BETTER DRIVES US. HYUNDAI
Even if you’ve lived in Los Angeles for quite awhile, you might’ve never heard of a little area called Pico Union. It’s between Downtown LA and the Wilshire District, and it’s one of the most diverse communities in all of Los Angeles.
The coolest part about Pico Union? The thriving culinary culture, that is large in part due to the gentrification of the neighborhood and surrounding areas. It’s basically a melting pot of cultural goodness that makes this community better!
Here are a few Pico Union restaurants that are totally bringing the good to this little hood.
1. El Parian Restaurant
It might not look like much from the outside, but inside this family owned restaurant is one of the oldest and most successful restaurants in LA. For over FIFTY years – yes, that’s right, over five decades – El Parian has been serving up some of the most inventive, delicious, and spicy Mexican food. It looks like a standard dive, but that’s the beauty of Pico Union. While it might not be the most affluent neighborhood, it’s rich in culture, dining, and history.
The mouth-watering Birria de Chavo (as seen above) is a must for any birria-lover.
Not only is this a local favorite, but it’s been written about as one of the best restaurants in Southern California – which is a pretty dope message to anyone pursuing their dreams. If you’re good enough and you work hard enough, you can make it.
Founded in 1994 by an immigrant husband and wife duo, Fernando Lopez and Maria Monterrubio, this Pico Union gem has been serving up exquisite Oaxacan food since then. Not only does the joint celebrate its Oaxacan roots, but it hosts all sorts of events that educate people about Oaxacan culture, including one that happened last March – El Mezcalero Mural Exhibit.
The menu is heaven – among the favorites, the queso fundido is hard to pass up. It’s melted Oaxaca cheese, grilled chorizo, and fresh mushrooms all sizzled together in a skillet.
The founders are now retired, but they’ve entrusted the restaurant to their children, the new generation of Oaxaqueños, who continue the legacy.
3. El Taurino
El Taurino is the stuff of late night taco craving dreams, which is why it’s making this hood even better. Being a family owned business, you constantly see the owners on site, wearing a smile on their face and always attentive to their customers. Its menu is simple enough, but it delivers the classic Mexican dishes with a punch that keeps everyone coming back for more…like the flavorful carne asada tacos.
Any place that is open 24 hours on the the weekend is worth a visit. Just expect long lines! Something this good brings folks of all different backgrounds and places to wait in line for the yummy dishes.
4. El Colmao
El Colmao will satiate all your Cuban food cravings. It’s been a staple in the Pico Union community for being one of the most authentic Cuban restaurants in the West Coast since the ‘70s, and without it, this hood would definitely not be as good.
There’s nothing quite like wandering into a Cuban restaurant in the thick of summer, sitting down, and enjoying a plate of authentic fried pork leg, Cuban-style rice and beans, lathered in hot sauce, and garnished with a fresh lime on the side. The garlic and salt flavors hit you all at once in perfect harmony.
5. Zamora Brothers Carniceria
Chato Zamora began making carnitas at the local Zamor soccer matches and football fields in the area. If you had told him and his family his carnitas would pave the way for a restaurant to explode, they would never have believed you.
When he passed, Zamora left the storefront to his children and late wife. The most beautiful thing about this place? The fact that what started out as just another street food cart in a Chicano community blossomed into a carnitas phenomenon that has lasted 45 years, and has fed even a United States President. Amazing doesn’t even cover it.
The epic menu will keep you coming back for more. Whether you’re craving some Birria en Caldo on a cold day, a handmade torta smothered in carnitas, or Chicharron Sopes, this place will never disappoint.