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calabeza | Aug 21, 2004 09:21 PM

For quite a few years, I have been searching for the perfect bowl of menudo in Los Angeles. Or, the second-best. You see, the best bowl, of course, was made by my grandmother most Saturdays and consumed on Sunday morning with fresh tortillas, homemade chili sauce and home-dried oregano.

I am a bit partial to menudo that includes corn in it, which can be a challenge. A lot of menudo at restaurants tends to be a bit weak or overly salty, or too stomachy. I grew up with menudo as a kid, so I did not acclimate to it as an adult chasing off a hangover, though quite a few restaurants seem to throw in too much spiciness to attract the Sunday morning crowd.

I am looking for a deep red chile broth with a complex, somewhat (but not too) salty base, some good cooked cilantro, good and generous amounts of corn (out of can is ok, but homemade can be out of this world), and fresh honeycombed panza. I do not need a pata (hoof) in the bowl, nor should it be too gelatinous.

I have tried a number of places in NE L.A. and E. L.A. from the Santa Fe Tortillera on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park to the IHOP on Figueroa in Highland Park (maybe one of the only IHOPs in the country that serves cow stomach and hooves-now THAT it an international menu). So far, Hurache Azteca on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park has the best broth, but the menudo does not come with corn.

I am curious for folks' best recommendations and reasons why. In the meantime, I will keep looking.

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