Las Taqueras: 3 women in the male-dominated world of tacos

In the high desert city of Hesperia, 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, it was so cold on a recent night that the salsas outside the Tacos La Madrina food truck stiffened with frost. The weather didn’t stop customers from lining up for tacos in the maw of winter, some wrapped in fleece blankets, others huddled near the truck for warmth. The truck’s owner, a slight, intense woman in her late 40s named Maria Cárdenas, worked at full speed behind the grill, sweating in the 50-degree temperature.

Newsletter: Here's why we stopped italicizing 'foreign' foods

Happy New Year, everyone. Whether you spent the winter holidays making tamales, slow-roasting pernil or learning the fine art of opening Champagne with a sword, I hope you ate well, surrounded by the people you love. My resolution this year is to cook more ambitious, dinner party-level dishes. I was inspired by a recent Food team party hosted by cooking editor Genevieve Ko, who modestly invited us for a casual, snacky get-together, then delivered a feast of Spanish charcuterie, pork roast and t

Review: Spago at middle age: Is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant still relevant?

This week our two restaurant critics jointly consider one of Los Angeles’ dining behemoths and ask the question: Is Spago still relevant? This is Patricia Escárcega’s review. Find Bill Addison’s take here. As armchair statisticians like to remind us, the lifespan of the average restaurant is painfully short. It makes a certain amount of sense that older restaurants, heralded for their longevity, are entombed in the language of deference and age ⁠— they are “classics,” “landmarks,” sometimes eve

The story behind those colorful shag-rug cakes all over Instagram

What do you do after your cakes have been splashed across every major design blog in the country, and imitated so widely that there are now whole YouTube channels dedicated to DIY shag cakes? If you’re Jones-Mann, you head somewhere like the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale, where she goes to page through old advertising catalogs and art books. She can spend whole afternoons lost in the 700 section of any public library, she says. Recently, she became preoccupied with an ornate 16th cent

Review: In Long Beach, Amorcito spotlights Mexican American ‘pocho’ cuisine

Pochismo, in Ortega's cooking, is a philosophy and culinary aesthetic guided by several qualities: wit, irreverence and the sort of fearless autonomy that allows a chef to erase the boundaries between what we think of as "Mexican" and "American" cooking; haute and lowbrow cuisine. In Ortega's world, the tension that comes from living between two different cultures is not a source of anguish or confusion, but something to be exploited for creative purposes. Some of his most famous dishes include

Should restaurant reviews have star ratings? Our critics debate

At the beginning of our tenure, Bill and I took up the question of whether to reintroduce star ratings to the dining section. Bill leaned toward reinstituting them; I wanted to leave them in the dustbin. Our predecessor, Jonathan Gold, did away with starred reviews in 2012. I've many reasons to be grateful Gold, a man I never met in life, but whose legacy I reckon with every time I sit down to write a review. Gold was not just a great critic, but also one of our best contemporary American prose

Q&A: Netflix’s ‘Tuca & Bertie’ makes fun of food trends. Its creator explains ‘crünts’

Lisa Hanawalt — illustrator, TV producer, soup dumpling devotee — has dedicated much of her work to the subject of food and the working lives of chefs. “I love people who are really good at something, and cooking in particular,” Hanawalt said recently from her home in Los Angeles. Colorful, irreverent and fearlessly weird, Hanawalt’s work often features anthropomorphic animal characters with very human problems. She’s the production designer and producer of the Netflix series “BoJack Horseman,”

Review: At Sonoratown, worship at the altar of flour tortillas and mesquite-grilled beef

The emblematic dish at Sonoratown is the steak taco. The kitchen uses short ribs, the closest approximation in the U.S. to norteño-style agujas, the well-marbled chuck steak cut often used in Sonoran cooking. More than likely, there will be a line at the counter, affording you time to gawk at the taquero on duty, who feeds strips of beef onto the grill with the focus of someone whose life depends on perfectly well-done beef. Every few minutes, the tiny dining room, ringed in counter seating and

Review: Tsubaki in Echo Park is a modern izakaya with a serious sake obsession

The most primal cut on the menu, though, is a bone-in short rib glazed in a sweet-savory yakiniku barbecue sauce. Braised for about 48 hours, the dish is everything you might hope it for: the bone slips away effortlessly, the soft, flossy tendrils of meat collapsing into a dark, saucy muddle that could almost be called pudding. There may not be a more emphatic way to end your meal at Tsubaki. Except, maybe, for one more round of sake.

Review: At the fast-casual Hasiba, luxuriate over hummus and other Israeli classics

There are four varieties on the menu, including the top-selling wild mushroom hummus, an earthy dip punctuated by a garlicky slash of the Moroccan herb sauce chermoula. Eggplant hummus is pounded to a satiny, slightly bittersweet finish and topped with diced marinated eggplant and a blizzard of chopped parsley. The hummus ful might be the most vibrant of the bunch, its toasted sesame base inflected with the bright, herbal notes of stewed favas. I keep coming back to the evenness and simplicity o

Review: At Fonda Mixcoac in Anaheim, order a cheesy 29-inch machete. Bring friends

Your machete is bulging with melted Oaxaca cheese, finely chopped iceberg lettuce and rivulets of crema fresca. It lands on the table with a whiff of head-turning fanfare, wrapped in the perfume of clean, hot oil. You whip out your smartphone to take pictures. Someone gently raises the baby cradled in their arms next to the machete for a sense of scale (the machete is bigger). It takes three or four adults to polish off one two-plus-foot-long machete. Someone else wisely carves into the dish, di

Review: NoMad plants its flag in downtown Los Angeles

In a year swollen with new restaurants helmed by Chefs from Elsewhere, NoMad registered as one of the biggest and most auspicious entries of the great East Coast invasion of 2018. It marked the official Los Angeles debut of chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the team behind New York’s celebrated Eleven Madison Park. NoMad, which opened early last year, was their first restaurant outside of New York; since then they’ve seemed set on world domination — last fall, a new NoMad hotel and

Phoenix Tamale Store: Immigrant turns passion into profit

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a group of women gathered around a stainless-steel work table inside the large, well-lit kitchen at The Tamale Store. The women smeared masa (corn dough) onto supple, flattened-out corn husk wrappers. They heaped generous spoonfuls of red chile beef guisos (braised stew) onto the dough, agilely folding over the edges of the husk to wrap up the dough and meat into neat half-pound tamales. Tamale making is notoriously time-consuming, inspiring many professional tam

The 11 Best New Restaurants in Phoenix

Today Eater heads to Phoenix, Arizona, to call out 11 newish restaurants on the front lines of a Southwestern culinary explosion. We turned to local critic Patricia Escarcega to share her picks for the city’s buzziest openings of the past 12 months or so. “It’s been a busy year for the Phoenix food and drink scene, with an almost record-breaking number of new restaurants opening this past spring alone,” says Escarcega. Among her picks, a lively barbecue spot (Starlite BBQ and Whiskey Bar), a ne

Drunk With History: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in America

The Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival has been going for 25 years and is one of the more tasteful celebrations of the holiday If you Google “Cinco de Mayo,” as I just did, you’ll find the internet flush with articles like “What Is Cinco de Mayo?” (Good Housekeeping), or “Why Do We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?” (USA Today), or “FACT CHECK: What is Cinco de Mayo?” (Snopes). If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Cinco de Mayo is some mysterious phenomenon or secret cult ritual. It’s not, of co

Regional Chinese Cooking Is on the Rise in Metro Phoenix

Yee pages through the menu enthusiastically. He’s “down to try anything,” he tells me. Pretty soon the table is covered with dishes: a salad bowl of chile-specked chilled cucumber; a plate of big, sweaty half-moon pork dumplings; and steaming soup bowls filled with Nan Zhou’s signature hand-pulled lamian noodles. Yee offers thoughtful notes on the dishes: The pan-fried dumplings are bit better than the steamed dumplings. The broth could use more seasoning. The noodles have a nice chew. Yee is

'Sex Mex' Is Trendy, but Using Sex to Sell Tacos Is Hardly New

On a recent Friday night, throngs of 20-somethings were packed inside El Hefe, the “super macho taquería” in downtown Scottsdale that’s probably best known for two things: kiddie-pool-size adult beverages called Beergaritas, and the “Hefe Girls,” the restaurant’s crew of young, scantily clad female servers and bartenders, who regularly take turns dancing on the bar, Coyote Ugly-style. On this night, the Beergaritas were flowing, the wordless thump of EDM vibrated in the air, and as promised, a

Mother's Milk

See all of Best of Phoenix 2017 here. On the outskirts of southwest Phoenix, on a back road with views of alfalfa fields and the placid-looking Estrella Mountains, my husband and I are driving in circles. In my lap, I’ve got a beat-up notebook with the address of a west-side ranchito I’ve never seen or visited. This place, I’ve been told by a friend of a friend, might have the stuff we’re looking for. We make a couple of wrong turns. We pass the same trailer park twice. Finally, we stop at the
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