“People always think they are experts on Mexican cuisine just because they are from L.A.” Ivy Stark, executive chef of New York gourmet Mexican chain Dos Caminos, complained to Metromix. How does the Colorado native know that we’re all a bunch of faux-Mexperts? Well, Starck went to U.C.L.A. for five years and feels certain that, “while there are pockets of excellent Mexican food there, especially from Oaxaca, the majority of the Mexican food in L.A., besides the taco stands and very few restaurants, is Americanized Tex-Mex food.” Survey says?
Wrong! Not that there’s anything wrong with Tex-Mex, the original fusion cuisine that we still love at Henry’s and Tito’s. But besides those landmark storefronts, we can’t think of many places that really sell stuff like hard-shell tacos with cheddar and iceberg lettuce. This is just a case of another Bruin who was bereft of Mexican food outside of La Salsa, Acapulco, and Baja Fresh. Maybe she took a trip to a convenient Oaxacan staple like Juquila or Monte Alban and is making the classic outsider mistake of taking a part of L.A. for the whole.
Sorry Stark, but if you’ve never sampled scorching cemitas out of a truck, Sinaolan shrimp on Centinela, Puebla-style chiles nogadas at Casita Mexicana, Yucatan cochinita pibil made in a South Central shopping mall, Highland Park’s take on D.F.’s street huaraches, Jalisco birria, or Baja fish tacos, then your five years in Westwood didn’t grant you a degree in Mexillence yourself. In fact, until Queens gets a street named after Cesar Chavez, please leave our Mexican food alone.
Q&A;: Ivy Stark [Metromix]