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Dec 18, 2008 12:21 AM


hi everyone.

simple question: where is the best carne asada in LA / southern california?

in the spirit of eat_nopal, i would like to set some parameters on what is and isn't carne asada.

- anything that ever sees a griddle, skillet or saute pan. that is not carne asada. that is carne guisada. (note: that disqualifies about 99.9% of the "carne asada" served at restaurants and trucks)
- carne that is cooked before you ever order it.
- carne that is served to you on a cast iron fajita skillet

- grill (wood or coal preferred) ONLY.
- made when you order it
- has little charred bits on the ends
- must look exactly like little strips of grilled steak (because that's exactly what it is).

so, where's the good stuff at?

the only place in LA i've been to that has good carne asada is El Parian on pico near union.
every other place/truck i've been to serves carne guisada.
but there has to be more than just el parian out there, right? right?

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  1. Hello ceviche, an excellent topic.I will add to your what is not carne asada to include 100% of what's available in socal restaurants.

    The other element of paramount importance is the cut of meat, quality, and origin. The best carne asada in Mexico is in the state of Sonora, and other northern cattle industry states of Mexico:Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa.

    In TJ, the best carne asada in restaurants and carretas are Sonoran beef,using the cuts NY steak, or arrachera(different from the poor ranchera steak).Cabreria is also a cut used in Sinaloa, Sonora, and Baja California Norte.For stands to remain economical they use blends of New York, palomilla, and other cuts.Again, the best steak in Mexico City restaurants come from Sonora or other northern states.

    To replicate this here in LA a stand would have to use USDA prime New York steak, and blend it with palomilla, and another cut, all prime.Can't be delivered in the form of a dollar taco in the US.Same for restaurants that would have to charge high for a restaurant version.Ranchera or skirt steak here in the U.S. is not carne asada, inferior meats only used by lame tacos varios stands in Mexico and here in the US.

    What I would do is go buy USDA prime New York steak,marinate with lime and salt, fire up your grill with mezquite coals, grill some onions and chiles toreados,make a queso fundido, some flour tortillas, and a fiery salsa de chiltepin.Maybe add some beef ribs and tripa de leche for the full on Sonora parrillada.The steak should be cut into strips as you mentioned.

    Otherwise, you will have to go to TJ, the closest place to find real carne asada, with the cut, proper cooking, made to order,charred, and cut into strips.I will add that accompaniments are important, too.Beans and rice, nope! A baked potato and chiles toreados, queso fundido, torillas de harina, nopal, salsa de chiltepin, a fresh salad with roasted chile pasilla,Yes!!!

    I would love to have a place for real carne asada here in LA, and as good as El Parian is, it doesn't meet the criteria.

    7 Replies
    1. re: streetgourmetla

      dammit, i was hoping this thread would give me something to look forward to after finals are over.

      any places that (while admittedly imperfect) are worth going to in LA in your opinion?

      1. re: ceviche

        I find the Carne Asada at Xavier's in Newport Beach to be the best that I have personally experienced in the U.S.. The meat has always been succulent, and I really enjoy it. Thee best carne asada i have had though has been at the Guadalajara Grill in TJ, which is described to streetgourmetla.

        1. re: Schweinhaxen

          Can you please post the address and phone number to Xavier's? I've tried many of the so-called best carne asada places in LA and still don't think I've found anything worthy of the best carne asada title. El Taurino has a nice citrusy charred version and El Parian is good albeit very greasy in my opinion.

        2. re: ceviche

          Well, there is an alternative.La Casita in Bell has the Plato Conquista,grilled steak over nopal with Oaxaca cheese and a guajillo chile sauce.A classic Mexican dish and a great way to enjoy carne asada.Their straight carne asada isn't the right cut I believe, couldn't be at $9.95.

          Other than that I would look for a place that has arrachera(don't think this cut is available)or a NY steak plato.I saw some Mexican beef companies at the Expo Comida Latina that had arrachera and are trying to distribute in the US.

          Or, you could try Romesco in the San Diego area, Bonita,CA, and have their assado de arrachera.I haven't been there or had that plate, but that's looking like your best bet.The $25 price tag indicates the possibility of quality, and the fact that they are owned by a TJ restauranteur, Javier Plascencia, means that they are probably in touch with a source for Sonoran beef, or something close.It's served with a chimichurri(Argentine), but is a Mexican cut, different from entrana.

          Third option, go Argentine and go to Mercado Buenos Aires for an entrana, befe de chorizo, or the parrillada.

        3. re: streetgourmetla


          I've always found the best carne asada in the States to be made from flap meet, not skirt steak.

          NY Prime for carne asada? How could that not taste good ... You could season NY Prime with sawdust and I still would eat it.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Flap Steak is quite close to the skirt steak - it comes from the lower short loin which is near the plate where the outer diaphragm muscle is where the skirt is. They both are tasty but I like the arranchera 'skirt' the best. There is something about its texture in particular which sets it above the rest.

            Ive tried the skirt steak up against the filet mignon that whole foods sells and I will take the skirt steak anyday before the filet.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Yeah, know it sounds crazy, but in Sonora, the carne asada capitol of MX they use NY.My favorite TJ taco place has NY steak carne asada tacos.

              KR is right, the arrachera while close ot the skirt or flap is an entirely different experience.I've even ordered aged angus as carne asada from Sonora Steak in Hermosillo.Carne asada fans would loose their minds if they went to these places.

              But, remember, parrilladas and carne asada in Mexico is an expression equally important as the parrillada and churrasco are in Argentina and Brazil respectively.It stands to reason that Mexico would use their best cuts, the arrachera, cabreria, and NY steak.Check out the NY asada tacos at Tacos Salceados in TJ and get back to me.

              Other cuts are used too, but never the ranchera.

          2. thanks for explaining the difference!

            1. There's this little place called Lucy's drive thru. It's off La Brea and Pico. They have amazing burritos and tacos! Especially their Carne Asada!!

              1. We think da same. About that Not Asada list of yours, I have always found that even the best asada is ruin within minutes over the steam table. That fresh hot crusty char that comes only from a very hot grill turns into a a warm mushy tar when several steaks are piled into a closed container over the steam table. The flavor becomes stale just as fast.

                The only addition I would make is to your Yes Asada list. A Great asada is made great by a great maranade. Orange juice in the maranade is what does the trick. I agree that El Parian is good. The only place that I know that is better is your grill in your back yard. See my post below for the place to buy the maranade flap meat (Ranchera Preparada $3.98 lb). IMO, a hot gas grill is the only way to maintain the proper heat long enough to keep grilling meat for the long line of friends and relatives who have already filled their plates with tortillas, chips and salsa. The smoky flavor comes from the small pan over your fire which is filled with water soaked wood chips. There is something very special about the ambiance of waiting in line and then getting your asada while standing next to a hot grill, fire, and smoke -- it makes everyone very hungry. Most will eat the chips and salsa from their plates while looking at the griil when waiting in line. Therefore, have more chips and salsa at the tables. Take the steak from the grill and cut those strips of asada right over their plate and onto the waiting tortillas. You will make lots of friends.but only if your asada has the best maranade. Asada is a flavor / texture thing. See the post below.


                1. Awesome - you guys continue ruling out whatever's not real enough, charred enough or prime enough and I'll continue enjoying all the horrible faux-sada/guisada you leave behind.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: neobite

                    i hope my original post didn't come off as YALL AREN'T REAL ENOUGH FOR THIS.
                    i'm actually not one of those purists. i just like things that taste good.
                    and to my taste buds, grilled carne asada >>>>> the stuff from a griddle. not even the same ballpark. it's not about authenticity, it's about flavor.

                      1. re: ceviche

                        AND, the problem with food NOT cooked to order but has been sitting in a container is you do not know how long ago it was cooked. These small mom and pop asada taco places, even shrimp taco places, may have no standards. I once had some cold asada form the steam table which clearly came from the fridge and therefore was leftovers cooked ??????? I dumped it. IMO, we need a post on fresh re-fried beans also. I spent a night in the ER over that one. The only true protection you have is to eat enought of it that you can smell, taste, see, feel the difference from fresh hot firm crusty chared and limp re-heated leftovers.

                      2. re: neobite

                        Have you tried arranchera carne asada? We are not drawing lines in the sand but merely sharing information of whats out there - should you choose to step up and seek it. That is chowhound.