I heart LA

it’s true

Most of you know now much i love the west coast and LA. Here’s one more reason: they have the best Mexican food this side of the border. wish i was there right now to celebrate cinco de mayo, but alas…i am not. so nyc will do. here’s my top 5 favorite lil’ mexican joints:

1. Right in The Heights, Chavella’s is my go-to for sopas and tacos. it’s great, simple mexican food and it’s so cheap, it’s basically free. I can’t get enough of their chicken tortilla soup, it’s so spicy but they add lemon to it which balances the heat of the chilies nicely. ooof! can’t wait to get some later.

2. I think I already said enough about San Loco below…te amo.

3. When I used to work at Big Red, I’d go to Tehuitzingo, it’s a tiny mexican grocery store that you would totally ignore, but shouldn’t. in the back there is a tiny kitchen, a few stools, and the best (seriously) tacos i’ve ever had in nyc. there is something about the way the Corona-logo’d decor, christmas lights and bar stools work to convince you that you are in fact, in Mexico. Tehuitzingo is the only reason one should ever venture to midtown. ever.

4. an ode to my favorite summer drink…the michelada. The one at
Florencia 13 is the most rockin’ one i’ve had – other than the ones in me-he-co of course. I love this drink so much that i even had a Michelada party a few years ago in honor of this yummy beverage. the michelada is a refreshing, light beer cocktail – sort of like a bloody mary/beer but a lot better. you mix equal parts of hot sauce (my fave is Cholula, which you can get at most grocery stores), worcestershire sauce and maggie seasoning with the juice of one lime…rim the cup with salt…add the mix and a light mexican beer (tecate or sol) and you’ve got a light and refreshing summer cocktail – perfect for those all day bbq’s.

5. An new-ish old standby, La Esquina rounds out my top 5. I come here when I need my taco and horchata fix for lunch. I love how summery and California it feels to order your tacos from a stand on the street (RIP Snack Dragon) and the women behind the counter are always nice, friendly and fun. I’ve tried to make horchata that tastes like the one at La Esquina to unsuccessful results. making horchata, is basically making milk from cinnamon, rice, almond and vanilla , is a very time consuming but rewarding process. I used this recipe below from Gale Gand. It tasted pretty good and it made my kitchen smell amazing.

Viva Mexico…and LA.

Adapted from Gale Gand

1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups almonds, skins removed
2-inch piece of cinnamon bark
7 cups of water
3/4 cups of sugar
1 vanilla bean

Grind the rice into a fine powder (a coffee grinder works perfectly). Remove the skins of the almonds by blanching them in boiling water: Drop the almonds in boiling water, scoop them out after about 30 seconds, and after they have cooled, the almonds should squirt right out of their skins when pressed between thumb and forefinger. Combine the ground rice, blanched almonds, cinnamon, and the seeds that have been scraped out of one vanilla bean, with 3 1/2 cups of water and let sit overnight, covered.

The next day, pour the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth, adding the sugar and an additional 2 1/2 cups of water. Strain the Horchata using a strainer and cheesecloth. There will be a lot of solids. Press them against the cheesecloth-lined strainer to get out all of the liquid, but don’t stop there. Pick up the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeeze out every last drop with your hands. The final step is to add additional water to thin out the drink. The original recipe called for 2 cups, but I added only one. I liked the concentrated flavor, and I didn’t want it to be too diluted.

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