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Ten years ago I stood in line for an hour to get a taste of the elusive Kogi truck menu because they ran out of food! It was worth the wait as you can read from my first blog post about them. As the saying goes, things have come a long way in 10 years 🙂

Kogi Taqueria is a brick and mortar that not only has (nearly) unlimited food, but also parking (which is as elusive in Los Angeles as being able to drive over 50 mph on the 405 at 5pm during the week).

Their famous calamari taco is still only $4 and as delicious as it was a decade ago.

The OG Style Burrito for $7 is the king of Korean Mexican fusion at its best with enough umami and comfort food to make either culture happy and satiated.

 The kimchi quesdilla for $7 is a nice compliment to the

blackjack quesadilla for $8 that will have you switching bites between the two trying to decide which one you prefer.

The best part of living within driving distance of the brick and mortar kitchen is that you never have to decide between one or the other because everything on the menu is (probably) available and you can eat it all (or at least as much as you want)!

When the owner of Pikoh said they were going to open a new place with a new chef Alex Carrasco from Mexico City (but who has worked in many prestigious places around town) in the West Adams neighborhood called Bee Taqueria, I filed it into my “To Be Tried” list, and I am glad I did!

It is a welcome and very colorful addition to this up and coming neighborhood. Very casual, very unique, and very personable since the chef was both cooking and serving during the weekday afternoon.

The back patio portion is big enough to host a large function or be filled with food lovers on a sultry Southern California evening. They are beginning to host some taco omakase evenings, so I’m sure the place will be packed on those occasions.

I had to get a sampler of the tacos, which came with side beans, pickles, and consommé on hand made blue corn tortillas. Nothing on the menu is over $8 and they offer vegetarian options like beet for those who don’t want to partake of the beef, lamb, or pork that were all distinctly delicious in different ways. I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite, but because I am a lamb fan, I slightly preferred the Cordero BBQ.

They were out of the ceviche, but not the fried ceviche made with Sea Bass 🙂 The mix of the crunchy roasted corn nuts, sweet potato, and the acidic squeeze of lime juice, made this a lick the bowl kind of dish.

You order and pay at the window, and they *buzz* you when your order is ready for pickup. Come by before the buzz for this place created lines that will have people swarming!

A song may say that it never rains in Southern California, but there was a torrential rainstorm which not only soaked the dry landscape, but also chilled the temperatures enough that I caught a cold 😦 Since I was too sick to make my own chicken soup, I asked my local friends where I could get some and without hesitation, they said Brite Spot. A Mexican spot focused on seafood, for chicken soup?!?!? Yes, it turns out good cooks, cook well no matter what their specialty may be. Knowing I was too sick to eat there, I took my soup to go, but I was very impressed by the assortment of condiments on the tables and counter; when three of the choices are habanero based and all have been used, it’s a good sign!

My to go soup included a very nice baggy of limes, onions, and cilantro, all of which I added to my soup, along with my own garlic habanero sauce.

Their “medium” sized container of soup for $11 held nearly half a chicken, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, corn on the cob, fresh parsley and a clear broth.

A side of rice came with the soup, as well as a choice of tortillas for those who want starch with their soup. I added some of the rice to my soup.

And found there was enough for TWO meals. I also felt much better the next day, so I ate the even more flavorful leftovers for lunch.

Since they are famous for Mexican food, I went back for a lengua loaded taco and at $6 this was not only a full plate, but a full meal loaded with tender succulent morsels and topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.

I will be back for the whole flash fried fish….who wants to join me?

Coffee roasters usually serve better coffee than those who buy their beans already roasted; that is why I love The Conservatory in Culver City, and Jameson Brown, in Pasadena. Demitasse is now my go to spot on Wilshire mid-city, or Little Tokyo.

They stock some vegetarian friendly meals like rice stuffed grape leaves, quinoa salads, and flakey with butter pastries, so if you want a snack with your free wifi, you’ve got sweet and savory choices to either eat on the patio or take to go. I enjoyed the ham and cheese bite I chose to go with my cappuccino; it was tasty and filling enough to tide me over until dinner several hours later.

The menu at Mercado is based on the Mexican roots of chef José, so we started with the tacos pescado for $15, skillet seared white fish, Mexican slaw, avocado salsa, and chile de arbol aioli. Fresh clean flavors, but we found the homemade tortillas disappointing. The pickled vegetables were a welcome surprise, adding zest to the plate.

The enchiladas for $19 made with Mary’s free range chicken, Oaxacan mole, Mexican rice, queso fresco, crema fresca, red onions, and sesame seeds was beautifully presented, but we found it lacked enough character or depth of flavor to warrant ordering it again.

Our server said the carnitas for $25 are a crowd favorite and one bite of this tender Salmon Creek pork with guacamole, Yxta salsa brava and cauliflower with escabeche made me want another, and another, and another…This is a HUGE serving that could easily have served two, or you could take half of it home for another meal.

With a wide selection of drinks and tequila, and a happy hour M-F from 5-7pm, I’m planning to return to try more.

Like many people who never see things that are famous in the place where they live, until this year, I had never seen the Rose Parade live, nor gone to the Bradbury building. The first floor is open to the public, so next time you go the Grand Central market, walk across the street and take a look 🙂

The elevators still work!


 Even on a cloudy day, the skylights brighten up the center courtyard.


So many places to eat in Grand Central Market, so I stopped by La Tostadaria for a light and filling snack; they only take cash unless you buy more than $10 worth of food, so my octopus tostada just put me over the barrier.

As octopus tostadas go, this was the best I’ve ever eaten, with tender marinated octopus and fresh crunchy vegetables on top of a beautifully fresh tortilla. It was marked with two peppers indicating it was spicy, and halfway through eating I started blowing my nose and thanking my stars that I did not add any more of the habernero sauce that was available at the counter! I would gladly order this again, but with a cool fire dousing drink to go along with it….I must remember that here in LA a warning for spicy means business!

After three years in France, my first stop for Mexican food was my old favorite, Cacao (see my previous post here). A GIGANTIC serving of guacamole was conveniently served in a plastic container ready to cover and take home to go. The serving was easily enough for four people and although I didn’t have a ruler with me, I’m guessing it was 6″ in diameter and 2″ deep! The fresh home made chips had a nice spicy sprinkling if you didn’t want one of the two salsas, one spicy, one not.

Lovely touches like rosemary table water set this place apart from the plethora of other Mexican places in Los Angeles.

Mission Fig Mole Poblano with free range airline chicken breast, topped with homemade mole sauce, marcona almonds, and sesame seeds, side of calabacitas, a vegetable mix of zucchini, squash, corn, and tomato for $19.95 is a great choice if you have never had home made mole. The quality of the chicken breast was evident with every moist bite, and the portion was generous enough to feed 2 or one very hungry athlete.

I couldn’t decide whether I wanted my red snapper fish tacos fried or grilled so I got one of each for $3.95 each. The fried version used Alesmith brown beer batter, both topped with crema, cabbage, pico de gallo and salsa, and the grilled version was perfectly grilled. Even after eating both versions, I still would want both because I would have been unable to pick a favorite; it’s like trying to decide if you prefer regular bacon or billionaire’s bacon for your BLT 🙂

During lunch they offer a taco truck special of three tacos with a non alcoholic drink, rice and beans for $9.95. I chose the carne asada and adored the grilled scallions on the side as much as the classic asada.

Their menu encompasses all the classics, a few twists, like sea urchin, duck, and Korean style kalbi. There are several vegetarian options, and people come in just to buy their chips or get orders to go because quality and care are two  of the most important ingredients in any dish. Eagle Rock may be a bit of a trek for most Angelenos, but it’s closer than Mexico 🙂

Anyone who knows me at all, also knows that as a general rule, I do not eat Mexican or Chinese food. So even wonderful places for those types of cuisines will probably never make it onto my restaurant list, much less into my mouth. The old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, is my reason for shunning both; I grew up in a Chinese restaurant and I worked in a Mexican one (please don’t ask so I won’t have to tell).

For a Mexican place to even make it into a conversation with me about food is remarkable, but when TWO food connaisseurs tell me about the same place and rave about it, I will make the trek to Eagle Rock (a 20 mile drive) just to satisfy my curiosity and try the place. I am so very glad I did. Ca Cao is not only a restaurant, it’s a deli, so many of the items they serve are available for sale to take home, from the tortillas to the sauces and everything in between. You will want to do that because they make EVERYTHING here (yes, that includes the tortillas)!

The chips here are the BEST I have EVER eaten (having worked in a Mexican restaurant, this was the one smell I could never get out of my nostrils at the end of the night). Made fresh daily and sprinkled with a delectable seasoning, they were great without either accompanying (freshly made) sauce.

Ca Cao is famous for their mole and chocolate, so my friend ordered their mole fries for $4.95 that I guarantee will be unlike any french fry you have ever tasted. I did not care for the sweet smoky flavor, but would say that many people would (I just don’t care for sweet savory dishes in general).

The mesquite smoked Angus beef torta was only $9.50. Made with freshly baked rolls from the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery, beans, tres quesos (three cheeses), sauteed onions, tomatoes and jalapenos, this was the ultimate Mexican meat sandwich.

I had to order the sustainable white fish, seared with garlic infused Valle de Guadelupe olive oil, topped with avocado and charred spring onions, and served with cilantro lime rice and  pico de gallo for $14.95. This was the best fish I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant, including the fish I’ve eaten IN Mexico in Careyes (yes, I also lived and worked in Mexico for about a month, but that’s another don’t ask don’t tell story:) The plate was so big, I had to take half of it home, but it was just as delightful even reheated the next day as it was in the restaurant.

My friend somehow found room for dessert (she always does), so she got a nice ice cream sundae, drizzled with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with almonds and accompanied bu fried tortilla chips. It was the perfect ending to a meal which will remind me not to pre judge any place based on cuisine!

They have a marvelous happy hour menu Tuesday-Friday from 3:00-5:30 with tacos that are only $1.65 and a “gringo burrito”, made with carne asada, french fries, green onion, cheddar cheese, guacamole, and lettuce is only $5.95!!!

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