Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Breed St.-The Mexican food street scene in Los Angeles

Quesadilla preparada of corn fungus

Nina and her crew taking orders

The pambazo with a salsa of seeds

cochinta, huevo con chorizo, and guisado de chicharron from la veracruzana

Nina(on the far right), and her family

In November of 2007 while wandering through Boyle Heights and East L.A, as I often do browsing the rich food scene for something new, I came across a scene straight out of Mexico.A street food scene just like the kinds that erect themselves all over Mexico in and outside "Ferias"(fairs)and the many "glorietas"(public squares) celebrating the heroes of Mexico.We have street food in L.A., but it usually consists of cloying tacos and uninspired bacon-wrapped hotdogs.No matter what city you find yourself throughout Mexico, the nights bring forth a panoply of lucious street foods.

Mexico has many regional foods available during the day, but at night along the "malecones"(seawalls), "plazas", streets,parks:tacos,sopes,huaraches,tortas,hot dogs wrapped in bacon, tortas, tacos al vapor, tacos dorados, carne asada(best in Sonora) , pozole, nopales, pollo asado,pambazos,members of the sopes family,vampiros, gringas,etc.I remember arriving late one night to Campeche asking around for mariscos only to strike out as all the stands were closed.That's right, certain foods like the seafood,barbacoa, and birria start at the crack of dawn and head home in the afternoon.The grill and comfort food "puestos"(stands) come out at night and fill the air with their smoky, mouthwatering scents wafting throughout the streets of Mexico.

When I arrived at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Breed where the Big Buy Foods market lies in Boyle Heights all my longings had been fulfilled. Nina's catering,located in the Bank of America parking lot , with their sopes, huaraches, gorditas, quesadillas preparadas, tostadas, flautas, and pambazos.Classic fillings cooked to perfection such as hongos(mushrooms), papa con chorizo(potato with chorizo), tinga, carne asada,flor de calabaza(squash blossoms),huitlacoche(corn fungus),and pollo.This stand has the best salsas on the street including a salsa de semillas consisting of pumpkin seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds,chile de arbol, and a little bit of peanut oil.Que rico!! With some free nopales and pickled red onions with habaneros on the side, Nina's can't be outdone.on the sidewalk opposite Nina's a quiet woman from Veracruz serves the kind of tacos you would find in homes in Mexico and from street vendors in Mexico City selling tacos de guisado(tacos of stews): cochinita, huevo con arroz(rice and hard boiled egg),bistec con papas(steak and potatoes), guisado de chicharrones(pork skin in a green sauce), or whatever she feels like bringing that day.She also has a tender cecina, but that rice with hard-boiled egg taco is a hug from grandma.

Next to la veracruzana under a blue umbrella as you head south on Breed St., is the delicious pozole stand, with the red and white varieties.They also serve up a formidable tostada of cueritos(pig skin).Pure heaven!!The chef assembles her pozole, the stock with hominy and chicken, then the meats-"que quieres de carne, mijo"(what meats do you want, son), oh, a little of everything please.Carnitas, cueritos,patas,etc.If you ordered white she executes the handoff,if you ordered the red she adds the red sauce flavored by mild and delectable California Chiles. Now, it's your turn! A little cabbage, lime, diced onion, crumbled chile de arbol, radishes, salsa and you are ready to go.This pozole may be the best in the city! Next a simple taco stand, an out of place pupusa vendor, some candies and botanas(snacks) along with the ubiquitous pirate DVD guys.The competing sopes and more stand to Nina's on the other side of the street flanked by a mariscos truck that packs up earlier than the rest.On a recent visit I had a caramel crepe from a newcomer to Breed St. and also a tamale vendor with pork, chicken and cheese tamales to go with a homemade champurrado.

Not far away near the churros heading north on Breed is a Hidalgo style barbacoa cart. These gentlemen pit roast the lamb in their backyards. The regular barbacoa is among the best you'll find here in LA. I would pass on the pancita, it's not easy to make this properly, and it's not their srongest skill.Have some lamb consome to dip your tacos of barbacoa, it's on the house.

You never know what you will find on Breed St, it's a living entity constantly moving and changing.I still keep hoping for that one lady to show up who was selling her original churros filled with flan.The crepe stand also does ricos hotcakes(street pancakes), another late night option you'll find in Mexico.Breed St. is a Los Angeles treasure, where the spirit of Mexico has found a place in our own backyard. The traditions of family and great food will fill you with comfort and indulgence.A great way to pass an evening in Los Angeles.

So, come on out to this "feria" in Boyle Heights, Thurdays through Sunday starting at 7PM and finishing up around 10 or so.You'll be glad you did.Provecho!!
Breed St.
located on Breed at Cesar Chavez in Boyle Heights, just two blocks east of La Parrilla.
7PM -10PM???
Thursday through Sunday


Anonymous said...
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gourmetpigs said...

I'll be checking this out tonight :) (late on the bandwagon, I know ...)
Reading your reviews+seeing photos I'm very much looking forward to it!

and thanks again for all Sao Paulo recs!

streetgourmetla said...

burumun,you're welcome.Glad you enjoyed Sampa!! Let me know how your Breed St. experience was.