Looking at all of the framed photos that hang on the walls inside El Grullense, it’s obvious that whoever is in charge here is very proud of their Mexican heritage. Old maps, portraits of previous presidents, and celebrated athletes now past their prime look out as reminders of home, of memories and a culture never to be lost or forgotten. Approach the register and you’ll find yourself staring right at the grill, this time heating a tortilla filled with gooey cheese and crumbled chorizo, waiting to be folded into a quesadilla. Order here, find a seat at one of four booths or the counter that stretches alongside the wall, and patiently await your tacos as they’re made to order. The best part? You pay after eating, enabling you to start with a small order and then get more of your favorites.
My trip to El Grullense was specifically for their chicken tacos, which I had heard were sublime. Chicken, of course, is available at most every taco joint, but few seem to put much effort into making it interesting or exceptional, so I was excited to try the version here. Of course, the pollo wasn’t ready yet, so instead I went with four tacos, one each of carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, and cabeza. The asada was good but not great, as I would’ve liked a little more sear from the grill. Despite being a bit on the dry side, the al pastor had a great flavor with a marked acidity, perhaps from some pineapple juice in the marinade. Following pork with pork, the carnitas were up next, tender with a crispy exterior, cooked perfectly to lock in the juicy, richness of the meat. Last but not least, fatty, supple chunks of cabeza displaying a characteristic beefy flavor synonymous with other “face” meats. At $1.25, the amount of meat tucked inside each warm tortilla was perfect.
Just like the images adorning the inside of El Grullense, there is certainly a sense of pride embodied in their food that you can literally taste. It may just be years of flavors collected on the grill and imparted into everything that comes into contact with it, but whatever it is, it’s entirely worth making the journey to experience it one bite at a time.
*This post was originally written for, and can also be viewed at, Qualmes.com
2274 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Dine date: Mon 07.1.13, 12:30p