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El Borrego de Oro - get your goat on!


Restaurants & Bars 16

El Borrego de Oro - get your goat on!

degustateur | Feb 2, 2009 03:20 PM

El Borrego de Oro, which means “The Golden Sheep”, sits rather unassumingly in little strip mall on the northeast corner of Soto and Whittier Blvd. in East LA, directly across from the landmark Carnitas Michoacán. The small, family-owned restaurant specializes in Barbacoa estillo Hidalgo, that is, freshly slaughtered lamb, slow-cooked with hardwoods and mesquite for 8-10 hours in a pit built into the ground, covered with Maguey leaves then buried-over with dirt (see website video). The result is a wonderfully delicious, mouth-wateringly tender Barbacoa possessing a subtle, unique flavor that is almost intoxicating as it sends your culinary senses reeling. Other traditional Mexican fare is on the menu but the Barbacoa is served up fresh on Saturday and Sunday only.

Upon my Saturday morning arrival, the tiny restaurant was packed to the gills, including a sole Mariachi making his rounds. To-go service was very prompt and efficient. A couple of pounds of regular Barbacoa and a pound each of the red and the green chile Pancita (stomach and internal organs) along with rice, beans, fresh handmade tortillas, salsas, onions, cilantro and horchata and I was set to impress.

The Barbacoa was phenomenal, consisting of various cuts of meat from the ribs, legs, shoulder and head. Each cut retained its own character and flavor, some lean, some fattier, a bit of crust here and there. The flavor was mild with barely a hint of smoke or spice. That, by tradition, is how it should be. Spices/salsas are added upon eating. Truly, food for the gods.

The red chile Pancita was cooked in a plain yet rich chile paste, spicy with just enough heat not to overwhelm. The green chile version was akin to a spicy tomatillo with onions, cilantro and other spices. Hands down my favorite. Degustatory delight!

The rice was excellent, a loose grain cooked to perfection with just a few peas and carrots for added flavor. Beans were cooked and refried with Manteca (lard) for that fabulous fat flavor. Yes indeed, that’s how we like ‘em.

The salsas were absolutely outstanding, some of the best ever, a deep dark chile rojo and a zesty chile verde. I have tough time deciding which I prefer. I probably tend toward the rojo since I virtually drank a couple of ounces of it straight. Delish!

The handmade tortillas and accompaniments were fresh and excellent as was the horchata. Service was first-rate. Fast, friendly and with a bit of due humor given my first, but certainly not my last, visit. Well worth the 50+ mile round trip drive.

Overall, I’d say that the folks at El Borrego de Oro are masters at what they do. If you like lamb, goat, mutton and/or Barbacoa, run, don’t walk on down and pick some up or eat in. They have two locations, less than a mile apart. I was told by the manager, a really cool guy, that the Washington location is larger with better parking.

What a find!

Here’s the link to their website:

El Borrego de Oro #1
2403 Whittier Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 780-4213

El Borrego de Oro #1
2808 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
(323) 780-1132

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