QUESTION: It’s fun to crawl East L.A. looking for taco stands. But is it possible to get great carnitas in a restaurant where you can actually sit down, hear some music and maybe get a margarita or two? I’ve tried to take dates to El Gran Burrito and Antojitos Denise’s, and believe me — it did not go over well.
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ANSWER: Zocalo, a fancyish Mexican restaurant in newly redeveloped downtown Alhambra, seems to double (two nights a week anyway) as a low-key nightclub: Latin jazz, Veracruz harp music, guitar duos, that sort of thing. And while the restaurant seems proudest of its goat-cheese enchiladas with huitlacoche, quail in peanut mole and clever multicultural tricks with salmon, the carnitas are some of the best I’ve had recently — soft almost to the point of melting, veined with fat and intensely porky in a way that the crotchetiest Michoacan grandmother might admire. It’s a serious plate of meat, with or without the floorshow. 118 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 458-0317.