Q: I recently ate wonderful carne seca in Tucson, but have looked for the dish in vain in Los Angeles. Have you found any Mexican restaurants with a good version of it?
A: There are versions of carne seca from all over Mexico in greater Los Angeles, including the powdery pounded stuff they use for machaca at Sinaloense restaurants (such as Badiraguato in South Gate), and the leathery dried beef called tasajo that tops clayudas at the Oaxacan places (including El Sazon Oaxaqueno, in West L.A.). The Morelos-style grilled cecina at Gallo’s Grill in East Los Angeles is pretty great too. But lately, I’ve been driving down to Wilmington a lot for the awesome carne seca at the 24-hour cop hang, Los Tres Cochinitos: flat slabs of Mexican dried beef, sluiced with lime, sliced thin as poker chips and fried until they are black and crisp and bubble like freshly cooked bacon, a sort of etude in extreme well-doneness. Cecina and the restaurant’s smoky chipotle-based salsa are just about perfect when you fold them into an improvised taco. Los Tres Cochinitos, 803 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Wilmington, (310) 549-0921.
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