Monday, September 29, 2008

El Colmao

Considered by some the most authentic Cuban food in Los Angeles, El Colmao soldiers along, housed for nearly 40 years in an anonymous strip mall in the Byzantine Latino Quarter, far from the foodie frontera. El Colmao covers most of the Cuban basics, Bistek Empanizado, Picadillo, Pollo Ajo, and sides: fried plantains, mariquitas, garlic yucca, etc. In short, whatever your menu favorite at Lala's or the Versailles chain, you'll find it at El Colmao, likely for around 10 bucks.

As established in the Chipotle post, I'm a shredded beef guy, a machaca minion, so naturally my preferred order includes the Ropa Vieja, served in the traditional tomato based sauce with rice and black beans (or moros y christianos).

El Colmao sports an extensive beverage list, including things alcoholic and batidos. The flan was mediocre. The service at times...Cuban. The decor pleasantly outdated and clean.

El Colmao
2328 W. Pico Boulevard (near Magnolia)
Open 7 days a week

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chipotle (Part 2)

On the carnivore side of the aisle, Chipotle features a terrific barbacoa beef burrito. Barbacoa (from whence we get the word "barbeque") was introduced to Southwestern cuisine via Mexican settlers in Texas. Typically barbacoa is not marinated, rather sauces are added after cooking (similar to fajitas). Chipotle describes their barbacoa thusly: spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano. Braising involves first searing the meat at high temperatures and then simmering, in a covered pan with sauce. Adobo means seasonings.

Chipotle offers barbacoa in the conventional burrito form (with beans), in a fajita burrito (with sauteed peppers and onions instead of beans), or in a bowl (sin tortilla). The cost of the burrito is reasonable ($5.95), but they extract a king's ransom for chips & guacamole ($2.40). The Figueroa location, as Lisa noted, is bustling, a lunch staple for students, Expo Park personnel, and cops. Sidewalk seating is available as is validated parking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Manas Indian Restaurant

2823 South Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90007

When this place first opened, it was ALL VEGETARIAN. Although I'm still holding out for the LA City Council to expand their ban on fast food into a ban on meat, it hasn't happened yet and judging from the menu at Manas, there would probably be a riot. It wasn't too long after opening that Manas realized they couldn't survive in the carnivorous USC neighborhood without serving flesh, so they changed their menu to please the market.
Yes, it pissed me off, but I still go to Manas. The food is good, though not as good as it used to be, and there are a number of vegan choices. Last time I was there, I had the lunch special, some lentils, some other vegetable curry thing, rice and a salad. Very delicious.
Next door is an Indian market where you can buy vacuum packed Indian food, great for your earthquake kit or last minute meals.