Best Of L.A.

4 Great Quesadillas in Los Angeles

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Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 8:00 AM
click to enlarge The Vampiro at Mexicali Taco - FARLEY ELLIOTT
  • Farley Elliott
  • The Vampiro at Mexicali Taco

Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (coming out Oct. 3), we'll be bringing you periodic lists of some of the best things we've found to eat and drink around town. Ice cream sandwiches and bowls of tsukemen, fish tacos and dan dan mian, cups of boba and glasses of booze. Read on.

What's not to love about quesadillas? Large, perfectly crisped tortilla; warm, gooey, heart-stopping cheese; salty, perfectly portioned meat. It's a time-tested ratio that has worked on taco trucks, food carts and inside sit-down taquerias since forever, and with L.A.'s current focus on Mexican food with flare, the results are tastier than ever.

We've been scouring the streets, stalls and late night Mexican spots for the best quesadillas we could find. The greasy, cheesy, meaty results -- and the related clean up -- couldn't possibly all be chronicled here, so we've picked four of our favorites from across the quesadilla spectrum. Turn the page.

click to enlarge Blue corn quesadillas at Mercado Olympic - PAUL BARTUNEK

4. Blue Corn Quesadilla from the Mercado Olympic

For thick, freshly fried quesadillas with a smack of salty Oaxacan cheese, get yourself down to the Mercado Olympic. The weekend-only sidewalk market is open to all, and stretches west from Central Avenue for more than a city block. There are endless food vendors on hand, and more than a few hawk their southern Mexican blue corn specialties. The quesadillas aren't as voluminous or overwhelmingly cheesy as what you may be used to from your local taco truck, but the thick, freshly fried blue corn masa is near to perfection. Warm and pliant, with browned edges that crisp up wonderfully, these quesadillas give way inside to all manner of cheese and meat, though chorizo or squash blossoms are by far the most common. If you're looking for a touch of funk, give the huitlacoche option a try. Weekends only, at Olympic Blvd. and Central Ave.

click to enlarge The Vampiro at Mexicali Taco - FARLEY ELLIOTT
  • Farley Elliott
  • The Vampiro at Mexicali Taco

3. Carne Asada Vampiro from Mexicali Taco

You know what your quesadilla needs? Onions and garlic. That's the idea behind the vampiro, Mexicalo Taco's much-beloved spin on the usual late night snack. There is cheese, sure, and lots of sizzling bits of Mexicali's signature carne asada, but the first and last thing you'll notice about the vampiro is how it rocks your nostrils. The quesadilla hybrid is infused with so much oily garlic you can practically see it wafting off the top in long, wavy lines. Tucked inside the spotty tortilla is a treasure trove of funky flavors: salty, smoky beef, fresh cheese, a dash of pepper and the unmistakable tang of onion. There's even a strip of green onion laid over top, slightly wilted from the flames of the grill in the back. Or from every vampiro eater's stinky breath, perhaps. 702 N. Figueroa, L.A.; 213-613-0416.

See also: 10 Best Taco Trucks in Los Angeles

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