Dear Mr. Gold:
Have you published a list of the 10 best places for L.A. street food and/or “dives”? I'd like to tour them on bicycle, so if they are concentrated in one area, that would be best — and hopefully a slightly more urban area like Venice or downtown. —Jakki F.
I never have published such a list. My favorite street food tends to change locations from week to week, being not quite legitimate, and one man's dive is another man's palace — often mine. But if what you hope to find is something like a mini-tour of Pico Boulevard, I'd be happy to help.
1. El Parian is still the champion birrieira in town, and if what you're after is a bowl of Jalisco-style roast goat, you're in the right place. Note also cold beer, fragrant homemade tortillas (except on Sundays), and what some people call the best carne asada in L.A. 1528 W. Pico Blvd.
2. La 27th. Heroic Nicaraguan fritanga plates — why not? I think you'll be happy with the vigorón, a Nicaraguan cabbage salad ballasted with fried pigskin, too. 1830 W. Pico Blvd.
3. El Colmao. I sleep better knowing that there is still fried pork leg with onions like this in the world. Add an avocado salad, a glass of cold red wine and a plate of their moros y cristianos — rice and black beans fried hard with bits of pork fat — and you'll know why L.A.'s most old-school Cuban restaurant is still rocking it all these decades later. 2328 W. Pico Blvd.
4. Dino's Burgers. If you are looking for a proper representation of hellfire, Dino's grill may be as close as you will get: a sulfurous, smoke-belching landscape of fire and ashes, and stacks of chickens, dyed red as Old Nick with chile and spices, ready to be flipped onto stacks of hot fries. If you hit the chicken the right way, you may have infernal visions of your own, all heat and musk and dripping flesh. 2575 W. Pico Blvd.
5. Las 7 Regiones. Great Oaxacan tlayudas, decent mole colorado and world-class chicken soup. 2648 W. Pico Blvd.
6. Papa Cristo's. A big Greek dining hall in the heart of the Byzantine-Latino district, powered by grilled lamb, gyros, spanakopita and pounds of garlic. Homemade baklava? Hell, yeah. 2771 W. Pico Blvd.
7. Texis. Why are there 500 pupuserias in this part of town? Because everybody is hoping they'll taste like the rough-and-ready ones served here. 3087 W. Pico Blvd.
8. La Cevicheria. Massive ceviches, seafood cocktails and heaps of bloody clams — the best of coastal Guatemala right here. BYO rum. 3809 W. Pico Blvd.
9. Ham Ji Park. Korean cuisine sometimes seems as if it is two-thirds hangover palliatives, and the spicy pork neck stew with potatoes here is one of the very best. The grilled pork ribs are also mandatory. 4135 W. Pico Blvd.
10. Sky's Tacos. Tacos like mom used to make, unless mom happened to be Mexican. Soulful as hell. 5408 W. Pico Blvd.