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Food & Drink

BEST HUMBLE BURRITOS Los Angeles 2009 

Al & Bea's

Even if you think Korean BBQ burritos or the ones served at Chipotle Mexican Grill are the wave of the future, it's worth experiencing the simple formula that's kept Al & Bea's in business since 1966. These are burritos completely devoid of embellishment, and they may be the best L.A. has to offer. With few exceptions, all of the options on the menu are some combination of just three ingredients: refried beans, Mexican cheese and stewed beef. My favorite, though, is the burrito with a chile relleno inside. It's an exquisitely fluffy battered chile bundled up with a generous helping of beans that oozes molten cheese with every bite. Like the food, the restaurant is about as humble as can be. There's a window for ordering and a window for picking up. The seating area, which is really just a handful of miniature picnic tables with an overhang for shade, evokes a junior high quad. But no matter what time of day, you're sure to find it crowded with locals and probably a renegade downtown office worker or two.

—Nicolas Taborek

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