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Lamb and Pork Goodness! :) - El Huarache Azteca [Review] w/ Pics!

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exilekiss Aug 31, 2008 11:05 PM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/08...)

I still remember the day I read Jonathan Gold's "Nueva York" article, talking about the various Mexican eateries along York Boulevard. On that day, I grabbed a Taco Hound to accompany me in search of the amazing Al Pastor Tacos that Mr. Gold mentioned, and to sample something from one or two of the other eateries mentioned in his article. After grabbing a Taco from El Pique (a story for another day :), I realized there was one restaurant just a block away that I remembered from that article. I walked in and noticed they had Carne Adobada (a Mexican-style Marinated Pork). The restaurant was El Huarache Azteca, and from that day on, it became one of my regular standbys whenever I happened to be in the area.

The name of this restaurant hints at its most famous dish: The Huarache (Spanish for "sandal") is a long "sandal-shaped" fried Masa topped with your choice of meat. They make their Huarache to order, fresh, even having a dedicated kitchen station setup outside with someone constantly making them as the orders flow in.

Whenever I've visited the restaurant, I've never been able to pry myself away from ordering the Carne Adobada (my current favorite incarnation of this dish in L.A.), but on my latest visit today, I decided to try another dish which prompted me to finally write about it all. :) There are basically three items on the menu at El Huarache Azteca that really stand out for me: Their Pork Adobada, the Huarache, and today's amazing dish, Barbacoa de Borrego (Lamb Barbacoa).

Firstly, their namesake, the Huarache has always been consistently good. As aforementioned, it arrives on a bed of fried Masa (Cornmeal dough), with your choice of meat (ranging from Chicken to Lengua (Beef Tongue) and many others that are standard at authentic Mexican eateries around L.A.). I usually order the Huarache Adobada (Huarache with "Marinated Pork" as it's listed on their menu), which is topped with some Onions, Cilantro, Cotija Cheese, and Mexican Sour Cream. It sounds simple, but the freshness of the fried Masa and the goodness of the Pork Adobada, the Cotija Cheese and other ingredients never fails to put a smile on my face! (^_^) Delicious.

But the #1 reason for my continued patronage at El Huarache Azteca would have to be their Carne Adobada Taco. Ever since the short-lived (but oh so good!) Taqueria De Catedral closed down years ago, I had given up on finding a good version of Carne Adobada as repeated visits to random places always ended in disappointment. But El Huarache Azteca's version comes very close to the greatness of my old favorite. Their Carne Adobada is wonderfully smoky, marinated chunks of Pork that's just screaming with flavor! The hints of Chile Powder, the slight tang from the Vinegar, the Oregano, and also a slight sweetness... it all adds up to a wonderful Adobada Taco that I prefer even over my favorite Al Pastor Tacos around L.A.!

On today's visit, they had one of the best Aguas Frescas (literally "Fresh Waters") I've had in the last few months: Agua De Pepino, a refreshing cold drink of Cucumber, Pineapple and Lime with Water. So simple and so delicious.

But the new dish I finally tried today was their Weekend Special, the Barbacoa De Borrego (Lightly Marinated Steamed Lamb) served with Consomme De Borrego (Lamb Consomme) and Fresh Corn Tortillas. (Note this is served only on Saturday and Sunday.)

While visually pedestrian, nothing could be further from the truth regarding its taste: Imagine lightly marinated Lamb steamed to the point that it's *completely* fall-off-the-bone tender, and when eaten with a bit of the Lamb Consomme that comes with the dish, it's nothing short of wonderful! This is rustic, hearty food, but it's so good! (^_^) There's a self-serve station with 3-4 different types of fresh Salsas, Onions, Cilantro, Lemon, Turnip Slices, etc., so you can adjust it to your liking. I haven't had Barbacoa in Mexico yet, so I'll leave it up to Dommy!, Eat Nopal and the rest of the experts to comment on how it compares, but on its own, it's hearty and tasty. :)

El Huarache Azteca is a very simple mom-and-pop-type establishment. You place your order and find a table and wait for the food. The service has been just fine for this type of eatery every time I've gone, and really you're there for the food, only. (^_~) Their Tacos are $1.25 each, and the fresh-made Huaraches are $2.50 each. We usually average about ~$6 per person total(!), and even for today's Lamb feast, it came out to be ~$7 per person total, which is a bargain.

El Huarache Azteca isn't a "destination restaurant," but they deliver consistently good Huaraches, and some of the tastiest Pork Adobada I've had around L.A. Add to that their ever-changing selection of fresh fruit beverages (Aguas Frescas), and the amazing Barbacoa De Borrego (Lamb Barbacoa) at very fair prices, and you have one of the great neighborhood Mexican eateries that's worth a visit if you're in the area. :)

*** Rating: 8.0 (out of 10.0) ***

El Huarache Azteca
5225 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Tel: (323) 478-9572

* Cash Only *

Hours: 7 Days A Week, 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.

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El Huarache Azteca
5225 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

 
 
 
 
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  1. Thi N. RE: exilekiss Sep 2, 2008 07:05 AM

    I haven't been here yet (I will, based on this review) - but have you had the beloved huarache at the Gorditas Lupita truck, and if so, how do they compare?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Thi N.
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      exilekiss RE: Thi N. Sep 2, 2008 08:44 AM

      Hi Thi,

      Sadly, I haven't tried the Gorditas Lupita truck (yet)! :( But I will definitely add it to my list, the next time I'm in the area. Thanks for the reminder. :)

      1. re: Thi N.
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        fkingford RE: Thi N. Sep 6, 2008 06:00 PM

        Hi, Thi N.,

        Where can one find this Gordita Lupita truck if you please?

      2. d
        Diana RE: exilekiss Sep 2, 2008 09:01 AM

        Yum. That lamb looks great!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Diana
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          exilekiss RE: Diana Sep 2, 2008 02:31 PM

          Yah, for simple, rustic Lamb goodness (and a great price), it can't be beat. :)

        2. b
          bechamelmacho RE: exilekiss Sep 2, 2008 03:43 PM

          Exilekiss-
          As always, I enjoyed your reportage. El Huarache is a definite go-to spot if you find yourself in the Highland park area. Very tasty Mexican street food and dirt-cheap to boot. I always enjoy their huaraches, and I must sample the adobada the next time I go there. However, while El Huarache's barbacoa is nice, homey and filling, the place to beat for borrego (lamb) is still My Taco just down the street, past Figueroa. Their
          barbacoa (with goat consomme by the way) is delicious. Adding the special borrego
          salsa they prepare is uber-lamby perfection for me. I can't get enough of the stuff. Yow!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bechamelmacho
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            exilekiss RE: bechamelmacho Sep 2, 2008 08:52 PM

            Hi bechamelmacho,

            Thanks. (^_^) Good to know you enjoy it as well.

            And thanks for the info on My Taco, I'm always looking for some great Barbacoa de Chivo! I'll have to try that the next time I'm in the area (along w/ Thi's suggestion! :).

          2. OCAnn RE: exilekiss Sep 2, 2008 04:44 PM

            Nice report as usual! Have you thought about sorting your reviews by rating (on your blogspot)? hint, hint. =)

            1 Reply
            1. re: OCAnn
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              exilekiss RE: OCAnn Sep 2, 2008 08:54 PM

              Hi OCAnn,

              Thank you. :) Sorting my reviews by rating... I'm not that good with HTML and stuff (I know how to manually copy&paste links and make up a page of reviews that way... I'll investigate. Thanks! :)

            2. d
              deliciouscoma RE: exilekiss Sep 4, 2008 05:01 PM

              I'm also a fan of the huarache adobada, but I definitely need to return and try the lamb. Also, the agua de pepino sounds amazing -- do you know if they rotate their aguas frescas offerings or is that one always on the menu?

              1 Reply
              1. re: deliciouscoma
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                exilekiss RE: deliciouscoma Sep 5, 2008 12:58 AM

                Hi deliciouscoma,

                Definitely return and try their Lamb. It's cheap and delicious! (^_^)

                The very first time I went to El Huarache Azteca, I didn't see the Agua de Pepino, but it was there on my last visit. So I'm guessing they rotate their Aguas at least occasionally. Enjoy~

              2. streetgourmetla RE: exilekiss Sep 4, 2008 06:33 PM

                Hey Exilekiss,
                I really dig the huaraches here and stopped by the other night for a huarache with suadero, excellent. Just because I felt the urge, I ordered 2 tacos de tripas(tripe) and was very surprized.I love tripas, which many fail to make with any real flavor, but these tacos were beautiful.

                I'm glad to know you are a fellow huarachudo!Felicidades!

                You might try Breed St. on a Saturday or Sunday night at Nina's stand for hauraches, sopes, gorditas,quesadillas preparadas,and pambazos. If you like Huarache Azteca, you would also appreciate the Breed St. stands.

                2 Replies
                1. re: streetgourmetla
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                  exilekiss RE: streetgourmetla Sep 5, 2008 12:59 AM

                  Hi streetgourmetla,

                  Thanks for the recommendations! :) Do you have an exact address for Nina's stand on Breed Street? (Or the closest cross street?) Also, do you know how late Nina's opens till?

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: exilekiss
                    streetgourmetla RE: exilekiss Sep 8, 2008 12:25 PM

                    Nina's is on Breed St. just North of Cesar Chavez next to the Big Buy Foods parking lot.Best to go on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 7PM.I've always gone on Sundays.Last time I was there they asked me to sign a petition because they were getting harrassed due to the horrible taco truck law, which has since been struck down, so I imagine things are back to normal over there.If I can I will run by this weekend to check up.

                    Here is an older post:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/443018

                2. David Kahn RE: exilekiss Sep 5, 2008 01:43 PM

                  Thanks for the great review. On your recommendation, I tried this place for lunch today, and it was delicious!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: David Kahn
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                    exilekiss RE: David Kahn Sep 5, 2008 11:07 PM

                    Hi David,

                    Glad to hear you enjoyed your lunch there. :) Did you get to try any of the Aguas Frescas drinks? Just curious what flavors they had today.

                  2. j
                    jotfoodie RE: exilekiss Sep 6, 2008 04:24 PM

                    Hi exile,

                    As usual, muchas gracias for another great find. My wife and I went today, we went primarily for the Barbacoa De Borrego (7,99), it certainly did not disappoint. The aroma was just right, the lamb consomme that came with it was so tasty and a good complement. We also tried the the Huarache with Adobada, and we both enjoyed it. I really want more of the Barbacoa De Borrego, so I ordered another one to go. The waiters were very helpful and pleasant. We live 30 miles away and I have to say it was worth the trip and a good start for the weekend.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jotfoodie
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                      exilekiss RE: jotfoodie Sep 6, 2008 11:41 PM

                      Hi jotfoodie,

                      Thanks, and great to hear you enjoyed your visit! :)

                    2. Thi N. RE: exilekiss Oct 28, 2008 11:05 AM

                      Good place. Thoughts:

                      Huarache shells are quite good - not quite the fresh, succulent wonder of Gorditas Lupitas, but good.

                      Pork adobada is damn good (meat quality is the weakness for gorditas lupitas.) Particularly good with the dark, adobe-y sauce, and particularly good in a concentrated, taco form. Asada boring, chicharrones are stewed and pleasant, cabeza was good, and lengua was excellent. *Excellent*. High in flavor, low in rank, a taco-full of awesome. Sadly, they were out of tripas.

                      Barbacoa de borrega was *brilliant* - by far my favorite thing there. Totally intense, succulent, and concentrated.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Thi N.
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                        exilekiss RE: Thi N. Oct 28, 2008 11:35 PM

                        Hi Thi,

                        Thanks for the report back! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. I *love* their Pork Adobada, and their Barbacoa was a surprise. Thanks for the thoughts on their Lengua; I've yet to try it there, but now I will the next time I'm in the area. :)

                        1. re: Thi N.
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                          Norm Man RE: Thi N. Oct 29, 2008 02:19 PM

                          Thi N, where is the Gorditas Lupitas truck located?

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