for April, 2011
Ever since my Flor de Michoacan paleta post, I’ve gotten a ton of requests for more Tulum restaurant tips. Instead of writing a bunch of emails, I decided to make a little eating guide with some food photos I took when I visited the small Mexican beach town last Christmas. For part 1, I’ve included all the places I love in the puebla (as opposed to the beach).
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have Tulum food advice, help a fellow traveler and write it in the comments.
El Tacoqueto, Av. Tulum (it’s a red building with a thatched roof)
Popular with locals, El Tacoqueto is a place we always make sure to visit every time we’re in Tulum. This little red, thatched-roof restaurant is located on the main drag and offers some of the best “home-cooked” food in town at great prices—two people can eat for about $10. When you walk in, you’ll see a big, open kitchen, where women reside over large stainless steel pots of soups and stews. There’s no menu, so just walk up to the kitchen and take a look before you order. The mole is great (pictured at the top of this post), the soups never miss, and sometimes they even have chile rellenos.
In every life, there comes a moment when you must make a choice. Recently, this moment came for me. I couldn’t waffle, I couldn’t equivocate—I had to declare…my favorite carnitas. Luckily, I had a team, a Taco Task Force if you will, to help me navigate the meaty jungles of this town and cut through the pork.
The Taco Task Force’s previous missions have included finding the best fish taco, potato taco and birria in town. I was lucky enough to be drafted for the most recent TTF to crown the best carnitas. The tasters for this outing included founder Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA), Josh Lurie (Food GPS), Matthew Kang (Mattatouille), Zach Brooks (Midtown Lunch), Dave Lieberman (OC Weekly) and his wife Linnea.
A word about carnitas: I learned that most carnitas you find in LA are boiled and then fried in lard. This is cheating and the reason why carnitas often have a hard (sometimes to the point of petrification) and stringy texture. It’s definitely the reason why I’ve never been a big fan—in their usual state, they’re almost oppressive. Ideally, they should be slow cooked in their own juices in a cazo (copper or stainless steel pot).
The scoring: To make the comparison as fair as possible, we ordered a taco surtido, a mix of various pig parts, at each location. Each taco was judged on Grade of Key Ingredient, Condiment/Tortilla, Overall Flavor and Cooking to determine a final score. Catagories were scored with a 1 to 5 scale, 5 being the best.
The contenders: Some of carnitas destinations were chosen by popularity and buzz, but there were also some less established places here that specialize in carnitas.
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the good news: you have something really fun to do on May 15. The sad part is that I won’t be there because I’ll be on vacation. I know, I know, but you must soldier on, my friends. Food awaits!
Taste of the Eastside is a community food event, featuring some of your favorite local spots, including Eagle Rock Brewery, Silverlake Wine, Intelligentsia Coffee, Malo’s of Silverlake, Auntie Em’s, Forage, Cookbook, Elf, and Hugo’s Tacos. KCRW’s Garth Trinidad will be spinning and local authors will be on hand signing books.
Proceeds go to SEE-LA, which aims to increase community access to nutrition, support sustainable food choices and create jobs, Children’s Hospital of LA, Barnsdall Art Park, and Rose Scharlin Co-op Nursery.
Sounds like a great time! I’m sad to miss it.
Taste of the Eastside 2011
Food | Wine | Beer | Music
Sunday, May 15, 2011 from 1 – 5 pm
Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
$25 General Admission | $65 VIP
$5 kids ages 2-12 | 2 & under FREE
UPDATE: BOMB! Salads is now BOMB! Foods, but you can still find them in the Silver Lake Farmers’ Market.
When Rowan Moore Gerety wrote me, he had two questions: a.) had I tried Tacos La Fonda in Glassel Park and b.) did I know about his salad stall at the Silver Lake Farmers’ Market. The answer to both questions was no, but I was easily lured by his description of BOMB! Salads—fresh salads made to order with produce purchased on the spot.
Sign me up.
Every Saturday until 2pm, Gerety and his business partner, Jesse, (who’s taking over while Gerety is away on assignment in Mozambique) whip up salads, soups and mashed potatoes from scratch. The menu and ingredients change depending on what’s in available at the market. On my visit, I tried two salads: one with chopped broccoli, julienned apples and cilantro (pictured above) and another with curly kale, gold beet, dandelion and cucumbers. Both were really delicious with a light dressing of sunflower with lemon and yellow mustard on the kale and green pea and peppercorn on the broccoli salad. The crunch factor of both salads (super fresh!) was a plus, and the plate-sized portions were a fair deal for $6.
I’ve been without a kitchen for two months now thanks to a remodel. And, while of course I’m looking forward to a beautiful new space, the process is slow, and our cooking situation is pretty desperate—no stove, no microwave, no sink. We’re down to a fridge and toaster oven, which makes nightly meals a huge hassle. Eating out every night lost its luster after about two weeks, and toasting for two isn’t as glamorous as it sounds.
Enter our culinary savior: Super King Market. The Glassell Park location of this small grocery chain, specializing in ethnic foods (specifically Armenian and Mexican in this locale) has been saving us from a fate of frozen pizzas for a few weeks now. Super King’s service deli is filled with all the fixings for a nightly mezze feast, including a top-notch selection of hard-to-find cheeses—I recommend the pungent and creamy Bulgarian Feta—and olives. I’m also partial to their dips, especially the jajukh (cucumber-yogurt dip), garlic spread and muhammara, a thick and smoky concoction of roasted red peppers, bread crumbs, walnuts, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.