PM

      no salsa bar at the new Sabor a Mexico location when I've been there.

      1. re: susancinsf
        n
        noshie Jun 8, 2008 02:57 PM

        I just recently tried an Al Pastor burrito at Tacomiendo's branch on Inglewood and it was quite tasty. Maybe the Inglewood branch is better than Gateway (although I had a carne burrito on Gateway so it was apples and oranges)

    2. kare_raisu Apr 21, 2008 04:25 PM

      Gawd, El Parian's carne asada is lifechanging. got to get to La.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu
        w
        Wolfgang Apr 22, 2008 12:13 PM

        I tried Tacos Don Jorge (Venice and Cattaraugus) for the first time on Saturday. I had an al pastor taco and carne asada burrito. The al pastor taco was very enjoyable and priced well at $1.25. It's not as good as a spit al pastor like from the truck at La Brea and Olympic but it makes for a quite enjoyable, saucy taco. The carne asada is the griddled chuck Eat Nopal speaks of, which I like in its own right. The burrito was good but I've had better at La Playita and the truck parked on Rose and 4th--both griddled chuck.

        1. re: Wolfgang
          Eat_Nopal Apr 22, 2008 12:20 PM

          Yeah I should clarify... I do like the griddle chuck style as well, and order it often.... but its good, inexpensive everday stuff, and there many good, comparable versions out there and I don't think any of them stands out clearly beyond the other good versions.

          Where I get excited is when talking about a well butchered Arrachera marinaded in beer... cooked to a well seared, mesquite smoked exterior & pink interior... just oozing juices & a little bit of fat... that is what excites me... and which is rare to find in L.A.

      2. n
        nosh Apr 21, 2008 03:41 PM

        Best salsa roja (Bandini of The Great Taco Hunt called it a salsa negra) in the city is at Carnitas Michaocan, on North Broadway at 19th, above Chinatown. Thin, rust-colored, smoky, spicy, complex, hot -- fantastic. Their carne asada is very good, but I prefer their al pastor, which is actually cut from a rotisserie spit. Note: the salsa roja is homemade, and some of the other branches under the same Carnitas Michaocan name are not in the same ballpark as this one near Dodger Stadium.

        Based upon some of the posts on this board, I walked in and then out of both Tacomiendo on Gateway and Taco Plus on Bundy -- tacos were $2 at the former and $2.15 at the latter, and the ones I saw being served and eaten were far from giant. Burritos were about $6. Sorry, I don't play that... Tacos at Tacos Por Favor, last time I was there, had gone up to $1.85, but they are big enough so that two fills me up, and their salsa roja is the best I've found on the westside, with the possible exception of the salsa roja spiked with the explosive habanero salsa at El Super Taco.

        8 Replies
        1. re: nosh
          Eat_Nopal Apr 21, 2008 06:19 PM

          I grew up in Lincoln Heights... at one time I would have vouched for Carnitas Michoacan (in the mid to late 80's)... its a shadow of its former self... I definitely would not call their salsa or anything they make Best in L.A. I don't partake in several of Taco Bandini's assertions.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal
            a_and_w Apr 22, 2008 09:10 AM

            So...what's your choice for best carne asada and al pastor on the west side? Come on, Eat, you haven't led me wrong thus far!

            1. re: a_and_w
              Servorg Apr 22, 2008 09:52 AM

              Have you tried any of the all meat burritos at Gallegos in Mar Vista? I am partial to the barbacoa. Their hours have been expanded making it easier to get there (at least for me). Mon. - Fri. 8 AM to 7 PM and Sat. 7:30 AM to 4 PM (closed Sundays). Hand consumable.

              http://www.gallegosmexicandeli.com/id...

              1. re: Servorg
                a_and_w Apr 22, 2008 10:22 AM

                I've only tried the tamales at Gallegos, but I keep meaning to go back for that barbacoa burrito. I was under the impression, though, that the burritos are knife-and-fork affairs. Which are best suited for consumption by hand?

                1. re: a_and_w
                  Servorg Apr 22, 2008 10:29 AM

                  I only get the barbacoa, but as long as you don't get them topped with sauce I would think that you could eat any of them by hand. I have to give their carne asada a try one of these days.

                  One other thought, have you tried Gloria's Cafe on Venice Blvd. just about a mile or so east of the 405 on the north side of the street? I really like their food, especially some of their Salvadoran specialties, and I can imagine their burritos being good too (based on the quality of the other things I have eaten there).

              2. re: a_and_w
                Eat_Nopal Apr 22, 2008 09:56 AM

                Well... the truth is I have not found a single Carne Asada or Al Pastor in West L.A. that I would really recommend to any one. I do like Tacomiendo's Asada platter and the Adobada tacos (particularly if you garnish them with their awesome pickled onions)... but if you want honest versions of those dishes....

                > Carne Asada... praise worthy versions are few & far between in L.A's restaurants... a few I would vouch for... Gallo's Mexican Grill in East L.A.; La Parilla in East L.A... their quality Ebbs & Rises with the tides but I was there in the last year and it was comparable to their late 1980's heyday; Dino's Burgers in Lincoln Heights is churning out very palatable grilled Diezmillo... El Chamizal in Huntington Park.

                > Al Pastor... the best by FAR, and comparable to any Al Pastor in D.F. is the outdoor Spit on Central Ave... somewhere between Jeffersons & Adams (on the right side if you are facing Downtown).... I don't think you can miss it at night. The meat has crispy edges yet incredibly juicy, tender... it has that depth of seasoning that comes with using real garlic, fresh ground spices & pineapple vinegar... the tortillas are high quality for the price point... of course the disadvantage is that part of town is objectively dangerous at almost any time... only for hardcore Hounds!

                1. re: a_and_w
                  p
                  PaliBruin Apr 23, 2008 10:20 AM

                  Best carne asada and pastor in West L.A. is Don Felix. Centinela at Culver/ Washington.

                  1. re: PaliBruin
                    n
                    nosh Apr 23, 2008 11:30 AM

                    First, I read on this board recently that Don Felix may be closing or closed, so check before driving there. Second, no salsa bar. Finally, the most depressing order-thru-the-hole like a drug den atmosphere. I tried it after some praised it a couple years back, and it ranks with my worst taco experiences anywhere.

            2. e
              Ernie Apr 21, 2008 02:36 PM

              The carne asada burrito at Taco Village on East LA/Montebello border is tops. Excellent non-gristly carne asada with a proper char flavor, great fresh salsa bar, and frijoles de olla. They are my favorite place for carne asada in the greater LA area by far. They serve the burritos open-face so you can load them up the way you like, then hand it back to the cook to wrap up for you. I haven't tried their chips though but sure they are fine

              I used to like La Taquiza but on recent visits the al pastor and carne asada was tough, dry and reheated tasting and their salsa bar just OK

              1. Eat_Nopal Apr 21, 2008 02:04 PM

                I don't know about any one that thinks El Abajeno is beyond mediocre (unless they have dramatically improved in the last 2 years). I DO NOT in any way condone the consumption if mediocre, Mission style burritos... but if you must... Pepe's Tacos is a strong contender. The tomatillo-arbol salsa included in tacos & burritos is very good... imho they make THE most compelling Tomato-Jalapeno salsa I can remember (served with their excellent Chips).

                Of course... the Carne Asada at Pepe's is Faux (i.e,. chopped up, griddled chuck... instead of wood grilled Arrachera).

                13 Replies
                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                  w
                  Wolfgang Apr 21, 2008 03:32 PM

                  Sometimes I must. Where is Pepe's? I googled and came up with a West Adams and West L.A. location.

                  Thanks.

                  1. re: Wolfgang
                    Eat_Nopal Apr 21, 2008 06:17 PM

                    Centinela Ave., just north of Culver Blvd.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                      n
                      noshie Apr 21, 2008 07:21 PM

                      I personally love the burritos in SF Mission district, Tacqueria El Toro, El Faralito, etc. El Abajeno's carne asada burrito is huge, has guac and carrots on the side and homey tasty chips, good salsa bar too. Their carnitas rolled into corn tortillas (flautas? roll tacos? taquitos)? I forget the name) are great too. The lengua burrito is not too shabby either.

                      El Parian had great carne asada, but for me salsa and chips are really needed when you open lengthwise cut open the burrito and dig on in. They didn't have jamaica either, which goes well with a carne asada burrito (although they had fruit drinks, I like jamaica on the sour side with my burrito).

                      So I will try Tacos Plus (if I can find parking) as a supplement to El Abajeno and Juquila's cecina and nopales burritos for westside, this Taco Village below sounds good too

                      1. re: noshie
                        Eat_Nopal Apr 22, 2008 08:15 AM

                        "Juquila's cecina and nopales burritos for westside"

                        I am listening. (I will forgive your other atrocities for this nice find)

                        1. re: noshie
                          a_and_w Apr 22, 2008 09:09 AM

                          Check out Monte Alban, which has better cecina, imo. Can't vouch for the nopales...

                    2. re: Eat_Nopal
                      a_and_w Apr 22, 2008 09:08 AM

                      LOL! There is NOTHING mediocre about Mission style burritos, but I will give Pepe's a shot. Just to clarify, can you eat them with your hands?

                      1. re: a_and_w
                        n
                        noshie Apr 22, 2008 08:07 PM

                        Monte Alban has a nice appetizer cold nopales, tomato and onion salad, lots of still springy pieces of nopales in it last time I was there (although I like both Juquila and El Texate better for Oaxacan). They'll put nopales in the burritos at El Texate too (not on the menu at either Juquila or El Texate, but its never been a problem adding it).

                        1. re: noshie
                          a_and_w Apr 23, 2008 07:47 AM

                          I disagree with the rec of Juquila over Monte Alban. I live a short distance from both and much prefer the latter for Oaxacan food. In fact, Juquila was my first experience with the cuisine and left me thinking I might not like it. Now, however, I'm a huge fan.

                      2. re: Eat_Nopal
                        i
                        Iateitup Apr 23, 2008 08:08 AM

                        So where can I go in LA to try a wood grilled arrachera carne asada? Is that what el parian has? thanks-

                        1. re: Iateitup
                          Eat_Nopal Apr 23, 2008 08:36 AM

                          I haven't been to El Parian but the prolific Kare_Raisu, whose palette I trust, really digs it. Gallo's Mexican grill does their Arrachera over almond & mesquite wood.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                            s
                            sel Jun 3, 2008 10:57 AM

                            Isn't Gallo's Mexican Grill still closed? The place on Caesar Chavez just east of Ford?

                        2. re: Eat_Nopal
                          a_and_w Jun 3, 2008 10:16 AM

                          Tried Pepe's the other day. The food was OK, but the burrito did not remotely resemble Mission style. Mine was a knife and fork affair with two tortillas and the size of a small nerf football. The asada was good, but I've had better at Tacomiendo, Taco Plus, and Eduardo's. The real star was the tomatillo-arbol salsa Eat mentioned -- that stuff was incredible. Unfortunately, the chips tasted store bought to me.

                          1. re: a_and_w
                            Eat_Nopal Jun 3, 2008 01:08 PM

                            Two tortillas? Store bought chips? That doesn't sound right... was the nice 50 something lady there, or Pepe (50 something billingual male)... they are the proprietors but have been bringing in some younger relatives as they go into semi-retirement.... bummer if it has gone down hill.

                        3. e
                          estone888 Apr 21, 2008 10:16 AM

                          I'm very fond of the carne asada and the salsas at La Taquiza, 3026 S Figueroa St, down near USC. They also have excellent al pastor.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: estone888
                            blackbookali Apr 21, 2008 12:57 PM

                            La Taquiza was the first great LA joint I experienced and the more i search, the more I realize that it has no equal . . . . best huevos con chorizo plate I have ever had.

                          2. a_and_w Apr 21, 2008 10:07 AM

                            I would try the taco combination plates before writing off Tacomiendo. I didn't appreciate the quality of the meat, which is well marinated with nice crisp edges, until I did. However, the best carne asada I've had thus far in west LA is at Taco Plus on Bundy. I like the burrito gigante ordered without lettuce.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: a_and_w
                              v
                              vinosnob Apr 21, 2008 01:48 PM

                              I haven't had a burrito at Taco Plus, but I always get the carne asada tacos which are definitely good, but not my favorite.

                              However, and aandw suggested this place to me a while back, my favorite (in west la) is the "original" carne asada burrito at Eduardo's Border Grill on Westwood; solid salsa bar as well.

                              1. re: vinosnob
                                a_and_w Apr 22, 2008 09:06 AM

                                Love Eduardo's, especially for the chicken. But the asada is actually too juicy, which causes the burritos to fall apart. I love the slightly crispy edges to Taco Plus's carne asada.

                                1. re: a_and_w
                                  v
                                  vinosnob Apr 22, 2008 11:02 AM

                                  Really? I ask for the asada "well done" and haven't had a burrito breakdown as you describe. The shrimp (NO rice) does get messy though...

                                  1. re: vinosnob
                                    a_and_w Apr 23, 2008 08:12 AM

                                    Hmmm..it never occurred to me to ask for the asada well done. I'll give it a shot, because the quality of the meat at Eduardo's is excellent. Thanks for the tip!

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