California Grill Restaurant, Los Angeles

California Grill Restaurant, Los Angeles

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  1.  The never-ending hunt for great carnitas continues, unfortunately, but at least I finally found a Mexican place not far from where I live that serves truly delicious food. California Grill—located at the corner of Virgil Avenue and Monroe Street in Virgil Village—does not serve carnitas; you can’t have everything you want. Still, I was hardly disappointed.

    Before I go on, those of you who are cripplingly monolinguistic—as I am—should be aware that if you don’t know how to order Mexican food in Spanish, you may have a hard time getting what you really want here. I think the women at the restaurant understood four of the couple hundred English words I hurled at them. Fortunately for me, they understood “carne asada,” “pollo,” “taco” and “quesadilla” just fine.


     We ordered tacos (chicken and beef) from the young lady on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant that were scrumptious. She just dumped on the meats (which were flavorful, juicy and delicious) and let us dress our own tacos. I liked that. Inside, we got a carne asada quesadilla that was absolutely dynamite.  


     But for me, the beans and rice make the meal. As usual, the rice is… well, rice. It’s good, as it is in most Mexican restaurants, and like in those other places I eat it and enjoy it but really have nothing to say about it. The beans on the other hand… These are no refried beans from a can. I have no idea how they season the frijoles, which are more than a little soupy—especially if you drown them in salsa, as I do—but they are incredible. I usually buy a pint of the beans while I’m there (this somehow surprises the women behind the counter every time; I suppose I’m the only one who guzzles their beans like beer). When I reheat them at home, I add plenty of my own salsa and top the bowl with shredded cheese. Now there’s a treat for a cold winter’s day.

    By the way, that somewhat filling meal for two that I described a couple paragraphs ago cost me ten bucks. That’s a bargain in any book, especially when the food is this good.

    Now, having completed my rave let me tell you about the downside. Sorry, but there’s usually one of these floating around. If when you arrive there is a woman on the sidewalk making tacos, consider yourself lucky and by all means buy several. You won’t be disappointed. However, in the absence of this woman, the meats they use in the tacos sit under heat lamps inside the restaurant. If they’ve been sitting there for a while, you’re in for a dry, nearly flavorless meal. Should you arrive there to find this scenario in play, never fear: just get some beans and a few tubs of salsa to go (the salsa is far from spicy, but still rather tasty). 


     Another very convenient thing is that they deliver. Unfortunately for California Grill, we have some neighbors up the street that set up a whole taco operation in front of their place. Their tacos are even better than California Grill’s, they cost less and we don’t have to tip the delivery person.


    California Grill Restaurant

    800 N. Virgil Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90029
    (323) 660-0427

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