NELA Tour: Sinaloa Express, Mama Churro y Mas, El Naranja and the Lincoln Heights Corn Man
Recently I did a Northeast Los Angeles (NELA) tour. I grew up in Lincoln Heights and have always proudly told people I’m from Northeast LA.
We started at Sinaloa Express, next to Holy Grounds, a popular coffee shop. This mom and pop shop in El Sereno was the epitome of hospitality. The three of us decided to split an order of sopes and chile relleno. They were nice enough to offer us both chicken and beef for the order of sopes which comes four to an order. Normally you would have to go with beef or chicken but get both if you can. I thought the beef had a slight edge. The sopes themselves also had nicely crispy edges. It’s a true meal as it comes with a small cup of broth.
After pouring over the menu, we decided on the chile relleno but it wasn’t too exciting. It is however everything you want in comfort food; good rice, beans and loads of sauce.
We were tempted by the taco truck outside but it was on to the next place on our list.
Sinaloa Express5373 Alhambra Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90032 — (323) 224-0364
We stopped in nearby Mama Churro y Mas which is also in El Sereno. We were starting to get a little full so we ordered the fried chicken and churro combo for $5 and also a churro ice cream sandwich.
The chicken was juicy and flavorful. It was really quite nice and I regretted sharing two pieces of chicken with 2 other people. We didn’t get filled churros which is an extra charge but it might be worth it instead of feebly trying to dab on some caramel (cajeta) onto the churro. Then again, you didn’t really need the extra calories.
I really wanted to love the churro ice cream sandwich but we got it at the same time as the chicken and it was melting rapidly. Advice? Eat dessert first.
Mama Churro y Mas4836 Huntington Dr S., El Sereno, CA 90032 — (323) 225-6262
Next we stopped at La Naraja taqueria. When I was growing up, this space was the old Pioneer Chicken. Now it serves everything from teriyaki chicken to Mexican food. And most nights there is a taquero manning a grill inside the restaurant (which makes it very smokey inside). There was also a two-man mariachi playing softly by the door.
We ordered all the meats including: chorizo, lengua, tripas, al pastor and carne asada. My favorites were the chorizo and the al pastor. But the best part where the onions that have been grilling merrily away. Maybe sure you get at least two to go with your meal.
La Naranja Taqueria2333 Daly St., Los Angeles, CA 90031 — (323) 221-5923
Across the street and through a couple of parking lots is the fabled Lincoln Heights Corn Man. Supposedly he’s been serving up his corn on the cob and bowls of corn for over 25 years on the streets of Lincoln Heights. This was the first time I visited and found the elote man very jovial. There have been recent articles and social media buzz so be prepared to wait in a long line (though it moves very quickly).
Timoteo says he mostly brings sweet corn because no one wants Mexican field corn. I have to say the sweet corn was really good.
I got the triple threat of butter, mayo and cheese for my cob. I very happily ate it while walking around the old hood, marveling how things have changed— and hadn’t changed at all. We talked about how craft beer were appearing at spots nearby– just down the street from my old high school (!) and how the population has changed a bit. But that’s nothing new. My 6th grade teacher also grew up in this same neighborhood but back when it was predominantly French and Italian.
The next NELA tour will be a hunt for more street food and stops at old favorites.
Lincoln Heights Corn Man aka
Workman & Broadway, Lincoln Heights
© The Minty 2015