For Eater’s Classics Week 2015, I put together a really nice #mediumread about Mitla Cafe, San Bernardino’s longstanding Mexican restaurant that helped form the basis of what would become Taco Bell.
There’s more to the history, though, as the piece shows: segregation, changing demographics, disenfranchisement and a sense of commitment to community.
Go take a look.
L.A.’s taco culture is an ever-evolving affair. Popular spots fall off just as new places come on strong, meaning there’s never a shortage of exciting places to discover and explore.
Just this year, a handful of taco operations have begun making a name for themselves, whether slinging old school carnitas or next-level fusion plates, while still others made waves simply by moving on. There’s exciting taco news on the horizon, too, along with the emergence of a detailed taco digest, meant to demystify the many regional influences of this city’s great carts and trucks. Here then are the most notable taco stories from the year that was.
You likely recognize Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, the upbeat cooking team behind longstanding Bell restaurant La Casita Mexicana. Their image is fairly iconic, particularly in the Mexican-American community, where the two have been watched weekly on various cooking programs and cooking competition shows across both Telemundo and Univision. But it’s not uncommon to find the affable Martin del Campo and Arvizu still hard at work at La Casita Mexicana, which has been going strong in Southeast L.A. for more than fifteen years.
It’s hard enough for any restaurant to make it to the twenty year mark, let alone one with as little signage and hidden-in-plain-sight feel as Santa Monica’s The Buffalo Club. Yet it’s exactly that quiet confidence and under the radar approach that has made the longtime Olympic Blvd. restaurant a standout with Hollywood types looking to escape for a quiet meal, media moguls eager to feel in the know, and an entire generation of locals who just want to drink in peace.
Almost imperceptibly, downtown’s always demure Q has managed to turn one year old this month. The slim, wood-lined eatery garnered a nod from Bon Appetit as one of America’s 50 best new restaurants, and is considered the standard bearer for quality Edo-style sushi, but chef Hiroyuki Naruke remains as soft-spoken as ever.
Sitting in his quiet, well-lit Financial District restaurant before another night of coursing out $165 omakase meals to waiting diners, Hiro-san talked with Eater about his newfound appreciation for Los Angeles, and why serving only what he wants is so important.
Jason Eisner likes to pour big — and often. The Gracias Madre bar manager pushes out north of 1,000 margaritas a night sometimes, and is always ready to put on a show for waiting customers. Not that anyone waits long at the all-organic bar. Eisner’s batch cocktail program is among the most progressive in the city, ensuring that quick drinks can make their way to thirsty customers out on that beautiful patio.
Still, there’s a lot of craft that goes into Eisner’s work. From rigorous staff training to teaching the inevitable crowds about the beauty of mescal, he’s always doing something.
Los Angeles is a city that has run on steak for decades. From Beverly Hills business lunches to thick late night slabs of prime rib, grilled meat has been a prime motivator for the L.A. restaurant scene for the better part of a century. And thankfully, many of the city’s great old school steakhouses are still standing. From Torrance dive bars that double as prime rib joints to Glendale tiki spots, this is a special The Five Days of Meat edition of are ten of the city’s best long-in-the tooth steak joints.
Tacos are the heartbeat of Los Angeles’ culinary scene. Upscale chefs sling braised meats and fresh tortillas alongside uni and imported mezcal, while daily loncheros keep the city fed with $1 late-night tacos from the same trusty location. From hand-patted tortillas to all manner of ingredients — stews, moles, seafood, slow-cooked pork and plenty of carnitas — there are endless iterations of possible taco greatness. Here, in no particular order, are twenty tacos to try before you die in LA.