If you've read Jonathan Gold's rave about the “dangerous cemita” at Pal Cabron but didn't feel like heading to Huntington Park only for a sandwich, things are looking up. Late next week, Pal Cabron will open its second location, this one in the original Guelaguetza space at 8th and Normandie in the heart of Koreatown. (Don't worry, Pal Cabron #1 one will remain open.)
The menu will retain all the classic cemitas and clayudas that made the first shop so great while adding four tacos to the roster: al pastor topped with grilled pineapple as well as cecina, tasajo and chorizo topped with Oaxacan string cheese ($2 each).
If that sounds like the perfect snack after stumbling out of a bar, you're in luck. Pal Cabron dos will stay open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. (10 p.m. the rest of the week). Fans of the original should feel at home in the new space, which will be covered in murals by Hector El Pintor, whose caricatures of busty ladies and local food writers adorn the original location. He's already working on a mural that pays tribute to the mix of Korean and Oaxacan cultures.
The sad part of the equation is that the original Guelaguetza, which Fernando Lopez Sr. opened in 1994, has closed. From a hole-in-the-wall with only three tables, it expanded into a mini-chain with three locations, all owned by members of the extended Lopez clan. Next door, Natura Oaxacan Juice Bar (also owned and run by the Lopezes) will remain open, serving house-made Oaxacan ice cream, fresh squeezed juices and frozen treats.
“It just didn't make sense to have two [Guelaguetzas] so close to each other,” says daughter Bricia Lopez, referring to the nearby Guelaguetza at Olympic and Normandie. Larger, with alcohol and a parking lot, it bled customers away from the first location.
The Lopezes had already decided to close the original Guelaguetza, when Bricia and her siblings, brother Fernando Jr. and sister Paulina, decided to surprise their dad with the new venture. It also made business sense to Bricia, who looked around and didn't see much in the way of Oaxacan cemitas in Koreatown.
“Basically, everything we didn't do with [the first Pal Cabron],” Bricia says, “we're going to do right with this one.”
Pal Cabron dos: 3337 1/2 W. 8th St., Los Angeles.