Intrigued by poster Ernie's suggestion to try Taco Village on the Montebello / East LA line, I ventured out that way....
There are always little pockets of LA that one hasn't yet been to, and for me, this was one of them. I exited at Garfield and drove up Beverly, and noticed the street was just lined with all kinds of interesting looking taco joints, culminating with the "king" taco joint, King Taco, at the 710. I had that urge I'm sure many have had when you want to sample each and every place, but know you don't have the appetite. So hard to decide.
I actually HAD been to this King Taco quite a few times, but I'd always visited and jumped right back on the freeway. I love King Taco, but I wanted to try something new. So I circled back, since I had apparently missed Taco Village. I finally spotted it on the right.
Inside was a very small, homey, and comforable place, with just one cashier and a hard-working guy behind the grill. It was 3pm but the place was fairly full with families and couples. I ordered what "Ernie" had suggested - carne asada burrito with beans. I was amazed once again by how everything is always two or three dollars cheaper once you leave the westside: with a Coke the total was $4.65.
The burrito was ready instantly, and was presented OPEN. I've never seen this before. You then took your burrito to the salsa bar and loaded up with onions, cilantro, salsas, etc. What a great idea - leaving your burrito open. There was plenty of extra tortilla flopping over the side to compensate for my poor tortilla folding abilities.
This burrito was perfection - lean, but flavorful meat. So often carne asada is overly dry, stringy, or gamey. This was wonderful, with fresh pinto beans included.
Though I was full, I just HAD to sample one more burrito along this street. My choice was back near King Taco: Lupe's.
This place is apparently run by Lupe herself, and is a lot like Yuca's Hut in terms of size, service, and the family-run feel. Of course, unlike Los Feliz, there are no hipsters to be found in these parts - a plus. Lupe's (it's called Lupe's #2, so I guess there is at least one more...) looks like Jay's Jayburger or Great White Hut Hamburger Stand in Glendale, with little stools surrounding a tiny open kitchen.
I ordered the combo beef and bean burrito with green chile. The beef turned out to be the big chunky kind, a la Tito's, but seemingly a little better quality (not knocking Tito's of course.) It came with plenty of stewed green peppers inside and the same kind of sauce as Chano's (near USC) delicious Combo burrito. As I continued to chew, the beef reminded me more and more of homemade beef stew. Not what I had expected, but excellent. This burrito featured refried beans, which are my personal favorite in the black/pinto/refried choice department.
Again, the price was right - under $5 for this burrito and a Coke. The Coke had that rare treat - perfectly crushed ice which provides a great texture when drunk without a straw. Crushed ice is definitely underrated, IMO.
This burrito tasted great even though I was already full. I made a note to return when ravenous and experience even more joy. A "Special Burrito" was listed on the menu, but wiithout explanation. What could it be? Next time......
I should mention that both burritos had the softest, freshest flour tortilllas, something that really adds to one's burrito experience.
I drove back to the 710 and tried to remember all the other places I'd seen and wanted to try on the next visit, and then thought.....I'm really close to Alhambra. The perfect follow-up to these spicy burritos would be a trip to Fosselman's. It was just a quick 10 minute drive and I was soon enjoying a dark chocolate sugar cone. (Yes, I'm tempted every time to try an exotic flavor like lychee, but I always chicken out!)
Anyhow, if you want to try some delicious burritos, head to Beverly Boulevard just east of the 710, and if you try any other worthy spots, report back!