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Apr 30, 2004 02:04 AM

Pigging out at La Playita

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This evening, in my ongoing quest to sample L.A.'s tastiest oysters, I rumbled over to La Playita (in the 3300 block of Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica). This place is much-beloved by chowhounds for its seafood, its street-wise ambiance, and its low prices. Also, in keeping with the quest, a fellow 'hound, Bob, had recommended it for its cheap-but-good oysters.

Sadly, there were no oysters on the menu tonight. Perhaps it was too late in the day, or perhaps oysters are a weekend-only offering? In any event, I decided to console myself with a few of La Playita's other delicacies. So, I abandoned surf for turf, and ordered a few pig tacos.

I'm delighted to report that the BBQ pork taco was quite good, and overflowing with meat, and the carnitas taco was even better. Dang tasty: very juicy meat, doled out in abundance, with a nicely-balanced application of onion and cilantro, and some orange-colored sauce (Tapatio, I think).

For dessert, I had an order of seafood ceviche. Disappointing: it was much too sweet for my tastes.

The total bill was a princely $3.75. Gosh darn, I love this city.

Anyway, I was so happy with this meal, I've set aside the oyster quest temporarily, and taken on a new mission: to try all La Playita's piggy tacos. Next round: hog maws.

Not being familiar with this particular "cut" of pig, I had to look it up on the web. Turns out it's pig stomach (I'd thought it might be the jowl meat or some such.) Here's a colorful description of it, from another food site:

"...What a specialized organ the stomach is -- three layers of muscles that reminds one of corrugated cardboard, with smooth layers inside and outside, and convoluted muscles in between. The inside and outside smooth layer will have muscle fibers perpendicular to each other. "

Mmm, mmm, MMM.

As part of my mission, I'll also be trying the tongue and brain tacos, although I'm not sure if they come from the mighty pig, or the cow. Cow, pig, whatever; I'm eating them. But I'd love to know which beast provides these treats. Anybody know?

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  1. For piggy goodness, you must get the chicharron. (fried pork skin). Very tasty at La Playita.

    1. I drive by this place everynight, and have oft been inclined to stop by, but the line often discourages me.

      Does it take a while to get your food?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Xericx

        It's a shorter wait than a restaurant.
        Do it!

        (Wonders where the oysters went???????????)

        1. re: Bob Barnett

          I thought Oysters were out of season when the months don't have an "R" in it. Well, may is close enough. :(

      2. Both LENGUA -tongue and SESOS -brain come from the mighty cow.

        The traditional preperation for LENUGA tacos is simply cooked until tender and then chopped.

        There are home made dishes where the lengua is cooked (braised) and then sliced and partnered with a fresh tomato based chile sauce with fresh peas or green beans which is delicious. Havent seen this in restaurants here in LA>

        1. La Playita is my favorite hole-in-the-wall find in all of LA. Tacos are good but what they're really known for is the seafood...the fish ceviche tostada is a must-have.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ElJeffe

            Like the original poster, I really don't like the fish ceviche at La Playita. Way too sweet and the the chunks of fish are too big.

            The ultimo fish ceviche tostada is at La Isla Bonita, the daily lunch truck on Rose between 3rd and 4th. That thing is a masterpiece of simplicity and flavor, and is topped with sliced avacado.

            La Playita has gone way downhill since 2004. Their tacos are a joke now compared to most taco trucks.

            1. re: QualityMart

              Just finished my 3rd seafood tostada from my Playita to-go order, and I've got to disagree. The slight sweetness of the ceviche is a personal preference, personally I like it. And complaining about the chunk size seems arbitrary.

              The burritos are not your typical burrito size or taste, but I also still like them quite a bit. Perfect complement to the ceviche for a solid, cheap lunch. Decent carnitas too.

              Still stand by La Playita in a big way. Tacos Por Favor is on my list, so I'll give that a shot this weekend.

          2. When I first moved to los angeles in '96 I lived a half block from La Playita for a couple months and used to get lunch from there every day. Burritos were 2$ there then! Recently I went by there and the burritos were getting close to 5$, I think, and for that price I'd prefer to get one from Tacos Por Favor or elsewhere.