Monday, February 13, 2006
A youth's initiation to El Parian
My son has become quite the carne asada aficionado in the last few years. And since I haven't been able to interest him in sushi beyond California rolls or Chinese food beyond spareribs and fried rice, I figured it was only fair that he at least try the reputed best carne asada. He was ravenous after an hour of intense sparring in karate class when we stopped by El Parian. Yes, it looks closed on the outside, but parking was easy behind the restaurant, and I was surprised to see lots of tables and a cooler of beers, which practically equals fine dining to me. I had thought it would be a truly basic tiny stand, but there's plenty of room to spread out and tuck into your food here. We watched several bowls of steaming birria come out of the kitchen, and after my son's sarcastic yet ill-informed crack, "What do you mean they serve the best goat in L.A., how much competition could they have?," we both allowed that actually the goat looked pretty good. But it was a day for carne asada, so after watching the tortilla lady make the tortillas for our tacos right in front of us, we took our tacos home where ripe avocados awaited us. We adorned our tacos with chunks of avocado and dug into rich, intensely beefy flavored tacos with freshly-made tortillas. They didn't have the little charred bits I had heard about, and they were almost too beefy for my timid beef-eating self. But Matt and Sam loved them, and I have to say, this is one quality taco. Maybe we'll go there for Valentine's Day.
1528 W. Pico
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Birria is big among the Guadalajara/Zacatecas crowd, whose concentration can be measured by the fact that the Guadalajara soccer team felt it would be profitable to open a local MSL satellite franchise. I have been to at least 30 or 40 goat specialists in the Los Angeles area and El Parian is indeed the best. I had been going to the restaurant for almost 20 years (it weas the subject of the very first Counter Intelligence column for the Times) before I realized that it sold carne asada at all!
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