Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
74: Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense.
Sure, you can eat Sabina Bandera González's glorious seafood tostadas here in Los Angeles, at the L.A. Street Food Fest, say, where last weekend they won the top award. Or at last year's same event, where her sea urchin tostadas were named Best Original Dish. But Gonzalez's stunning creation is best appreciated while standing in the sun next to La Guerrerense, her street cart, on the actual Ensenada street where it has been parked for much of the last half-century. If your idea of fun is driving across the border with Bill Esparza (maybe Andre Guerrero is driving; maybe Evan Kleiman is riding shotgun), then chances are you're among the initiated.
"Many say it's the best street cart in the world," Anthony Bourdain said on the Baja edition of his No Reservations show, and he'd probably know. All we know is that one of those sea urchin tostadas, with a few slices of raw Pismo clam and some perfectly ripe avocado, dosed with hot sauce and lemon and liberally covered with spoonfuls of González's homemade salsas -- the chile de arbol sauce, the peanut sauce, or chilitos de mi jardin -- was worth a recent drive to Ensenada. Yes, we made a few notable stops along the way (the truly remarkable Mision 19 in Tijuana, for one), but the 24-hour road trip was pretty much for this tostada.
A drive through L.A. traffic in Friday night rush hour traffic, down through the lovely environs of Orange County, over the border and all that means, then 100 km further down the Baja coast for some mashed fish on a fried tortilla? Oh, God, yes.