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In the past dozen years or so, L.A. has become a world center of regional Mexican cuisine. Still, for some reason, restaurants serving the food of the Distrito Federal, the region encompassing Mexico City, have been rare around here until recently. Blasting down East Olympic the other day, looking for a taqueria to replace a favorite Guadalajaran joint that had recently become part of a mediocre chain, I ran across a restaurant advertising Antojitos del D.F. in 2-foot-high letters. Is the restaurant actually called Antojitos del D.F.? I don't know. The credit-card receipts read Las Palmas, and the waitresses tend to answer with a shrug. But antojitos del D.F. are what it serves: leathery quesadillas folded over a stew of squash blossoms thickened with melted cheese; huge, plate-flat huaraches stuffed with puréed beans and topped with cream, shredded lettuce, fresh cheese, and salty, carbonized nubs of marinated pork; and the crisp chorizo sandwiches called pambazos. Although the tacos and sopes tended not to be up to the level of the rest of the food, at least the tortillas were made to order.
Most Los Angeles Mexican restaurants once seemed to be more or less the same, bastions of enchilada dinners and soggy chiles rellenos, Mexican “pizza” and a carnitas plate if you were lucky. I once proposed a law that would revoke the alcohol... More »
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