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Nov 18, 2009 05:27 PM

Antojitos de la Abuelita: Straight Outta Neza

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You may have noticed the food trailer parked on Vineland in North Hollywood in the last couple of months or so.This part of Vineland lies a few blocks south of Victory Bl., more related to the sketchy credit car dealerships that never seem to be open, and shoddy looking automotive enterprises of the the area surrounding the west side of the Burbank Airport.

In a mini strip mall across from buzzing power lines are three shops, a sign store, a party supply store, and a beauty salon. The owners, a family from Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl(fasting coyote in the nahautl language), a city in the state of Mexico, just outside Mexico City.It's referred to by locals simply as Ciudad Neza.

Neza has a bad reputation in the news, but its reputation of rampant crime is sensationalized much in the same way parts of East Los Angeles and South Central are portrayed. But, saying you're from Neza carries the same sense of pride that an Angelino might have coming from Compton or South Gate.These are great communities that have their challenges, but those who make it may feel an extra sense of accomplishment.

Antojitos de la Abuelita is run by a husband and wife team, along with family members, including la abuelita. They do the cuisine of Mexico City, so many seem to be popping up in recent years, but there's something else going on here.

They set up a tent and tables in the parking lot of their businesses providing the type of weekend mobile service you find in Mexico City. An outdoor sit down food truck, or rather a trailer.Their menu has the usual DF style snacks:pambazos, huaraches, and sopes, but their menu also includes other genuine DF street food items that make this restaurant a contender for the best DF style restaurant in town.

They offer different aguas frescas each day, chilled in jars at the condiment table.Horchata, jamaica, tamarindo, watermelon, or whatever is fresh that day.

Their tacos are excellent even though they are overshadowed by other menu offerings. The cooking of meats here are deft in flavor and texture. On weekends they do barbacoa cooked in maguey spines, moist and elegant flavors of mutton. You can get it with consome, but the taco by itself is a stand alone food.

The cilantro and onions cut fresh to your order by the three women working in the kitchen, tangy tomatillo salsa pairs brilliantly with gamey mutton.

The guajillo chile dipped and fried roll stuffed with chorizo and potatoes known as the pambazo is one of the best in the city.It's not quite the edgy version done by Nina's from Breed St., but neither does it shy away from the messy street food sandwich that it is.

This is also another kitchen within a kitchen of street soups. They serve menudo, which is mostly eaten from street stands on benches in Mexico, red pozole, and caldo de gallina.

All soups are made from scratch and from quality ingredients.The pozole has nice flavor, and can be had with chicken, pork,or both. This was the least interesting of the three, only because it was a little too salty, but still a solid pozole.

The real stars here are the menudo and caldo de gallina(hen soup).The menudo comes with a nice pata(foot), a prized item for the menudo lover.

This is a sublime menudo served in a genuine curbside setting. On some days they hang some pinatas from the party supplies store for additional ambiance.

Caldo de gallina the most common soup served all over Mexico City, in fondas, street stands, moslty by specialists. This is a rarely served soup in LA, which is odd considering the increasing number of DF style establishments.

But of course, this place is called Antojitos de la Abuelita, and the antojitos are worth the trip alone. This is where most DF, of Chilango restaurants start and end here in town.

Typical guisados(stews or fillings)are delivered in the grilled quesadillas, huitlacoche(corn smut), flor de calabaza(squash blossom)with cheese,mushrooms with cheese. The huitlacoche here is outstanding.

Huaraches, the large sandal shaped sopes come with traditional asada, or lengua. These are among the best in town, I like the black bean filling of the huaraches at Don Huarache, but the meat is superior here at Antojitos. All meats are tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Tlayudas, the so called Oaxacan pizzas found at our many Oaxacan restaurants in LA, are brought to a new sensation at this restaurant. I've always found the meats to be less than delicate.The cecina, thin chile marinated pork leg, and tasajo, salted beef round, are supposed to be supple and full flavored. The chubby Oaxacan pork chorizo is sometimes quite ordinary,pourly sourced by uninspired owners.

Here at Antojitos del la Abuela you will find arguably the most satisfying tlayuda, also spelled clayuda, in Los Angeles. The cecina, tasajo, and chorizo are delicious, their presence are revelatory as flvor components rather than filler.These are big enough to share, so grab one to go and pick up a six-pack of chelas(beers)for the perfect party snack.

The family isn't comfortable with pictures, they are very quiet and pleasant,but were concerned about why I was taking pictures. I had to get most of these items to go and photograph them at home of in my car, but this place is too good to keep a secret.

All their food is made to order, three reserved women with serious execution assembling street food master works.

This is the most serious Mexican kitchen in the Valley, and one of the deepest trucks in LA.

Antojitos de la Abuelita
6135 Vineland Ave.(parked in front of Party Supply)
North Hollywood, CA
Wednesdays through Friday around 5PM 'til 9PM
Saturdays and Sundays 8AM to 10PM
barbacoa, caldo de gallina, menudo,and pozole are weekends only.

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  1. You, my friend, are the MAN.

    Going there ASAP. Kind of wonder if they're open for Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks dude, I loves me some menudo...It sounds like a good one. I can't wait to gnaw on some foot this weekend.(smile)

      3 Replies
      1. re: burntwater

        This is some menudo to get excited about. Make sure to suck the marrow like a heathen, loud and proud. This has you written all over it. Do share your thoughts, burntwater.

        1. re: streetgourmetla

          Hiya Street,

          Today I made a trip out to your stand for a bowl of Menudo.
          The place is a nice little setup similar to what you would find around the H, G and C park areas.

          The ladies who work there are really, really nice and give the place a great vibe.

          I took a quick look at your pics to compare the bowl of Menudo I received today to the bowl in your picture. Unfortunately what I received today is probably the not the best example of Menudo that this stand is capable of.

          That being said this review may or may not do the place justice.

          Appearance, my soup was almost blood red and I could tell from the texture on top it was going to have a high fat content. I believe what has happened here is I received a ladle that was scooped from the top of the pot. The woman prepared my soup by taking a few ladles from a larger stove top pot and then transfered it to a smaller hand pot where it was heated up.

          Taste, I always try my Menudo first without any additions to get a pure taste of the soup base. Which means, no lemon, oregano or chilies.
          It is a very mild soup. The mildest Menudo I have ever had and I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just different.

          Another aspect of their Menudo that I'm not use to was the Patas had been removed from the bone.
          In one sense it could be viewed as a good thing. I didn't have to work to get my Patas and you do get more soup this way. Their Menudo is served sans Hominy.

          Overall even on perhaps a bad day for them it was still a nice bowl of Menudo.
          I've had worse from places having a good day.

          The bowl cost seven dollars.

          I'll go back and try again. Possibly the problem was going a little late in the day 1pm.
          I'll try again at 10 am, prime time for menudo and see how it goes.

          The rest of the items coming out of the stand looked great.

          Thanks for pointing out a new place.

          1. re: burntwater

            Thanks for going and commenting. Let me know what you think of the other items when you get a chance, and give the menudo another try. There are very few regional menudos around town, usually the Mexican-American variety, for which there are some fine versions. I like the menudo blanco at El Sinaloense, and really like this natural DF style at Abuelitas, sin grano(without hominy).