Manuel's EL Tepeyac, Boyle Heights
"Unfortunately this is a somewhat of a BASHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello everyone, I am here to write about a place that I have been eating at for about 28 years, and my parents visited before they were married. The place I am talking about is Manuel's El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights on Evergreen across the street from Assumption church. As a young boy I walked through two different gang territories to eat at Manuel's because I loved the food so much. I was even jumped and robbed on one occasion in front of the Evergreen Cemetery. I loved the beans, I would order a plate of beans and eat it with a tortilla, or I would order a plain bean and cheese burrito. As I got older I ventured out, and tried other dishes on the menu. The item that I became attached to is the Hollenbeck, I love this burrito and have to satisfy my craving every now and then.
Unfortunately I have noticed a change in the place I risked my life to eat at as a young boy. It seems the home style food I grew up loving has turned into a fast food Mexican restaurant!!! Those of you that think it is authentic and delicious now, you would be mesmerized at how good it was back in the day. The food had so much more flavor to it. The beans, the rice, the salsa, and the guacamole all had their distinct taste. Now it seems the taste level has been turned down on everything. The guacamole even looks different! It was fresh before, and now it looks and taste like pasty store bought guacamole...YUK!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday 4/13/09 I ate at Manuel's with my girlfriend, and as usual I ordered a Hollenbeck. We were at the outside patio, so I was able to look in the kitchen and watch the cooks prepare the food. I was surprised to see young new faces working in the kitchen. The service was terrible, the food usually comes fast, but yesterday, we were waiting and waiting for our food. Once we picked up our food, and I ripped into my burrito, I noticed the taste was not the same. I opened up my burrito, and inspected it, and to my surprise, there was no beans!!!!! I have to admit, I have been frustrated and disappointed with Manuel's for a while due to there reduction in flavor. For me this experience was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I love the place and will give it another chance, but I can't help to dislike what it has turned into. I feel it is a tourist attraction, and filled with people who order a Manuel special because they seen it on a TV program, or have read about it on some food review site. Manuel's has lost it's comfortable, home style Mexican food feeling and taste!!! On Fridays I would go to Manuel's, take a shot of tequila with Manuel, listen to good music, and eat good food. Now I wont go near the place on Fri evenings, or Sat, due to the long lines. Don't get me wrong there has always been a line outside, but now they are longer and the food is not as good.
I am happy the place is making good money and is known and enjoyed by so many people. On the other hand, I also feel it has a responsibility to maintain the good quality food that gave the restaurant such fame popularity.
I have NOT joined this site to tell everyone about my favorite restaurants, and secret jewels where I like to eat. I don't want these places to transform into tourist attractions and loose it's identity like Manuel's has. Instead I am here to inform people of the places I have tried and do not like.
As a young boy I risked my life to eat at Manuel's because I loved the good food, but now Manuel's is breaking my heart..."
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. It ain't gonna work. You are not goona stop the crowd. You would have better luck trying to tell a group of sexually active teens to try abstiance then trying to convinse anyone who loves Manuel's that it is not the same as it once was. Manuel's is the same and always will be. That special flavor in every dish is still there. Maybe when you return, and you will, just ask them to fix it if they forget one thing or the other. They will fix it because those faces you see there, new and old, who make that food all take pride in working at a L.A. landmark. I am not saying Manuel's is the best in the west but I am saying they offer a taste that you just have to have every-once-in-a-while.
There is apparently some transition going on there. The family that owns the restaurant also owns the property. And now they have put the real estate up for sale under a proposed long term lease-back arrangement. I may be wrong, but I assume that the day-to day operations are being turned over to the posterity of the original owners who are now seeking to retire and cash in on the property value. The succeeding operators may be looking at ways to cut corners which could very well be the reason for your recent dissatisfaction.
El Tepeyac served up mediocre pocho cuisine back when I was a kid growing up in East Los.... and it was still serving up mediocre pocho cuisine back in 2002... I really doubt anything has changed since then.
Ciro's is & has always been a little better... but again not much more than wannabe Mexican cuisine.