Hey, Cabron! Clayudas, cemitas, cheladas and crushed grasshoppers in Huntington Park
Pal Cabron is the latest outpost of the Guelaguetza empire, a gaudy sandwich shop just off the main drag in Huntington Park, where the walls are splashed with representations of the namesake mythic dude: a slouching, beer-bellied guy perpetually wearing a stained tank top and sagging shorts, cop shades and huaraches, clutching with equal indifference a sandwich, a beer and two pneumatic cabronas. I mean the restaurant no disrespect, but its most indelible feature may well be its men’s room, which is decorated with a painted chorus of women staring down toward your crotch, jaws slack with concupiscent awe. I don’t know who this place is designed for, but I’m pretty sure he cut me off on the Pasadena Freeway last week.
Guelaguetza, of course, is the standard-bearer among local Oaxacan kitchens, but Pal Cabron, which replaces an orthodox location of the restaurant, serves just two things: a fast-food take on the Oaxacan clayuda — a mammoth tostada smeared with lardy bean paste, and topped with meat, lettuce and the shredded Oaxacan cheese quesillo — and baroque versions of Puebla-style cemitas. I like the one stuffed with lamb barbacoa, chipotle, a handful of acrid papalo leaves and an extra dose of quesillo. The usual Mexican bottled soft drinks are available, but you might as well go all the way — the cheladas, made with cold Pacifico, fresh lime and a lashing of Maggi, are served in chilled glasses whose rims have been dipped in a concoction of salt, chile and crushed grasshoppers.
PAL CABRON: 2560 E. Gage Ave., Huntington Park, (323) 277-9899. Sun.-Wed., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4 a.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. MC, V.
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