I could maybe live in LA

by

Driving my rental car out of Los Angeles International Airport, I felt for the first time that I might love LA.  The freeways were clear, the city lights shone like webs of jewels thrown over the hills, and the palm trees really were as high and skinny as they look on TV.  I turned the radio on loud, and even the music sounded less burdened, the same music that plays in NY.  I’d been to LA a dozen times before, but this was the first time I was driving in LA.  I could have driven all night.

I wasn’t in LA to eat.  I flew in late Friday night, went to a wedding Saturday night, and flew out Sunday early afternoon.  I stayed with an old friend, visited an even older friend Sunday morning and played with her new baby.

But I did manage to eat some LA food.  None of the crazy new places people line up to try, in fact, I’m not sure if any of the places I ate are actually famous, but they had food that tasted like the LA that appeals to me most, as easygoing as the first fast-food hamburger slapped on the grill.

A plate of huevos rancheros at La Abeja, with Mexican murals on the outside and Three Stooges bobblehead kitsch on the inside.

A donut and coffee in a styrofoam cup at Bob’s Donuts at the “Farmers’ Market” at the Grove, which doesn’t feel so much like a farmers’ market as an old-school market of food stalls selling food that was most popular in LA 50 years ago, with one exception: Pinkberry.

The coffee plus donut cost $2.30.  $2.30!  I have been living in NY way too long.

A taco de lengua and a burrito de carne asada at King Taco on my way to the airport.  I wolfed down the burrito at the stop for the shuttle to the airport.  I desperately regretted being too cheap to buy a drink—the hot sauce almost killed me.  It was nothing like the Cal-Mex burritos of San Francisco.  No cheese, no sour cream, no guacamole.  But lots of rich, spicy spicy spicy sauce.  I’m not surprised my friend Angela pointed me there.  She would paint her tongue with Tabasco if she could.

I want to come back soon, to drive and drive and drive, and eat tacos in between.

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10 Responses to “I could maybe live in LA”

  1. Isaac Says:

    Dang, Grace. It says a lot about my background, I think, that this post made me hungrier than almost any of your previous posts. I miss tacos!

  2. Diane Says:

    Awg, I could feel my own stomach burning from your description of the spicy sauce in your King Taco burrito and taco. Painful and tasty at the same time…

  3. Grace Says:

    Isaac, I feel your pain! There are tacos in NY, though nothing like California and Texas, I’m sure. You should come down and we’ll go on a taco crawl through Queens!

  4. lina Says:

    ha! i went to king taco with ang, roger and jj.

  5. Grace Says:

    She told me her favorite is this taco truck but it only comes out at night!

  6. Anna Says:

    LA is a great eating town– particularly at the “low” end rather than “high” end– there’s no doubt about it. Best tacos I’ve ever had were at Los Cinqos Puntos in East LA. Best tacos I ever had in NY were in Sunset Park while picking up my car from a repair place, but it says something that I can’t recall them in detail.

    I’ll move to LA if you will!

  7. Grace Says:

    Oh Anna, I’m so honored that you would consider moving back there if I move there!

  8. Andrew R. Says:

    Ms. Meng — delighted to read your post, the Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite former hangouts. The Brazilian beef place there is excellent, if overpriced. Same for the Israeli place. There is also mediocre pizza next to the donuts place with photos of Sinatra, who apparently frequented the Italian restaurant once run by the pizza guy’s family. I agree with Anna that East L.A. is on another level for Mexican food. That said, the Mexican place in the Farmer’s Market is incredible for mole-based burritos — oh my! As you observe, Bay Area Mexican food is not in the same league. Also, the outdoor bars there are wonderful for a laid-back beer or glass of wine.

  9. Grace Says:

    I should gotten some tips before I went! Rockridge is definitely pretty far from east LA 🙂 I hope you are still getting mileage out of your LA duds!

  10. angela Says:

    HAHAHAHA!

    omg, i forgot to tell about the spicy sauce! LOL 🙂

    next time, you have to try this taco truck! it’s not those korean-mexican tacos that are a fad right now. it’s really authentic and instead of hot sauce on their tacos you can get an optional side of pickled habaneros & onions. so YUMMY~

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