Ask the Glutster: Where are them non-holiday season tamales hook ups???

Hey Javier,

How are things going?

I’m looking for some recommendations for food for a house party of 35-40 people. Who would you suggest makes good platters of tamales? I know it’s typically a Christmas thing, but they’re an easy party dish.
If you have any other ideas, I’ve already done taco research. Any good churros?
Thanks and I hope you’re well.


I know it’s kind of overdone and you’ve probably heard this before but Guelaguetza always has  a steady supply of them banana leafed bad boys. Also, the most central location for most Angelenos.

But if you want to get some truly awesome shit and go out of your way a little, let’s go eat at Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses and I’ll introduce you to Rocio. She’ll whip you up however much you want of them steamy, corn love nuggets with extra Oaxacan TLC.

And lastly, my top recommendation of all: LAS BRISAS DE APATZINGAN in Santa Ana.

Gustavo Arellano brought me here for dinner when he asked me to give a lecture at his Cal State Fullerton class and they proved to be the best damn tamales I’ve ever had, almost like them more than my moms! Well, they are different. The thing is that these are “Uchepos,” those  freshly shucked corn (no masa here homie) based sweet tamales from the underestimated state of Michoacan. The texture is like hot pudding and you top each one with tart tomatillo salsa, a dollop of Mexican Crema and imported stinky, salty Cotija cheese for a sweet and salty nutritious dessert/dinner. My girlfriend and I religiously come here on the first Saturday of every month just to buy a dozen to take back home, we freeze them and ration them out through out the month, haha.

As for churros, hmm, I’ll get back to you on that shizz, last time I saw Salinas Churro truck was at a random backyard, probably getting some mecanico work done. But its too hot for fried dough anyway man!

Lemme knowwwwww.

-Javi Lokes

changed sides tamale

(Header photo taken by Paola Briseño (Research and Kitchen).)

3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses
6242 Maywood Ave., Bell.

Las Brisas de Apatzingan
1524 South Flower Street
Santa Ana, CA 92707
(714) 545-5584

A Taco Dorado de Ternera for The Soul at Birriería Aceves (Mercado de Abastos: Guadalajara, Mexico)

“What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten?” is a question that every food writer gets every once in a while. And while I tend to brush it off due to the mere impracticality of the bold question, I’ve been thinking about it recently.

First of all, for such an answer to even exist, there are usually a number of undisclosed intangible factors in the food that comes to mind: the nostalgia, the cultural aspect, the significant others eating with you etc. Secondly, we all must eat three (or more!) freaking times a day, multiply those three times however days old you are and you’ll understand why the question is a little far-fetched.

Well, all this is basically true until — you actually eat that best thing you’ve ever eaten.

Taco de Ternera

What this is, ladies and gentlemen, is that best thing: A taco of Birria de Ternera from Birriería Aceves in the Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara.

I think the fact that this was the only food stand with a ten minute wait among a dozen others open gave the awesomeness of this place away. The guy dry-roast’s chunks of fatty ass veal, then throws a fucken ladle-full of umami-laden birria broth on top of the crisp-skinned tenderness. And to finish it off, wraps the roasted baby cow  in a sturdy handmade tortilla that is then pan fried ’till brown and crisp. It produces this kind of Xia Long Bao pork belly-like lipid anarchism in your mouth. Squeeze a little lime on it with a few tablespoons of table-oxidized minced raw onion (no cilantro!) and you get “the best thing you’ve ever eaten.” Apparently, this style is common in Jalisco and is recognized as “Birria tatemada,” which translates over to a combination of blackened and/or smoked Birria.

Yup, blackened and smoked fucken Birria made from local Mexican veal.

And the intangible factor for me this time around? Scarcity! My significant other had inhaled her half and I was taking turns between my half of the beauty and a bowl of roasted goat Birria in broth to make the decadence last. Then, out of nowhere, the cutest little girl came asking for money to buy food. Naturally, my table-mate handed her my half-taco on the premise of burgeoning Mexican capitalism and being able to afford another taco.

We obviously did not know the greatness of Birríeria Aceves, they had sold out of all food right after we ordered ours at 11 AM sharp. The little girl nibbled on her winnings and ran off to another patron who didn’t spare even a quarter of a lime.

birria tatemada
At least I had a 1/2 bowl of Birria.

And that was that, the best thing I’ve ever eaten. As a consolation, I did eat a pretty decent quesadilla a couple of food stands over. It was griddled in the same manner but instead, stuffed with pickled squash blossoms and queso Adobera, a local cheese with a similar meltability like Monterey Jack. With a side of nopalitos and guacamole, I was good. Plus, the Tianguis de Tonalá was our next stop and there was plenty of munchies and drinks to be had there too,  I was sure.

quesadilla at mercado de abastos in Mexico City

For dessert, we stopped at a dulceria attached to the Mercado and picked up a sugar-free Mazapan made of pepita seeds. Oh well, on to the next best thing to eat.

Birriería Aceves
In the Mercdo de Abastos of Guadalajara.
Between Calle Nance and Mandarina.

The Great American Al Pastor Taco myth busted at El Carboncito and a walk along El Malecón (Puerto Vallarta)

My poor little blog, it got me tv shows and writing gigs and now — I have neglected it. My bad, to any Glutster readers, if there are are still any out there. The problem has been an internal one for me, trying to juggle and take school seriously while trying to hustle in the paid food writing world. To write and make some gas money or write for myself (SANS-EDITING) and feel awesome about it?

Well, what ended up happening was just me pretty much half-assing everything and not coming through successfully on any front, nor academic or writing. I failed math my math class yet again and fell behind in writing. But thanks to a recent “WTF” epiphany, I’ve realized my lazy ass ways and will now strive to change them. Yes, Gustavo Arellano, if you are reading this, your wish has come true for more Chicano bloggers as you and I type!

El Malecón
El Malecón” in Puerto Vallarta, bustling

That being said, I’m going to base my next series of posts on my recent discoveries of awesome food in Mexico, San Francisco, Portland and wherever else the tasty will take me. In other words the pitches and stories about food, booze and music that Saveur didn’t buy, haha. Oh, the joys to write so freely and with so many grammar and syntax mistakes. Now, if I go broke, that is all your guys’ fault!

For all the right reasons, I found myself in the lovely city of Puerto Vallarta this last new years eve. I was introduced to the local people, food and traditions of such an underestimated part of Mexico. Vallarta is not as corporate as Cancun, at all and in terms of regional authentic foods and drinks, it’s pretty much undiscovered as fuck with some pretty eccentric street foods readily available. Even at El Malecón, the city’s Universal Citywalk of sorts complete with a Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory and all, you will find drinks such as Tuba, a fermented coconut fizzy drink sprinkled with pecan and apple pieces that made its way from the Philippines during the Spanish conquest — now accustomed in the costeño tradition because of all the dang coconuts that grow everywhere.

tuba nayarit
refreshing Tuba

Walk a little deeper into La Zona Romántica and ask for the locals price on such things as local oysters from the neighboring coastal state of Nayarit or Ceviche de Calamar, local calamari treated with ketchup paste, lime and cilantro. The ceviche, in Vallarta fashion, is made with tons of shredded carrot and finely ground fish, although no Tilapia here, think Dorado or Red Snapper fish caught earlier that day. Yup, tis’ all common street food in the city of Bugambilias flowers blossom pridefully. As a matter of fact, there is a small CANIRAC walk of fame dedicated to Puerto Vallarta for it’s awesome hospitality and local cuisine

canirac ode
local ostiones
Local oysters from Nayarit for about $6 US for half about a dozen
tostadas combo
Tostadas de ceviche: Street Food in Vallarta

But as the night gets deeper and the beer and tequila munchies start to creep in, there is really only one place you need to know about. El Carboncito in the north end of downtown on Honduras street. This place changed my life, ie. my beliefs in the al pastor taco system.

Tacos del Al Pastor at El Carboncito in Puerto Vallarta

The tacos I grew up in Los Angeles, the city of Mexicans of every generation a’ plenty — was not this. In Los Angeles there are trompo’s, the prized vertical spits in the Lebanese Shwarma style that every self proclaimed taco expert swears by. But they are seldom ever sliced directly off the spit into a tortilla to eat directly as is. No, they are usually finished off in a pan, just like any other standard taco meat, right? As long as there is plenty of caramelized onion, achiote and citrus flavor?

Well, not really, a real taco de al pastor is three or four paper-thin slivers of pork on a tiny tortilla with a squirt of salsa, dash of cilantro, onions and lime. They are less flavorful things in this world that can be engulfed in a single bite and in dangerously large amount like this. But the most important part of the taco is a tiny one; the tiny chunk of cooked fresh pineapple atop each corn cake. It might be the meat-tenderizing/digestion enhancing bromelain in the fruit or just the same pineapple-pork phenomena that occurs in Hawaiian pizzas, whatever it is. There is no way to have an al pastor taco ever again.

Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses: Mundane Mexican No More II

It brings me immense joy to announce that Rocio Camacho, the self proclaimed artisan Mole matriarch of Los Angeles–has finally opened up her own restaurant.

Rocio's Mole de Los Dioses
Rocio and her restaurant

Almost four years have passed since I first met Mrs. Camacho
. Those of you OG “Teen-Gluts” veterano readers of mine might remember my notorious post on her breakthrough project at Moles La Tia in East L.A. Hell, ya’ll better! Jonathan Gold even gave me props in his review, ‘member now?

She’s done her time, revamping and consulting for a fair amount of Eastern Los Angeles restaurants like La Huasteca in Lynwood and Juan’s Restaurante in Baldwin Park. But now, she’s doing things 100% her way, finally.

The restaurant is located in the city of Bell, just north of Gage Avenue, along the industrial strip of Maywood Avenue. Actually, the place is located just a handmade-tortilla’s-throw away (frisbee style though!) from another highly respected regional Mexican cuisine establishment.

The informal invite was courtesy of a midweek wall post on facebook briefly stating the address with the additional comment of “a partir de las 10 va empezar la danza azteca los esperamos.” (from ten onwards, the Aztec Dancers will start, we’ll be waiting.”

Aztec dancers? God-quality Mole’s? Mark me down for that party!

But as per Sunday lazy-ass-Javi rule, of course I slept in and missed the whole ceremony done by Kalpulli Tlaltekuhtli, the clan of Aztec Dancers she hired. But I did get to see them bless the establishment with copal and lots of good vibes so that was pretty cool.

The place is cozy, small, one of them restaurants that look like they used to be a residential house before or something. You will go there to eat her food and you will park for free parking across the street too.

Tamarindo con Serrano

I brought my mom along for the morning mole cruise and were immediately introduced to her signature bad-ass aguas frescas as soon as we sat. Today it was to a Tamarindo con chile de Arbol drink, yes, just as good as it sounds, and then some eight day old Tepache.

Chef came out and greeted us; she almost did a cartwheel on her way over. “Ohh, tienes que probar nuestras Conchitas que una panaderia nos hace no mas para nosotros!” (Ohh, you have to try our Conchitas that a local bakery makes just for us!)

conchitas con cafe de olla
conchita bite
Conchitas con Cafe de Olla

Soon after, two little fluffy bread pillows crusted thick with layers of vanilla and chocolate Mexican strudel topping came hovering our way. Along with them came a couple of steaming mugs filled with Cafe de Olla, the piloncillo sweetened, cinnamon spiced rendition of coffee that is the premiere choice for rancheros. ‘Twas bomb, the conchitas were somehow not really sweet or buttery like their usual mass panaderia counterparts, no, these were more like a dinner roll who got the morning shift and tried his most sincere effort filling in.

barbacoa taco de rocio
Barbacoa Taco’s

I considered this work so set aside my preferences and asked the chef to send out whatever was new or whatever she wanted me to taste. My mom however confidently ordered a pair of barbacoa tacos. Not too shabby and not sheisty on the meat, all the better when the meat is actually pretty damn tender and the tortillas are handmade. In true Mexican fashion, she ordered for more tortillas and rationed out the filling amongst them.

mole de mezcal y betabel con ternera
Mezcal, Chipotle and Beet Mole + Green Mole smothering some grilled veal

Chef sent out her newest mole creation, a pasty and full bodied mole made from nuts, thickened with beets, spiced with chipotle and flavored with Mezcal. I forgot what god name she gave it but it was unlike anything I’ve had before. It exhibited the same contrastingly sweet responsibility that a traditional Demi-Glace has towards veal but even more so, outdoing itself with its mucilaginous smokey heat and exceedingly satisfying texture. The juice-seared thin cut of veal was an upper class carne asada that had been “green-washed”. No rice and beans for this affluent chop, just baby greens….baby. The mole verde was their only to provide a bland comparison to take refuge in as you scooped up chewy tortilla piece after piece smeared with the godly paste.

And now a moment for her tortillas. Yes. Her chewy and thick hand-clapped corn disks of gold that she makes a la minute certainly warrants a paragraph of its own. She’ s a yellow corn type of ‘gal and she would not have it any other way, ever. Despite the fact that she is the head chef at her establishment and had three other cooks working under her, she still clapped out most of the tortillas herself. They are complex enough to be a meal in themselves when served alongside any of her bare mole sauces. Jonathan Gold once described them as “better than some of the entrees at Michelin-starred restaurants.”

Guacamole con Maracuya y Habanero
Guacamole with Passionfruit and Habanero

She implemented a new varied guacamole program on her new menu as well. I expressed a profound interest in her “Diosa Sangre Ardiente” guacamole, a guacamole she makes that has fresh passionfruit flesh and habanero pepper. I know dude, seriously. She serves the fruity guacamole on the half-shell with warm, freshly fried chips using the same tortillas from earlier, they puff up into a an Indian Paratha like texture and shatter ever so deliciously in your mouth as you chomp on them.

Tejocotes y Calabaza con Piloncillo
Piloncillo braised tejocote fruits and pumpkin

Camacho wants to make eating at the restaurant available to everybody and decided to keep her prices extremely friendly. I’m talking less than $5 for a complete breakfast plate or the earlier Guacamole plate friendly, and less than $15 for a generous entree friendly. The menu is DIY, it is set up so you can choose your own protein and choose your own sauce too. She will also have other pre-hispanic favorites such a “Sopa de Piedra”, a minimalist seafood soup she will serve bubbling in clay pot. And last but not least, she will be bringing the delicacy of “Carne de Chango” direct from La Sierra de Los Tuxtlas to Los Angeles. A dish from the Catemaco region of Veracruz, the charred sugar cane and guayaba leaf smoked pork meat is made to mimic the flavor of the monkey meat delicacy of my decolonial past.

Although the edible sweet ending to this meal was a bowl of hot piloncillo-braised tejocote fruits and tender pumpkin. Upon licking my guacamole plate clean, I felt the very same happy feeling that I felt when I first tasted her food. A feeling of ease with myself and my palate. Here I was, eating with my mom, the very same type of food she thought was just an unhealthy obsessional food phase I was going through at first. Except now, it was a full blown, fully accepted–and embraced–passion.

Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses
6242 Maywood ave.
City of Bell CA.

Open 7 days a week 7 AM to 10 PM.

Baja California Culinary Fest: A 10 course multi-chef dinner at Mision 19

Probably half of L.A.’s food writing media was in Tijuana over the weekend as part of the Baja Culinary Fest 2011, “an international event that will allow the projection of Baja California [as] an important culinary venue with first class cuisine and innovative proposals” according to their website.

Fellow Mexican food reconquista writer Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet L.A. organized this whole trip for Angeleno “foodbloggers and friends of them”; he’s been the underestimated food city’s main food writing advocate for the last couple of years. The $205 ticket included this dinner, a two-nights stay at The Gran Tijuana hotel, access and almost unlimited food at the food festival component of the event, and a three stop street food crawl with Bill and Javier themselves. With the seafood intensiveness of the meals, free flowing booze and transportation, the ticket was a steal. It was obvious this was an event not really made up to make money but instead to really just spread the word that Tijuana’s “Baja-Med” exclusive cuisine and food community is if not the most bad ass of all of Mexico, then definitely comparable to it…

We arrived in Tijuana at around 7:30 PM and drove directly to Mision 19, the latest and hippest new restaurant of Chef Javier Plascencia, the city’s local food superhero. He organized this whole event and this particular dinner was the hottest ticket in town, combining the efforts of three different regional Mexican chefs, two different sommeliers and Julian Cox, the Mexican-inspired mixologist extraordinaire from Los Angeles. Amongst some of the high profile attendees were Lesley Barger Suter of L.A. Magazine, Barbara Hanson of Table Conversations, Garrett Snyder of Los Angeles Magazine and Search and Devour, Joshua Lurie of Food GPS, Matthew Kang of Mattatouille, Fiona Chandra of Gourmet Pigs, Esther Tseng of EstarLA, Caroline on Crack, Elina Shatkin of LA Weekly, Dave Lieberman of OC Weekly, Pat Saperstein of Eating L.A. and many, many others that I am too lazy to type out.

Mision 19
hungry foodies

Everyone was pretty freaking famished. It took five long bus hours to get to Tijuana from Los Angeles on a Friday afternoon during peak rush hour. We waited around half an hour to eat once seated. My randomly chosen table mates and I were even starting to think of ways to cut and eat the centerpiece! A huevo!

nopal centerpiece

Eventually, the food started to come out. I won’t poetically bullshit too much about each course as the food-writing norm goes, but I will share some thoughts on the dishes.

Primer Tiempo: Chef Angel Vazquez (Chef from Puebla)
Tiradito de Hamachi: Rabanos/charales/chicharron/limon en conserva/habanero/sal

Wine pairing: JC Bravo-Palomino 2010.

Raw fish is always awesome as a first course, especially when the fish is local, fresh and as high quality as the hamachi on our plate. You can tell it was fresh because of that sinewy chew fresh sashimi has. I liked the fried charales as garnish, the little white fish were crispy and addictive like chips. Habanero was cool too.

Segundo Tiempo: Javier Plascencia
Tuetano de Res Rostizado: Atun Aleta Amarilla/Tobiko/aire de serrano

Cocktail pairing: “Negrito Sandia” (Julian Cox)

The cow bone was split lengthwise, roasted and propped on a bed of coarse salt; it was topped with chunks of fresh Yellowfin tuna, micro cilantro greens and ultra-thin slivers of toasted baguette. I liked it, somehow the fish lightened up the beef fat. It could have been a little more roasted though; some of the luscious beef fat still had the texture of a fat looogie. Nonetheless, the cilantro was fucking brilliant with the marrow The best part was Cox’s cocktail that tasted like a fresh watermelon with Tajin sprinkled on it. I’m pretty sure that was everyone else’s favorite of the night too.

Tercer Tiempo: Pablo Salas (Chef from Toluca)
ensalada de barros
Ensalada de Berros con Vinagreta de Piloncillo: Queso de Rancho Alegria

Wine pairing: Paralelo Emblema (2010)

The salad course couldn’t have come at a better time. The full flavored watercress greens paired with the toasted-amaranth-grain infused piloncillo vinaigrette was pretty awesome. The cheese was a standard stiff-curdle pressed farm cheese, known as a “cuajo” to Mexican cheese people.

Cuarto tiempo: John Rivera Sedlar
Sardineria: Flan de Elote/quinoa Negra/flor de calabaza

Wine pairing: Pijoan Dominica 2009

Classic Sedlar! The popular chef brought his signature New Mexican-Los Angeles fangled dishes to Baja for this event. The corn flan was creamy and buttery as always, topped with chewy black quinoa and served alongside a piece of mystery fish that resembled cod in texture. The sauce underneath was a madras curry one, mmmm Indian flavored Mexican-esque food.
Quinto Tiempo: Sedlar
Chile Relleno
Codorniz de Valle Guadalupe: Chile verde/duxelle de champiñones

Wine pairing: Pijoan Dominica

Classic Sedlar again! The best part of this dish was definitely the chilito relleno, it was stuffed with a meaty ground mushrooms paste. The tiny local Cornish game hen was a tad underdone and still pink inside. I loved it actually, “Salmonella-risk is flavor!” I always say, but others seem bothered with it.

Sexto Tiempo: Salas
Cerdo Almendrado
Cerdo Almendrado: Papa Cambray/aceitunas (sorry for raping the dish with flash; I was pretty buzzed)

Wine pairing: Vino Shimul-Yumano 2009

The almond sauce smothering this was bomb, like a “vanilla” equivalent option to traditional Mole if there were such a thing. It was way lighter and easier on the palate than any Poblano or Negro. As the Mexican usual, the overcooked meat only served as vehicle for the minimalist, chunky almond sauce.

Septimo Tiempo: Vasquez
pork belly
Pork Belly: Platano/vainilla/naranja/relish de tomate verde con frijol de olla/reduccion de cocoa

Wine pairing: Estacion porvenir-textura 3 2009

Despite the dessert like sweetness of this and undercooked beans (a turn-off…especially for beaners!), I actually really liked this dish. But then again it was properly cooked pork belly and chocolate on a plate, so when isn’t that going to be amazing?

Octavo Tiempo: Plascencia
pato en seco
Pato añejado en seco: Persimo Fuyu/granada/col de bruselas/Mazapan

Wine pairing: Viñas Pijoan-Leonora2009

The duck was the last savory course of the evening and was traditionally served with a bunch of sweet stuff to contrast the rich duck fat. Duck is one of my favorite animal proteins and I grew up on the crumbly peanut candy known as Masapan, so, the pairing of these two things worked finely for me. The persimmon was on the ripe side too, which was a plus.

Noveno Tiempo
Quesos Artesanales: Miel de Abeja/mermelada artesanal

The cheeses in this cheese course were all locally sourced from Valle de Guadalupe, Baja’s own wine country down by Ensenada. They were arranged from youngest to oldest, in other words, from least funkiest to most! The first one was like Monterey Jack, the middle one was a little more cakey and more nuanced, but the last one was the winner for the average cheesehead. The honey and guava jam underneath rounded out the creaminess of each. The añejo was some serious stuff, it was the cakiest of all and had a thick rubbery rind like a pair of super old, dirty Chuck Taylor’s, a little too funky for me but the camarada Garrett was all up in that shiiit!

Decimo Tiempo
Calabaza de Otoño: Cacahuate salado/chocolate amargo

I received the sweet component of this tasting meal with open arms after the savory onslaught. No one got credit for the dish but they should have. It was artfully presented and rationally thought out, each ingredient was served in paste form except for the Butterfinger-like crunchy salted peanuts. The calabaza de otoño paste had a camote-like flavor, the traditional Mexican dessert of yams cooked in brown sugar. It was described to be “like those chocolate bars that would melt in your pocket and accidentally make it better” by Garrett.

I came in buzzed off three Mexican craft beers and a tequila shot before the dinner and by the end of this wine-o dinner, I was pretty plastered. That still didn’t stop me from going upstairs and taking advantage of our open bar wristband, a Tamarind-Coffee Margarita and couple of Agavia tequila shots later, I was officially annihilated. Garrett and I ended up eating oysters at 3 AM somewhere in Tijuana and I woke up in my room’s hallway at 5 AM but one thing was for sure, this was certainly an “once-in-a-lifetime” type of collaborative dinner that I will never forget. It brought together skilled chefs from both sides of the border.

To Javier Plascencia for organizing this epic event and Bill Esparza for making the trip happen and deal with fifty hungry, impatient food-minded Angelenos who don’t know how hard it to make an event of this caliber run so smoothly as it did. I know next year’s will be even better and smoother.

Mision 19 cockails
Tamarind-Coffee Cocktails at Bar 20: Part of Mision 19


Mision 19 “Cocina de Autor”
Misión San Javier 10643
Piso 2, VIA Corporativo
Zona Urbana Río
Tijuana, B.C., México
Tel: (664) 634.2493

La Feria del Nopal 2011 Happening This Saturday at Juan’s Restaurante (Baldwin Park)

Folks, it is that time of year again! Las Ferias del Nopal is coming back to town!

Some of you might remember my announcement last year of the cactus celebration on LAist. Well, this Saturday will mark it’s second year of celebration!


(taken from their website)

La Feria del Nopal (Cactus Festival) is a community event hosted by Juan Mondragon, owner and executive chef of Juan’s Restaurante. The purpose of the event is to expose the community to the benefits of cactus consumption. La Feria del Nopal was held for the first time last December. The event turned out to be a success, which prompted Juan to make it an annual affair. While the event is still in its early stage, the support for it has been growing at a steady pace. This year, La Feria del Nopal will be held on Saturday, August 20th, 2011 from 12 – 8 PM.

What to expect if you come? Well, from what I could remember last year? Fresh nopal salads, nopal flavored-flan’s, nopal flavored polvorones (Mexican shortbreads), nopal-based agua frescas and of course…handmade nopal tortillas!

Also, traditional Aztec dancing and a whole evening filled with musical entertainment.

Ensalada De Nopales
Cactus Salad

Agua Fresca De Nopal Y Piña
Agua Fresca de Nopal y Piña

Fresh Handmade Nopal Tortillas!

Did I mention that Juan Mondragon (owner of Juan’s Restaurant) is actually a personal chef for a bunch of celebrities too? So, don’t be surprised if one of his star customers decides drop by. (check out his facebook profile if you don’t believe me!)

I love nopal, it’s actually a comfort food for me that makes me feel happy. I grew up eating the stuff, and recently, enjoy it more for the sheer detoxing, anti-diabetes health benefits of the slime-tender vegetable!

So, if you have time, shoot on by to the eastern wastelands of Baldwin Park and eat some nopal to be healthy!

Hay nos vimos!

Juan’s Restaurante
4291 Maine Avenue
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
P. 626.337.8686


This just in from a returned phone call by Juan Mondragon of Juan’s Restaurante!

Aztec and Mayan dancers are being flown in from Mexico, yes, folks, there will be free limpias, cleansing and dancing!

Pambazos in Mexico City: The Street Food Sandwich To Rule Them All

As soon as I got to Mexico City, I stopped at my friend Edwin’s house. His name on facebook is Edwin “Beerman” so you can only imagine what was to follow shortly thereafter for the rest of the evening.

leon shot
Leon: Mexico’s “Munich Style” Dark Beer

Several innumerable oversized caguamas later, the Mexican beer munchies came a knockin’. Luckily, Doña Loreto, colonia Ahuizotla’s resident nocturnal Pambazonera was located down his street.


She doesn’t even start setting up until 9 PM but there were already people lining up waiting for her shimmering flat top to heat up.

the pambazo scene

She specializes in quesadillas and pambazos, sencillas (as is) or tricked out with a fat scoop of her homemade guisados.

pambazo opened

I opted to order mine with slivered sautéed champiñones (mushrooms) in addition to the traditional stuffing of Mexican chorizo spiked, fried mashed potatoes. I was lightly drooling as I patiently waited for the red-chile-sauce drenched telera roll’s edges to crisp up.

Fortunately, I was beer goggling it sick and didn’t think twice about the amount of creamy, unrefined lard she must have spooned over it, on both sides of the halved pieces of bread of course.

Around maybe seven eternal minutes later, the fried sandwich was finally ready. A pambazo is a unique individual in the pantheon of Mexican street food. Some people describe it, as a “Mexican French Dip” but that isn’t quite politically correct for this day and age, it certainly deserves much more respect than that. A pambazo is a proud sandwich transsexual who wished it were born an enchilada and damned it will be if it lets gastronomy norms get in the way of that.

Who’s to say it has to be tortilla and not a piece of bread that has to be drenched in red chile and griddled in order for it to be stuffed with cheese or potatoes? Hell, let it do whatever it wants. If it wants to have multiple toppings, so be it! Salty, crumbly cotija cheese, thinly shredded crisp iceberg lettuce and thick Mexican crema? Si se puede! Especially, if it’s still soft and moist on the inside while the edges are golden brown and crisp.

pambazo full body
Equality for all!

*Pambazos can be found pretty much everywhere tacos roam in Mexico City