Sure, the sopes are uninspired; the pozole is too funky and rich. But campestre, involving long-braised pork steaks, rubbed with a smoked-chili paste and topped with fried green pepper and a swirl of blackened strands of onion, is tender enough to cut with a plastic fork. Costillitas are wonderful, tiny little chewy ribs blanketed with a salty, grainy sauce of chilies and tomatillos that stain the soft meat the color of an Ensenada sunset.
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For a long time, everybody I knew went to Dos Arbolitos, a tiny converted hamburger stand in a supermarket parking lot on the San Fernando Valley’s northern plain that was the source of some of the most directly delicious Mexi...