Category Archives: East LA

The Road to Tacos Dorados: Mariscos El Jato in Boyle Heights

Tostada Mixta

During these consecutive rainy days, it’s important to remember that summer is, in fact, near. We suggest a Boyle Heights find, Mariscos El Jato, which is about as close as you’ll get to the dog days right about now. With fresh seafood and cold beer, the only thing missing is the feel of toes in the hot sand. This is Boyle Heights, not Ensenanda, but the mix-up is understandable.

Like many authentic Mexican eateries in East Los Angeles, Mariscos El Jato gives off a certain machísmo charm. Its tie-dyed exterior is adorned with bright murals of soccer playing goats decked in Chivas jerseys alongside obligatory paintings of scantily clad women. Inside is more of the same: televisions rolling the day’s fútbol highlights on repeat, young waitresses wandering between tables, decor reminiscent of a Mexican Ed Hardy (Eduardo, then?). No doubt, in outward appearance, this is a boy’s club. A place where world weary men venture after work for a frosty beer, a good meal, and frank conversation. It may come as a surprise to an outsider, then, that the food served here is delicate, refreshing and—dare we say—refined.
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*Editor’s Note: I have recently begun an internship at Los Angeles magazine, and now write periodically for their dining blog, The Digest. Of course, future posts specifically for the Los Angelicious Times will still continue.

Soccer Playing Goats?! What a world!

The Tie-Dye Madness of El Jato

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Zamora Brothers Carnitas: Pork in its Purest Form

Zamora Bros. Carnitas: Pink Gold

     Throw a stone anywhere in LA, and your bound to hit somewhere that serves carnitas. Even Taco Bell, currently involved in a lawsuit contesting that its beef is actually beef, tried their hand at a rendition of the carnitas taco. Despite the many bastardized and sanitized version that are available, there remain places in this city that serve carnitas that truly pay homage to what you’ll find in Central Mexico. One such establishment is the family-run Zamora Brothers Carniceria, located just north of Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles; not to be confused with a unrelated Zamora Bros. further west on Cesar Chavez Avenue, nor with another in Pico-Union that closed briefly last year due to a fire. This particular Zamora Brothers serves food “estilo Iripuato”, or originating from the Mexican city of Irapuato in Guadalajara. The building’s exterior is decorated in regal red and blue colors crowned by a slightly disturbing mural of a teary-eyed pig ready to be cooked.
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Tortas Ahogadas Y Mas: Exploring Whittier Boulevard in East LA

Torta Ahogada: Half Soup, Half Sandwich

     Even on a day with no parades or festivals, the stretch of Whittier Boulevard that lies just east of the 710 freeway is teeming with life. The street is one the main arteries of East Los Angeles both in terms of geography and culture; home mostly to blue-collar workers and their families who, unlike most Angelenos, rely on transportation other than automobiles to get around. The crowds that linger at bus stops or walk the streets here give this section of town a vibrancy that is rare in LA. It is the feeling of undiluted city life where, for better or worse, the boundaries between public space and private life breaks down. Catering to this eager crowd is a wide array of Pan-Latino food vendors that, in LA at least, is unrivaled in it’s selection and multitude: from corner tortilleria’s decorated in day-glo orange murals to hobbled carts selling mayonnaise-slathered grilled corn. It makes for an exciting mix, and eating a bad meal in this neighborhood is a difficult thing to do. Continue reading

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