Dear Mr. Gold:
It's Hanukkah, and I want to have a party, but I live in a small apartment and hate frying things because the smell never goes away. I thought I would have a churros and spiked cider party instead. Where is the best place to get churros?
–D. Gerson, Echo Park
Dear Ms. Gerson:
I know what you mean about the latke thing. I have done a few latke parties in my time, but kind of gave it up — potato pancakes turned out in multiples of a hundred involve an ungodly amount of work, and I am in awe of the home cooks who take on the awesome load of grating and squeezing and squeezing again, then harvesting the potato starch from the gross frothy liquid that turns organ-meat pink in an instant. Also, there is no way of hand-grating multiple onions without identifying with the Occupy protesters on the wrong side of the tear gas. It's probably a little easier if you use a Cuisinart, but I'm always afraid the latkes will turn gummy, and I have twisted priorities. It's almost enough to make a person turn back to the tradition of jelly doughnuts.
So your idea of churros is brilliant — long, crunchy sticks of fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar, a pastry that layers the mandatory Hanukkah use-of-oil motif with contemporary Los Angeles pluralism. Hats off!
The classic place to get churros in L.A. is at Lucero's, which is way down on Gage in the City of Industry, and Mama's Churros in El Sereno are very well regarded. If you go to Mr. Churro, it gives you an excuse to visit Olvera Street, and the churros are very good. If I were you, though, I'd buy them from the Salinas truck that parks near the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, because the best churro is the freshest churro, and Salinas churros are always crisp, hot and delicious.