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El Huarache Azteca: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Without anyone much noticing the transition, Highland Park has become one of the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles to experience regional Mexican cooking. Even the trucks and taco tables serve food from parts of Mexico barely represented here a decade ago. At the vanguard was El Huarache Azteca, which was serving the antojitos of Mexico City long before some of its regulars knew the cooking was regional at all. The famous dish here is, of course, the huarache, a flat, concave trough of fried masa the approximate size and shape of a size-12 sandal, mounded with beans and tough, thin shards of grilled steak or chile-red nubs of marinated pork, a layer of shredded lettuce and strata of grated cheese and Mexican-style cultured cream. If you are up to the challenge, you can get it piled high with the cabeza, rich, gelatinous meat from a cow's head, cooked down into an ultraconcentrated essence of beef with the consistency of refried beans. Don't miss the burning-hot huitlacoche quesadillas — fried turnovers stuffed with musky, jet-black corn fungus — made on weekends by the stone-faced woman who mans a fry cart outside the entrance. 5225 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 478-9572. Daily, 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. Takeout. Cash only. Mexican.

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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El Huarache Azteca

5225 York Blvd.
Highland Park, CA 90042

323-478-9572


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