Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ethnic Food of The San Gabriel Valley: From South of the Border to the Top of The World

We've counted almost 40 different kinds of ethnic foods in our home of the San Gabriel Valley, just east of Los Angeles, and we're going to highlight a few here each week.

The grandaddy of them all has to be Mexican food. They say there's a Starbucks on every corner. Here, there seems to be a Mexican restaurant on every corner, plus a couple more in the middle of the block.

While you can find Mexican restaurants in every city in the county, here in the valley you can find them in the biggest numbers in the neighborhoods that have a high concentration of Mexican families like El Monte, Baldwin Park, La Puente, Bassett, and Azusa.

There are sit down restaurants that cater to more gringo tastes like El Torito and there are those who go for a more authentic palate like the goat stew called Birria at La Barca in El Monte.

You can get tacos made from almost any part of the animal...guts (a particular favorite of mine), brains, cheeks, tongues...and from nice places with waiters & margaritas, to hole-in-the-walls, to taco trucks on a late night corner. Most of it very reasonable in price, too.

Beware that there are many mediocre and lousy places but some of our favorites include Max's (in Azusa and Monrovia) and Rudy's in Monrovia for nice sit-down dinners (Rudy likes to break out the more exotic authentic fare on Friday nights) and drinks; La Barca and Guacamoles in El Monte and Mariscos Uruapan in Irwindale for a more boisterous, diner-like experience; Rincon Taurino in La Puente, El Picoso in Azusa, and Tacos del Chino in South El Monte for great taco stands. The King Taco chain also makes some pretty good tacos. For hard tacos, it's hard to beat Pepe's, with locations in Azusa, San Gabriel, and Alhambra.

One of our favorite restaurants was Cajun Way (AKA Frank and Joe's) in Monrovia. It was an extremely good example of Cajun cuisine. There is still some cajun left in the valley, mostly of the Chinese Cajun variety such as Boiling Crab, but nothing compares to Frank and Joe's. For really good Southern food with a smattering of Cajun, you need to leave the valley a bit and go to Spoonful in Studio City. Try to get there when they're having  Cajun boil, pictured above.

One of the more obscure cuisines we have is Himalayan food or the cuisine of Nepal and Tibet. On a quiet street in Old Pasadena sits Tibet Nepal House, serving the very hearty food of the high-altitude Himalayas.

It's quite delicious and very filling with lots of protein like eggs, beef, and...of course...yak. Above you can see a bowl of thupka (a hearty stew), Tibetan bread, and fried rice.

Next time you're in Southern California, slip on over to the SGV and give some of these cuisines a try. You'll love it.

More to come next week!

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. In the hole in the wall with a long line outside (and a convenient ice cream place next door) we like this place in Manhattan Beach for Mexican: