Sunday, November 15, 2009
CLOSED.Antojitos de la Abuelita:Straight Outta Neza
Due to the strict letter grading system implemented this past year for trucks, La Abuelita closed in 2011 and will reopen when they are able to acquire a brick and mortar.
You may have noticed the food trailer parked on Vineland in North Hollywood in the last couple of months or so.This part of Vineland lies a few blocks south of Victory Bl., more related to the sketchy credit car dealerships that never seem to be open, and shoddy looking automotive enterprises of the the area surrounding the west side of the Burbank Airport.
In a mini strip mall across from buzzing power lines are three shops, a sign store, a party supply store, and a beauty salon. The owners, a family from Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl(fasting coyote in the nahautl language), a city in the state of Mexico, just outside Mexico City.It's referred to by locals simply as Ciudad Neza.
Neza has a bad reputation in the news, but its reputation of rampant crime is sensationalized much in the same way parts of East Los Angeles and South Central are portrayed. But, saying you're from Neza carries the same sense of pride that an Angelino might have coming from Compton or South Gate.These are great communities that have their challenges, but those who make it may feel an extra sense of accomplishment.
Antojitos de la Abuelita is run by a husband and wife team, along with family members, including la abuelita. They do the cuisine of Mexico City, so many seem to be popping up in recent years, but there's something else going on here.
They set up a tent and tables in the parking lot of their businesses providing the type of weekend mobile service you find in Mexico City. An outdoor sit down food truck, or rather a trailer.Their menu has the usual DF style snacks:pambazos, huaraches, and sopes, but their menu also includes other genuine DF street food items that make this restaurant a contender for the best DF style restaurant in town.
They offer different aguas frescas each day, chilled in jars at the condiment table.Horchata, jamaica, tamarindo, watermelon, or whatever is fresh that day.
Their tacos are excellent even though they are overshadowed by other menu offerings. The cooking of meats here are deft in flavor and texture. On weekends they do barbacoa cooked in maguey spines, moist and elegant flavors of mutton. You can get it with consome, but the taco by itself is a stand alone food.
The cilantro and onions cut fresh to your order by the three women working in the kitchen, tangy tomatillo salsa pairs brilliantly with gamey mutton.
The guajillo chile dipped and fried roll stuffed with chorizo and potatoes known as the pambazo is one of the best in the city.It's not quite the edgy version done by Nina's from Breed St., but neither does it shy away from the messy street food sandwich that it is.
This is also another kitchen within a kitchen of street soups. They serve menudo, which is mostly eaten from street stands on benches in Mexico, red pozole, and caldo de gallina.
All soups are made from scratch and from quality ingredients.The pozole has nice flavor, and can be had with chicken, pork,or both. This was the least interesting of the three, only because it was a little too salty, but still a solid pozole.
The real stars here are the menudo and caldo de gallina(hen soup).The menudo comes with a nice pata(foot), a prized item for the menudo lover.
This is a sublime menudo served in a genuine curbside setting. On some days they hang some pinatas from the party supplies store for additional ambiance.
Caldo de gallina the most common soup served all over Mexico City, in fondas, street stands, moslty by specialists. This is a rarely served soup in LA, which is odd considering the increasing number of DF style establishments.
But of course, this place is called Antojitos de la Abuelita, and the antojitos are worth the trip alone. This is where most DF, of Chilango restaurants start and end here in town.
Typical guisados(stews or fillings)are delivered in the grilled quesadillas, huitlacoche(corn smut), flor de calabaza(squash blossom)with cheese,mushrooms with cheese. The huitlacoche here is outstanding.
Huaraches, the large sandal shaped sopes(masa boats) come with traditional asada, or lengua. These are among the best in town, I like the black bean filling of the huaraches at Don Huarache, but the meat is superior here at Antojitos. All meats are tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Tlayudas, the so called Oaxacan pizzas found at our many Oaxacan restaurants in LA, are brought to a new sensation at this restaurant. I've always found the meats to be less than delicate.The cecina, thin chile marinated pork leg, and tasajo, salted beef round, are supposed to be supple and full flavored. The chubby Oaxacan pork chorizo is sometimes quite ordinary,pourly sourced by uninspired owners.
Here at Antojitos del la Abuela you will find arguably the most satisfying tlayuda, also spelled clayuda, in Los Angeles. The cecina, tasajo, and chorizo are delicious, their presence are revelatory as flvor components rather than filler.These are big enough to share, so grab one to go and pick up a six-pack of chelas(beers)for the perfect party snack.
The family isn't comfortable with pictures, they are very quiet and pleasant,but were concerned about why I was taking pictures. I had to get most of these items to go and photograph them at home or in my car, but this place is too good to keep a secret.
All their food is made to order, three reserved women with serious execution assembling street food master works.
This is the most serious Mexican kitchen in the Valley, and one of the deepest trucks in LA.
Antojitos de la Abuelita
6135 Vineland Ave.(parked in front of Party Supply)
North Hollywood, CA
Wednesdays through Friday around 5PM 'til 9PM
Saturdays and Sundays 8AM to 10PM
barbacoa, caldo de gallina, menudo,and pozole are weekends only.