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LA Neighborhood of the Month (Sep 2012) - East LA/Boyle Heights

Announcing the first Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Month: East LA/Boyle Heights.

Here's a link to the voting thread. Because it was a tie, I decided to break it myself by choosing East LA/Boyle Heights. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865806

Here's a link to the nomination thread, which describes the project in detail: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865015

The neighborhood is East LA/Boyle Heights is defined with the following borders: The 5 to the west, The 10 to the north, The 60 to the south, and The 710 to the east.

Collectively, LA hounds will try as many places as possible in the neighborhood during the month of September. Report back here with reviews, pictures, and lists of the best things to try when visiting this neighborhood. This particular neighborhood isn't mentioned much on Chowhound, which leads me to believe that there are a lot of interesting things waiting to be discovered by this community...looking forward to seeing what you find!

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  1. I plan on trying at least three places this month. Today I hit my first, Los Cinco Puntos (at Cesar Chavez and Lorena St.)

    Ordered three enormous tacos on perhaps the freshest, most amazing tortillas I've ever eaten in my life (they make them right there -- thick, hot and just barely acidic.) The meats: trompa (pig snout), buche (pig stomach), and cuerito (fatty pig skin thing that's somehow different than chicharron -- almost translucent and lardo-ish.) All crazy delicious; I found them to be slightly better than Metro Balderas, and about equal in quality to Las Morelianas (though for me the tortilla/salsa/nopales trifecta puts LCP heads and tails above.) Anyway, like I said I ordered three but left with four, thanks to the older lady in line behind me who insisted I also get a blood sausage taco (not sure what this is called) after seeing me stare (drool?) at the bubbling vat of purple simmering away on the counter.

    Yeah, she's officially my new best friend (get the blood sausage.) This place rules. They made my week (them, and a great old movie called The Outfit I watched last night on iTunes.)

    PS -- A lot of people seemed to be getting meat by the pound, a bunch of tortillas, and the requisite fixings (salsa/nopales/etc.) to go. I wasn't there just yet, but hope one day to reach that level.

    PS2 -- No seats. You eat in the parking lot/your car or take them to go if you think you can make it back in less than 15 minutes (for the freshness factor.)

    8 Replies
    1. re: vegetablelasagna

      >>PS -- A lot of people seemed to be getting meat by the pound, a bunch of tortillas, and the requisite fixings (salsa/nopales/etc.) to go. I wasn't there just yet, but hope to one day reach that level.<<

      That was us today... a couple of pounds of carnitas, a pound of beef carnitas, two dozen tortillas, etc. etc. imho, Los Cinco Puntos is pretty hard to beat. A fair number of places in this area do good carnitas, but I think the salsas, guacamole and nopales are excellent.

      The hearty tortillas are thick and fresh - more than twice the weight of the Mission/Guerrero "cardboard" impostors. The whole process takes place behind the counter, from the nixtamalization of the maize to the rinsing and cooling, to converting it into masa and eventually shaped and grilled on the tortilla grill.

      The folks behind the counter are very friendly and helpful - English is no problem for those like me who are challenged.

      I was in the opposite predicament as you, vegetablelasagna. I was hoping to try the various meats by ordering a number of tacos, but I was still too full from dim sum in SGV. Will save this for the next time. This family-run business is great.

      http://www.los5puntos.com/Los5puntos....

      1. re: bulavinaka

        >>The folks behind the counter are very friendly and helpful<<

        Agreed. They were awesome. My family's also in the service/hospitality industry and they (the staff at LCP) hit all the right notes in a warm, habitual, easy manner.

        PS -- SGV dim sum and THEN LCP?! Ok, now THAT'S a level I hope one day to reach.

        Hardcore.

        1. re: vegetablelasagna

          >>PS -- SGV dim sum and THEN LCP?! Ok, now THAT'S a level I hope one day to reach.

          Hardcore.<<

          Coming from the Westside, one has to get the most bang for the buck. LCP alone is destination-worthy for the effort they put into their food. But why pass up an opportunity to double down, right?

          Can you describe the blood sausage? I enjoy Spanish morcilla, but have never tried any from Mexican cuisine - thanks.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Always double down on 11, bula. 11 and food.

            Ok, here goes...

            According to my internet research, the blood sausage dish is apparently called moranga, is cooked with onions and tomatoes, and made from sheep. I'd never had or even heard of it until yesterday. The dish itself was dark purple and wet. Thick but not gloppy, more the way a stew whose ingredients have congealed into an almost uniform viscosity would be, though there were still very tender chunks of meat throughout which hadn't broken down yet. It was also a little airy and residually bubbly.

            The taste. Smoky, savory, salty, spicy. Like a cross between chorizo, feijoada (there were no beans but still), a dark mole that isn't sweet, and (a hint of) blood. The smell is earthy and funky, and that's a good thing. It was recommended I get it with nopales and salsa, though next time will get one straight up and one with fixings. Straight up (from the small unadorned bite I was able to manage) was meaty and intense. The fixings add a brightness and acidity that provide balance and create an entirely new dimension that was almost even octopus like (probably due to the brine of the pickled cactus and the soft texture of the meat itself.) They also help kick the spicy up a few notches, which is always a plus.

            I don't know. The biggest thing is I scarfed it and immediately wanted more, and while waiting for my food wanted the entire tray and a very large spoon.

              1. re: vegetablelasagna

                WoW - if that description doesn't cover it all! Thank you...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Of course; this is why we're all here. But don't take my word for it. If you see something purple next time (that's, you know, not grape soda), get some!

          2. re: bulavinaka

            Both of these reports are great...glad to see that people are already exploring the neighborhood of the month!

        2. Great report on LCP. The only thing that I can add is that they're my favorite for tamales as well.

          1. Great posts here. Since I work in the area, I'm always looking for new places. We're big fans of Guisados Tacos on Cesar Chavez and St Louis Street.

            For tamales, our go to is Liliana's Tamales on Cesar Chavez just east of the 710.

            1. Mme Zoe had lunch at Mi India Bonita yesterday having a hankering for Albondigas soup for some reason in 95 deg heat BUT horrors, the restaurant has changed hands and the soup is no more. Our pilgrimage for the perfect meat ball is over and a new shrine must be found.

              Mi India Bonita
              East Olympic Blvd east of 710

              1. I was just reading the SGV Mid Valley News and saw that on Saturday, 9/8, Taste of East LA is taking place. Okay, it is one block south of the 60, which means it does not fit in the demographics outlined above, but it is between 3rd and the 60 which makes it pretty darned close. It is hosted by the East LA Chamber of Commerce and will feature food and music. $20 for a Taste Passport which includes 20 Taste Coupons. Would be a great way to try many different restaurants in one place!

                11am-8pm
                East LA Civic Center
                4848 Civic Center Way
                Los Angeles, CA 90022

                1. We tried Antojitos Carmen for the first time last weekend and loved it so much that we went back again yesterday with our oldest kid in tow.

                  We've tried the sopes, gorditas, huaraches and the deep fried quesadilla - all were delicious but we really preferred the masa creations over the quesadilla. We love the carnitas, the beef tinga and the potatoes con chorizo. The asada was good too, but in a side by side challenge, the carnitas won hands down.

                  Her salsa are amazing (the green was much much hotter this week than last) and the chiltepil is life changing. There are so many other places in the area we'd like to try (guisados is next on the list) but it's going to be hard to resist Carmen. Can't wait to try the pambazo.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Finally got over to Guisados today. Best place for tacos around, and the tortillas do remind us of La Super-rica in Santa Barbara. We had conchinita pibil, tinga de pollo, mole poblanos, chicharron & frijoles con queso, along with cheese quesadillas for the kids. Everything very tasty, conchinita pibil was super spicy, my husband was in heaven. Great place.

                    1. We attempted to go to Antojitos Carmen for the first time Sunday night, but they were closed. My boyfriend called, and someone answered and said the restaurant has new hours (now closes at 6pm on Sunday) and a new name?! Anyone know about the restaurant being gone/under new ownership? There's a Yelp comment saying the restaurant was sold, but the Antojitos Carmen website is still up.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chinchi

                        I read somewhere that AC was possibly moving. Sorry I don't remember where I read it.

                        1. I just saw this thread and it sounds like a great idea but chow peeps are hitting up the same spots that have already been covered for ELA/Boyle.

                          It's a bit of a catch 22.... If you have never been to this area then most likely you are going to want to try the popular places like Los Cinco Puntos, Anotjitos Carmen and Guisado. The catch is these are the places in ELA/Boyle you are trying to avoid if your looking for new undiscovered restaurants in the spirit of the original neighborhood thread.

                          Not to take away from the posters they were excellent reviews I was just hoping to read about a place
                          that was a hidden gem.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: burntwater

                            So are we. Doesn't look like anyone has taken up that challenge and reported back on this board. Feel free to be the first....