Friday, October 27, 2006

Food Of The Gods: Loteria Grill, Farmer's Market

What can be said about the food at Loteria Grill that has not yet been said? Everyone in Los Angeles (and any self-respecting food fanatic outside of LA) has already heard the "oooohs" and "aaaaahs" emitted from the mouths lucky enough to have eaten a Loteria Grill taco (or burrito, or chilaquiles, for that matter). Located in The Farmer's Market at The Grove, it sits in the middle of other popular-but-not-even-as-awesome food stands that make up the market., I mean chips....

The Grove is basically a shopping mall- a collection of clothing stores like Banana Republic and awful chain restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory in front of which, inexplicably, there is always a mile-long line. It's an ok place to stroll around in good weather, but it does feel like an imitation city (which it basically is) and has a Knott's Berry Farm sort of vibe.

Chicken en mole & cochinita pibil tacos

On the same property is the Farmer's Market- a collection of food shops and stands and a very small vegetable/fruit stand which I suppose is the actual market. There are butchers and fish mongers amidst the French Crepe Company, a newer Brazilian churrasco counter which seems to be very popular and several burger joints. Walking around this place when you're hungry can be dangerous- everywhere you look, there's food. Funnel cakes here, pulled pork's a gallery of good (but bad) things to eat.

You know you want a close-up......

As much variety as The Farmer's Market offers, there is a bright beacon that outshines them all. No matter how many times I go to the Farmer's Market, no visit is complete without a taco from Loteria Grill. Yes, the $2.25 for one taco is practically quadruple the price of any taco I'd get in Highland Park (where I live) but the soft, thick corn tortillas topped with tender cochinita pibil and pickled red onions is worth every penny.

Poblano mashed potato & pibil.....

My sister and I went last weekend and parked ourselves at the counter. It works much like a sushi counter- flag down a chef, put an order in for a taco or two, eat, then think about ordering another and go ahead and order. Eat, order, eat, order...ok, I'm guessing you get the idea by now. We started with the chips and "salsa" which is a semi-chunky, mole-colored concoction packed with flavor in every drop. Sis got 2 tacos - the chicken en mole and a cochinita pibil. I also got the latter and a Rajas con papa taco- one of my all time faves. It's like the best mashed potatoes on earth- rich, slightly buttery and filled with smokey poblanos with just a touch of heat. Piled high on one of their beautiful corn tortillas and topped with salsa verde and queso fresco (what would we bloggers DO without these wikipedia links??!!!), it's the Food of the Gods. I could eat mounds of this stuff. In fact, I think I may forego the traditional Thanksgiving mashed potatoes one year and get a vat of this instead.

Rajas con papa- next Thanksgiving side dish?

A couple sitting next to us ordered 12 tacos of different varieties which whetted our appetites even more so we each got one more taco. My sis tried the world-famous shredded beef which she proclaimed as her new favorite taco. I went for a stewed-tomatoey-shredded-chicken taco (not the official name, I'm guessing) which was good but nowhere near the pibil or potato ones.

Please sir, may I have anotha?

As much as I wanted to order more, my stomach would not allow and we walked off, completely satisfied. I love sitting at the counter and watching the guys make the burritos, quesadillas, albondigas, enchiladas and other delights but it only makes me wish my stomach was three times the size it is. Who can resist such goodness?!

Loteria Grill
6333 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3109
(888) 783-2305


Chubbypanda said...

Oh, sweet lord! Tacos okonomi-style? Dare I dream the impossible dream?

- Chubbypanda

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Looks FANTASTIC!!!!!

Oishii Eats said...

Oooh...TAG does tacos. HAWT!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review...I had started to believe the revisionists on Loteria.

Time to return!