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Antojitos Carmen: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN

Have you ever encountered a Mexico City–style huarache de huitlacoche? Because if you haven't, you're really missing out: a footlong "sandal" of fried corn dough, too hot to touch but too compelling not to, layered with steaming middens of beans and aromatics and corn smut sautéed with onions, sprinkled with lettuce and crumbled cheese, striped like the Mexican flag — why not! — with red salsa and green salsa and a little Mexican cream, and maybe with the pale, hell-hot habanero salsa Antojitos Carmen calls El Chamuco, the devil, for its ability to infiltrate your soul. The huarache will make you suffer, first through its physical heat, then through the heat of El Chamuco, then through the jet-black fungus that will paint your teeth the color of charcoal before it oozes down to stain your favorite shirt. You will like the suffering. You will drink a bottle of Mexican Squirt. You will try the toasted-seed salsa de semillas; the fat, split gorditas; and the fried-pie quesadillas stuffed with soft slices of beef tongue. And you will raise a glass to Carmen Castellanos, whose decades of cooking at taco tables on the streets of Boyle Heights transfer magnificently to her first real restaurant. "Do you want your quesadilla fried or cooked on the griddle?'' asks her son Abe. "The fried ones are much tastier. If it were up to me." 2510 Cesar Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights. (323) 264-1451, antojitoscarmenrestaurant.com. Mon.-Thurs., 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 8:30 a.m.-mid. No alcohol. Street parking. AE, MC, V. Antojitos.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Antojitos Carmen - Closed

2510 E. Cesar E Chavez Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

323-264-1451


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