Saturday, October 10, 2009

La Playita - Marina Del Rey

Seems odd that we have not found a good truck in Van Nuys. It's Saturday lunch time so in Venice it's La Playita time. They are found near the storage rental place on Glencoe just south of CostCo. The truck can be found six days a week there. Its' run by a bunch of fine fellows. La Playia is mobile arm of the La Playia stand on Lincoln Blvd up from Whole Foods. We've been fans of the Lincoln stand for years, but the parking is tough and there is always a line of taco hounds on Lincoln.

It's always the same - two asada tacos, two carnitas tacos, two ceviche. Seven bucks for the whole deal (no drink). The ceviche comes with two regulation fried torillas for scooping.

A lot people lack the huevos to eat truck ceviche in any form at any location. Some of the more courageous truck reviewers have paid a heavy price when sampling truck seafood. We've done this run 15 or 20 times and have never gotten sick.
The tacos are standard issue truck tacos. Quality is very high. No nasty stuff in the asada and the carnitas are first class. La Playita is a full menu truck with all the "exotics" buche etc. We stay away from the connective tissues and the organ meats so you are on your own in this area.

Final pix here shows two of these puppies ready for consumption. $1.35 a shot and nothing more to add but the call for dos mas.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Finding good BBQ has always been a challenge here in LA. There have been some good finds. The Rib Nest, the long lost and much lamented "Pig" on La Brea, the hard to find "Spring Street Smokehouse" down near Philppes. Baby Blue is a popular Venice hang out but their sides are a bit fancy for our taste. At present the current gold standard is the absolutely fantastic "Johnny Rebs" in Long Beach - but that's a long haul for pork.

We were coming back from another - yes 4 times in 5 days - Taco Mexico run when Mom's pops up on the radar. Set back in a strip mall near Hazeltine and Van Owen. We made it there today.

Here the crew is sizing up the offerings. This is a full boat BBQ operation. Pork, beef, chicken and fried fish with the usual sides.

NA went for the pork slice sandwich with a mac and cheese side. Excellent.

HD and RD went for the beef ribs - $10 and change gets you 3 monster ribs, two sides, some sliced white bread and a drink.

I went for the pork ribs. But the picture from my cheap Iphone knockoff was awful.

Ok - all restraint is lost - Mom's is the best BBQ place in LA. J Reb is still my favorite for chicken and pulled pork - but Mom blows away every rib place in town. And I bet the chicken and fried catfish are world class too.

Guess the "yeah it's good but Maurice's Piggie Park in West Columbia SC is the real thing". days are gone for good. Sorry Maurice.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mercardo Buenos Aires

Every now and then you run across a place like this. "Bay Cities" in Santa Monica, "Taco Miendo" and the fabulous "Aljeos" in Venice come to mind. Typically family owned and run - and it shows. Our friends from Argentina have been raving about this place for weeks now. So we go...

About 25 of us showed up - here is a rare picture with actual faces revealed. We generally do not publish recognizable images to be assured that we don't get any special treatment as known reviewers. We must remain independent even if it means having to go full fare.

We open with the empanadas - very tasty - light weight - not greasy at all. We did the meat and spinach and both were very good.

NA went full boat on the melanesa - check out the double barreled fried egg topping. Not for the faint of heart.

The ticket here are the combo meat platters. We show both in all their meaty glory. We got both varieties the sausage one and the other with ribs etc. Both were killer. Dos Mas all the way - but they leave no room for Dos Mas. One tray serves 3. And it's all good.

MBA is open until 10 Fridays and Saturdays. Sepulveda and Saticoy in Van Nuys. This is one of those places you wanna tell people "JUST GO". To be included with the likes of Tacos Por Favor, Taco Miendo, Beer and Salsa and Aljeos is high praise indeed and well deserved. I suspect the flank steak may even rival the best offerings of Monty's or the legendary "Chez Jay" pepper steak near the Rand Corp in Santa Monica. A great find thanks to our friends from Argentina.


Ahh Panos - one of the first places we went after I came on board. Not much to say other than it is fully sanctioned. Not even sure of the address. It's a typical Valley Srip Mall place - been there since 1962 and quite reliable.

We generally go for the standard gyros/fries/soft drink combo. Comes in around $7 bucks ( #2 on the white board by the order window ).

Ahh the treasure is revealed.

We go here about every two weeks or so. Never a let down, the same guy's always at the counter, the same guy is always at the grill, the food is always the same. Good quality, good quantity and it's not too far from the studio.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taco Mexico

Yesterday NA and I got the urge to revisit Taco Zorro. We ran into a bunch of traffic on our way up towards Sherman Way and did a detour. We ended up on Van Nuys Blvd. Hanging at another jammed stoplight we decided to take a chance with an taco shop set in an old Arbys building.

Fortune favors the bold.

So today is another day. We return for dos mas. RD joins the crew and we double down with a burrito and two plates of four of Taco Mexico's best.
NA beholds the joy he has found. He went burrito.
Programmers are a jaded bunch when it comes to fast food. We eat a lot of stuff most of it of questionable benefit to our future health. So what? When confronted with the unbounded joy of a great tacos find commitments must be made. The little guys are $1.05 a shot. We get 4 a pass and could do more. First day we did trips - carnitas, al Pastor and asda. Second pass the marginal al Pastor was bumped and replaced with another carnitas. The carnitas is not the crispy joy we find at Salsa and Beer over on White Oak. Not to say they are not good it's hard to beat theS&B carntias taco. The Taco Mexico asada meat is first rate, crispy no funny stuff.

The place is light on salsa, no chips, no beans just great tacos on a cheap paper plate and huge drinks, 32 oz monsters I figure.

Bottom line - one of the best truck tacos you'll ever get sans truck. At $1.05 a taco you wanna get lots and lots of them and toss them down like potato chips.

Next - if we can manage to drive by Taco Mexico without stopping, we may hit the Taco Zorro across Sherman Way. Keep watching.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Burned Out and Hungry

Ahh Saturday, late August and a beautiful day. Just the right time for a run to the Venice Boardwalk for a Jodi Maroni quality sausage. Walk down Windward to the boardwalk - turn left when you get to the big flagpoles. Walk south past muscle beach and the paddle tennis courts. If you pass Venice Blvd you have gone to far.

Here is the spot - been here for years. I think this is the original. There is another over at the Howard Hughes center near the 405 near the Vivendi Universal Offices.

Fullup custom made - I got the Cubana - very spicy - rice and plantains.

Ok - I'll say it - best fries in town. I know Barney's has good fries but these are better.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do'in the dog

Bandini is wagging the Taco Gator and Taco Gator don't mind a bit. After two years of no output the Taco Gator has a bit of catching up to do.

We went over to Culver City near Helm's bakery (Helms between Venice and Washington). to try the dog Friday night and the Frank was gone. Today we asked him where he was. He said he hangs out on Abbot Kinney Friday evenings he said. Take note.

We went tried again Sunday and got lucky. The dogs are fantastic - plus they carry a wide selection of specialty soft drinks.

The dog is almost $5 and the drinks are up there too but if you want something special it's a great place to go.

Possibly the best dog in town.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taco Zorro

NA and I followed Bandini's recommend on a taco place on Sherman Way near Coldwater. Taco Zorro.

We had a hard time finding it, the street address was way off and we don't really remember where it is.

By the time we got there taco hunger had taken over and I was so overwhelmed that no exterior shot was taken.

Standard test is an asada and a al pastor or carnitas taco. The asada was the bite we were looking for up there with the better efforts. If "Tacos Por Favor" is the gold standard with a 5, I rate this asada around a 3.5 The al pastor was an off season variant that did not satisfy - sorry guys but the la Playita truck on Glencoe just blows the rest of you guys away. I'd crawl on my knees over broken glass for the la Playita al Pastor. Thes salsa was excellent but the chip count was a bit light.

Fully stocked drink box with all our favorite Mexican soft drinks including the mandatroy Jarritos and the hiecho in Mexico cokes.

All in all a "dos mas" place. We'll be back. We saw some burritios being put together that looked quite promising.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fantastic Poblanas

Ok here we are again - this time a Poblanas place on Victory about two blocks east of Sepulvenda. The place is small - 4 small booths inside and some white pvc patio furniture out on the sidewalk in front.

Nice people here, family run and the family cares.

The menu has some "exotics" as we like to call them. I'll leave aspect that to your imagination.

This gives you a hint of the mint.

The product with the string cheese option. Have mercy.

Since the place is small and the AC is not so good we almost always take um back to the office. Here one of the crew rips into a fine example of Valley Mexican at its best.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring - after two days running on the Mexican side we'll probably move on to something else. There is a great Thai place between the strippers supply store and the Spearmint Rhino Gentleman's club a little further east on Victory, just across from the cement plant.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day One High Grade Mex on White Oak and Vanowen

Today we went to Salsa and Beer on the corner of White Oak and Vanowen in the San Fernando Valley.

Our friends from Argentina alerted us to this place, we went there a few weeks ago and it was a powerful moment. Everything is outstanding, the bean dip is fantastic and the seafood is as good as Cabo's. Enough talk here are the pix...

Very colorful and popular with the locals.

NA got the fish tacos, most excellent. Real fish too. It slows down the order, we think they cook these to order.

Next up comes the Asada - RD and HD did some serious work on these. Huge portions of the highest grade.

RC went out of band with the nachos plate. Amazing presentation, the guac here is first rate, but we keep scraping the bottom of those bean dip bowls and asking for more.

Finally their "wet burrito". I prefer dry but this is how they do it. No black beans offered, you either go pinto or none. Pintos are a serious challenge to my overloaded digestive system so I go sans.

No fooling around - if you want a wet burrito - this is the wet burrito you want.

So that's it for today - check back in tomorrow for more valley lunch adventures.

Sunday, January 11, 2009