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SFV alert-Regional Mexican in No.Hollywood

I happened upon Don Huarache the other day heading towards home on Burbank Bl. when I saw the grand opening sign and "estilo D.F." ad.I walked in and talked with the chef, a recent arrival from just outside D.F.,to discover that we now have the first serious Mexican food restaurant in the Valley.Homemade chicharron prensado!!!!! That's right.

Don Huarache makes sopes, quesadillas preparadas(real quesadillas),and huaraches estilo D.F.(their specialty) to order with tinga de pollo(spicy chicken), tinga de res(spicy beef), chicharron prensado(pressed chicharron),hongos(mushrooms),picadillo,chorizo, queso y frijol(cheese and bean), and asada.Pambazos, tortas Mexicanas, tortas Cubanas,tacos, and cemitas.They have comida corrida(complete meals with rice, soup,agua fresca,tortillas,and a dessert.Don Huarache makes alambres and has an al a carte menu of classic dishes like bistec encebollado and camarones a la diabla.Breakfasts of real huevo ranchero and other egg classics are $4.25 a plate.On the weekends barbacoa de borrego with salsa borracha and homemade menudo.All of this wonderful food crafted by the gentleman from D.F. from scratch including the chicharron prensado(parts, fat, and chicharrones all pressed together), something I haven't even come across in East LA.

Don Huarache look as though it started out as a Starbuck's or the like, and made a left turn and plastered hand written menus all over the walls, as if to say, yeah, enough of this fresa %$#@, this is street food, man!But, they do serve expresso,coffee, and cappuccino and have some nice machines to deliver this service.How about a sundae?They do that too.An Icee?Right here.

I stopped today for a sope of chicharron prensado and another of tinga de res.The chicharron prensado was unreal, so balanced in flavor and just blended beautifully with the crema, lettuce, beans, and cheese.The tinga was spicy and oozing with complex tastes.I'm officially blown away.The agua de tamarindo was fresh and authentic, for a change.No instant powdered nonsense.

SFV Mexican food lover rejoice, we now have a true destination for authentic Mexican.Real food made by a chilango that aims for quality and sabor.Joana, a nice Guatemalteca was working today, made my sopes, but she assured me that "el morenito es el cocinero que cocina toda!"These people care about their food and know how to treat their customers.Next, the menudo, the barbacoa, and huevo ranchero that uses ranchero sauce, not the house salsa.Hooray!

Grand Opening
Menudo and expresso
Sopes estilo D.F.
Sope de chicharron prensado

Don Huarache
10719 Burbank Bl.(just east of Vineland
)North Hollywood,CA
Mon-Thurs 8-9
Friday-saturday 8-10
Sunday 9-6

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  1. Nice report. By "quesadillas preparadas(real quesadillas)" do you mean raw masa pressed out, filled, folded over into a sealed semi circle, then deep fried? Them's not that easy to find.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Professor Salt

      That's correct professor.Prepared with raw masa.They can be fried or cooked on a flat iron(a la plancha).I usually go to Breed St. on the weekends for this treat, but here it is, walking distance from my pad.I had my sopes today al la plancha, but I think they probably have a deep fryer handy, and could fry them.I will check soon, probably tomorrow.

    2. You are un-freaking-stoppable cabron! The handwritten menus are classic naco! Go on the weekend and report back on the borrego and menudo!

      2 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu

        How about the Westfield Shopping Town tables, bought at swap meet?Nacissimo!

        Love it!!

      2. Went back today for huevo ranchero on my way out of town, and yes, it's a real ranchera sauce, not eggs with salsa.Had a taste of the barbacoa too, which was excellent.Authentic, delicious, and traditional huevo ranchero!!!!

        1. Well, is anybody getting this?The best Mexican restaurant in the San Fernando Valley has just upped the stakes.I finally did the obvious and had the huarache, which is the restaurants specialty.It was more like a snowshoe, gigantic!Well, I've had Haurache Azteca's huarache, and my favorite on Breed St., Nina's huarache with all her classic toppings, but Don Huarache reigns supreme.I haven't seen these type of huarache since my recent visits to D.F. and Guadalajara, in respect to their size and construction.And the flavor, a smear of stand alone refried black beans, cheese, grilled onions, the rare chicharron prensado,topped with grilled nopal, and garnished with lime and slices of radish, the chicharron prensado oozing its transcendent flavors onto the masa.

          Last night I was there with a friend who ordered the cemita poblana, which looked great although I was too distracted by my huarache to taste his cemita.The huarache is $5.50 and can easily be shared by 2 people.I took the leftover half home for my lunch today.

          This is the best huarache in Los Angeles.No me dudas! Intentalo! Where are my Valley MexHounds?Would love to hear your thoughts on this amazing restaurant right here in our own backyard.

          huarache de Don Huarache
          This is your huarache on crack!Any questions?

          1 Reply
          1. re: streetgourmetla

            I'm getting it...can't wait to try this place next week. I love sopes.

          2. I stopped by there this afternoon. I wanted to try a variety of things, so I got a cemita de asada, a quesadilla, and a taco al pastor. Yes I was hungry.

            The cemita was very good. I hadn't eaten one before, so I really don't have anything to compare it to. To be honest I hadn't even heard of them until an episode of Diners Drive Ins and Dives. The asada was tasty; it also had cheese, avocado slices, sliced onions, and what I think was some chipotle pepper in a sauce. Very unusual flavors. Will definitely get one again.

            The quesadilla was clearly not with a tortilla. The masa was oblong shaped, thicker and a bit grainier than a corn tortilla. Not deep fried, which is fine. It was also very good, although I prefer a greasier cheese on my quesadillas. Just a personal thing.

            The taco al pastor was a disappointment, imo. The meat was dry, although flavorful. I still think the al pastor at El Jerezano is the one to beat.

            I've never been to DF, so I'm not qualified to make any comments as to the authenticity of the style of food. It was very good, and it's definitely on my list of places to go to. For me though, there are other Mexican places that I like better.

            3 Replies
            1. re: fjrsean

              fjrsean, thanks for reporting back.Wow, where to begin?Well, for starters I'm in a fabulous mood, just had a quesadilla de huitlacoche at Nina's in BH, and a taco arroz con huevo,guiso de chicharron, and chorizo.And, I'm glad you liked the place over all.

              You did extremely well for your first cemita, you're starting at the top, as far as what's available here in LA.What you described is a definitive cemita, chipotle, quesillo, aguacate, cebolla, you just missed the classic version with a milanesa.Try that next time, asada isn't the most interesting expression of the cemita.

              The quesadilla was clearly not a tortilla?..............................that's good.What you described is an American version of a quesadilla widely available at places like El Torito, Jerry's Deli, Denny's,taco Bell, El Coyote, and the room service menu at the Holiday Inn.It's kind of like saying that Domino's deep dish Chicago style was alot better than Gino's East.But, that's not anyone's fault, real quesadillas are not served in Mexican-American restaurants, or Denny's.The quesadilla you had from DH is the real deal, like it or not.It's what you would find in Mexico City, or Guadalajara,etc.The Mexican quesadilla is made with raw masa, oblong, and cooked on a comal or fried.The fillings are the bas eof the flavor, and the Mexican cheese you had is typical.They will not put Monterrey Jack on your quesadilla if you ask for it in Mexico.Your personal thing is Mexican American in respect to quesadillas, but please, give them a chance and you may abandon the insipid American comfort version to the more profound flavors of a quesadilla preparada.

              I wouldn't go to DH for tacos either, but what you said made a lot of sense.Great flavor, but dry.Great flavor because the cook is chingon and makes his marinade from scratch, dry, because he doesn't have a spit to slow roast.The tacos, burritos, and fajitas here are about making money for the non-adventuous customer, and you don't need to order these items.

              You want the huarache, which will do you just fine the next time you're hungry.Have the sopes, and get used to the quesadillas, have the huevos rancheros, no they won't be covered in salsa, gloppy cheese, nor sour cream and an olive.They will have ranchera sauce.Try the pambazo, and have some more cemitas since you are already up to speed there.Oh, and two words, chicharron prensado.Weekends, menudo and barbacoa de borrego.

              And, perhaps a brief prohibition from gloppy cheese Mex-American joints to cleanse.I do hope you understand here that I'm just trying to help a fellow hound:)

              There is no better Mexican restaurant serving authentic Mexican in the SFV, period.There is no better authentic huarache in LA.The chef is a recent arrival from D.F., a chilango.What more could you ask for?And, I say without hesitation that his flavor and technique are truly authentic.

              Keep comin' please, I would love to see this gem around for a while, for purely selfish reasons.Anyways, I do appreciate your honest review and feedback on this spot.

              1. re: streetgourmetla

                Let me clarify my "clearly not a tortilla" comment: It didn't look like the packaged tortillas that I buy at Vallarta. I've eaten at Gino's East, so I get the analogy. :) As far as eating "Mexican American" food, what can I say, I'm a gabacho :) but I'm always open to trying new styles, otherwise I wouldn't have gone there in the first place. Oh, and the Westfield tables was classic.

                As an aside, it reminds me of the first time I ate at a Mexican restaurant in Mexico. I remember thinking, "this isn't what I'm used to" LOL

                Again, I never said it wasn't authentic. The place is definitely on my rotation, and next time I'll get the cemita milanesa. I honestly can't stand pork rinds though, so I'll be passing on the chicharron prensado.

                1. re: fjrsean

                  Cool,fjrsean.Yes the Westfield tables kill me.You'd be surprized by chicharron prensado, it's nothing like pork rinds.

            2. Hi streetgourmetla,

              Great review. :) Wow, it's better than Nina's for Huaraches? I'll have to give this a try; the pics look delicious. Thanks. :)

              1. I went at lunchtime on Saturday. streetgourmetla did not exaggerate -- this place is excellent, and it's amazing to have it in the SFV. I had the huevos rancheros and my partner had the huarache de bistec. Both were great, just as sgla described. The frijoles had a deep, almost smokey flavor that made them totally addictive. We were particularly enamored with the aguas frescas: the horchata is the best I've ever had and my partner loved the agua de jamaica. I'd go back for these alone!

                One minor disappointment is that the tortillas are not homemade; otherwise these would rank with the best huevos rancheros I've ever had. But . . . I'm not complaining!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Peripatetic

                  You've hit the nail on the head perpatetic! Yeah, I'd definitely like homemade tortillas, and there are a few other little things like maybe getting some flor de calabaza and huitlacoche.I'd also like to see the burritos, and fajitas stricken from the menu.They invite a creative killing element.But, Don Huarache is an island surrounded by a sea of lame burrito, combo plate, boring Mexican-American, and trite tacos varios restaurants.If we keep ordering the right stuff, Don Huarache can move more in the direction it would like.And yes, you are correct again, the huevos rancheros are out of this world and a gift to us huevo ranchero fiends.Y las aguas!!!

                  Excellent report, and thanks for checkin' it out.

                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                    > thanks for checkin' it out.

                    Thank _you_ for telling CH about this place.

                    This raises an interesting question: what restaurants/stands/taco trucks in the LA area have good homemade tortillas? The only ones I've come across so far were at La Casita Mexicana and Babita. I haven't tried Monte Alban or La Huasteca yet, nor any of the trucks that reportedly have them.

                    1. re: Peripatetic

                      Oooohhh.Moles La Tia in ELA, just went there tonight.Made from scratch, the best tortillas I've had in LA.I would sit there and eat a whole dozen of them if I didn't have to save room for the incredible moles and traditional plates.

                      1. re: Peripatetic

                        Pico Pica Rico in Sherman Oaks (on Magnolia, just east of Kester) makes all of its own tortillas, including for tacos, huaraches, and sopes.

                        Tacos la Fonda, which parks nightly in a carwash lot at Vineland and Vanowen, makes homemade tortillas for tacos and fried quesadillas. Their tacos are among the best in the Valley.

                  2. Oustanding find! Have been three times with my husband who grew up in DF (I'm a pure gringa) and we have loved it every time. His favorite since he was a child is a greasy but yummy item called Pambazo. Think Torta bread laden with flavorful and drippy chorizo. I love the quesadillas and the huaraches for all the reasons that have been noted. Freshness. Delicious flavors. And the chicharron prensado sounded scary to me, too, but is moist and delicious. And I totally agree that you should order to their strengths and pass on the tacos and burritos. The aguas are very good as well.
                    This is a great spot.

                    1. And the Barbacoa (roasted lamb) on the weekends is very delicious.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: maggielyn

                        Finally, a barbacoa report! Thank you so much.Pambazos are my favorite in the land of tortas, cemitas, etc., they are so amazingly delicious.Again, I'm glad to hear someone had the barbacoa, and now I'm even more eager to get over on the weekend.

                      2. Anyone know if this place is closed?
                        I have driven by several times with the intention of tasting Don Huarache's reputedly delicious wares. Alas, every time I pass by, the place is dark and definitely not open.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: bodie

                          I believe they've scaled back their hours and are closing around 6PM.I'm going to stop by tomorrow and get the scoop.

                          1. re: bodie

                            Mon-Fri 9-4
                            Sat-Sun 8-6

                            New hours for Don Huarache.I guess it was kind of slow in the evenings, but they're hangin' in there.Wasn't the best timing to be starting a new restaurant in this economy.Had some huevos rancheros yesterday, delicious.

                            1. re: streetgourmetla

                              Street, I just wanted to post to thank you for unearthing this gem of a place.

                              Based on your initial review, my wife and I went about a month ago and had a thoroughly awesome meal for about $15 for the two of us. I had the Huarache con Bistec and my wife enjoyed their Quesadilla -- both were scrumptious.

                              I do remember thinking that, at 8pm on a Saturday night, they seemed like they might need to trim back their hours. We were the only people who came in, and it seemed like that was about par for the course.

                              Here's hoping they can survive, and I'm looking forward to my return visit soon.

                              1. re: a213b

                                Depage and a213b, glad you are both diggin' the place.I had a sope de tinga today for lunch.This is a neighborhood joint for me, so I'm doing everything I can by eating there each week and encouraging friends to try it, once they've been to Don Huarache they're hooked.Us locals got to support the few great places we have.

                                I think they're doing barbacoa de borrego for catering, which is helping out.

                          2. The house I made an offer on is right near there...I hope they stay open! It will be my go-to Mexican place

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Depage

                              Does it make chow-sense to order the huaraches or quesadillas mid-day to eat at dinner? Will they hold up for a few hours? Or would I be losing something vital by waiting?

                              1. re: rudy buci

                                Hi rudy buci,

                                I don't think Huaraches or Quesadillas hold up well waiting from Lunch until Dinner before eating. The Huaraches will turn soggy and easily fall apart. If possible try sampling it fresh.

                            2. Just wanted to add my thanks to Street Gourmet LA for finding this place. The from scratch cooking being put out at this place is delicious. They are serving the best huaraches I have ever had.

                              Pics of my trip to Don Huarache here: http://nochoiceatall.blogspot.com/200...

                              1. Finally had a chance to check this place out, and was pleasantly impressed. I had the Huarache con Bistek and a quesadilla con chicharron prensado and washed it down with a Tamarindo.

                                The Huarache was very good - I don't have too much experience to compare it to except Sabor a Mexico which I had really like their Huaraches, but then they moved and I haven't been since. The steak was tender, beefy and juicy. I was very impressed with the meat quality. I could've used some more tomatillo sauce on it, but that may just be me b/c I love that stuff (SaM used to put alot on theirs). But it was ok, b/c their salsa verde was GREAT!!! Matches my favorite salsa verde from a Taqueria in the Bay.

                                I went in thinking the quesadillas were going to be the fried kind like at SaM (which I also really liked), but they were the masa shaped tortillas griddled (?) and folded over. It was still pretty good. My first time having chicharron prensado, and I love pretty much all pork and it was good, but I don't know if I would choose it over a solid al pastor.

                                Overall a very good spot, and though I don't live close, I'll try and get back soon. I want to try their sopes to see how they compare to the sopes I had on Breed St (I believe Nina's, but there wasn't a name), which were heavenly. Oh and the Tamarindo as mentioned was made fresh and delicious!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mdpilam

                                  mdpilam.Nina's on Breed St and Don Huarache are two fantastic places to go for D.F. style street food.For huaraches there is no question, Don Huarache is perhaps the best around.The huaraches at Nina's are just slightly bigger sopes.

                                  For sopes, Nina's has excellent huitlacoche and flor de calabaza, DH doesn't.I like the tingas at DH better though.The chicharron prensado at DH is delicious, I don't think Nina's has it.The sopes at Nina's can be griddled or deep fried, oooh, deep fried.DH are only griddled.More healthy, but I gotta go with the deep fried. Different guisados, but I'm very happy with the sopes at both places.

                                  Nina's has gorditas and quesadillas preparadas(prepared quesadillas with the filling enclosed)that are fried, DH's are griddled, love them, but I have to give it to Nina's here.

                                  Both have superb salsas, Nina's just has more, and the rare salsa de semillas(pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, and arbol chiles), a dry salsa.

                                  DH has killer cemitas and tortas as well as pambazos.Nina's only has pambazos, but theirs are mind blowing.I have dreams about Nina's pambazos(chorizo and potato stuffed roll dipped in guajillo chile sauce)It's a tie, but since I'm a pambazo addict, Nina's for me.

                                  I go to Nina's for pambazos, quesadillas preparadas, and gorditas; for huaraches it has to be Don Huarache.For huevos rancheros, DH has also stolen my heart.It's great that we have both of these places.Let me know about your sope quest.

                                2. I went yesterday and had the Huarache with chicharron prensado and a chorizo quezadilla (the way "they" spelled it -with a " z").
                                  The chicharron wasn't what I thought it would be, I went in thinking it might be the stewed, gelatinous version found at Azteca Huarache on York St. but this was a nice crumble of pork, not crispy, not gummy but sort of the consistency of a well cooked chorizo.
                                  I really loved the balance of pork to huarache neither one overpowering but blending perfect with the onions and cactus.
                                  The quezadilla with chorizo was different and wonderful. So what if it's not like gringo quesadillas ? This was made fresh with excellent ingredients ! What's not to like ?
                                  Am going back soon to try Sopes and Cemitas and Pambazos, huitlacoche and Barbacoa
                                  ( can you tell I liked it ? )
                                  5 minutes from my house is a real challenge to not eat there every freakin' day !!

                                  1. Making the taco truck rounds this past Friday night, I remembered I had yet to try Nina's sopes so I drove to Breed St north of Chavez and didn't see anything resembling what I'd imagined her operation to look like--only a large group of people in the parking lot on the right and a mariscos truck. It looked pretty sketchy, too. Is this the spot? Is she only out on certain days? Any info would be great. Thanks.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: tchad

                                      Everything has moved across from the Big Buy Foods parking lot.Nina's is now in the parking lot, I always end up there on Sundays and it hasn't been that long since I stopped by and all was good.Nina's has a long table for salsa, guisados and prep, and a street deep fryer run by a very efficient guy.Things start up after 7PM on Sundays.The mariscos truck comes earlier and leaves earlier.I've never had any problems here, occasionally a stand might be absent due to illness, but there is always Nina's and many other options.It's just not a place with regular business hours, that's part of the beauty and adventure of street food.I will be there soon I'm sure to check it out, but give Sunday a try.

                                      1. re: streetgourmetla

                                        Thanks for the info. I'll try it this Sunday. And a big thanks for recommending Don Huarache. That chicarron prensado is fantastic stuff and the tamarindo is excellent. Also, the flan has a very good texture, which in my opinion is rare, but lacks a deep caramel and enough sugar in the custard.

                                    2. Don Huarache has closed. I confirmed this the other day.