Category Archives: Pork

Artisanal LA 2010, Downtown LA (Savory Edition)

And so man cannot live with desserts alone. After all, the sweets often come after the savory. So as not to saturate and kill my palate and appetite with too much sugar, I also had to make my way towards the salty, bitter, meaty, and even the “hoppy”. At the Artisanal LA Fall 2010, I didn’t need the salt over the shoulder to have good luck, I had no problem finding the best savory had to offer.

Enjoy my sumptuous finds:

I had to buy Damn That’s Good’s curry sauce for a dinner idea I immediately envisioned after I tasted their sample. It was not a simple sauce to make, and the taste showcased its complexity well. It had a perfect amount of spice, very well-balanced with a spicy taste towards the back-end without overpowering the combination. Their risottos were actually okay. I must admit, bias set it when I had to taste it cold, it didn’t really sit well atop my tongue but I’m sure it would have been better received had it been at least a little warm. Their pastas were also cold. But all had a good promise of flavors.

Winner of the KCRW 2nd Annual Pie Contest, The Flying Pie Man shared his savory creation only during this event. Yuichiro Sato unfortunately does not have a means of selling his product yet (store or online), but we were blessed indeed that he has shared and we have tasted. It was more like a Shepherd’s pie or also called Cottage Pie. The seasonings in the ground beef had strong flavor (almost too overpowering for my taste), the mashed potato at the bottom was creamy and buttery, and the vegetables were actually still crunchy despite having been marinating with the juices from the meat, the mashed potato, and steam within.  The pie crust was actually the best part; it was flaky, salty, buttery, and just crunchy delicious. So here’s a plea: get your site together Yuichiro, the line at your table said it all.

This table was packed with visitors so I barely had a chance to take a decent photo, my apologies. I was about to leave when I was asked to go ahead and taste the meat, so over the shoulder of a stranger I reached out for my sample of healthy, grass-fed steak from Open Space Meats. It was decently cooked, I didn’t expect it to be like a restaurant serving me my medium rare cut, but the meat had a much stronger beef flavor. And of course, lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, which means a healthier option for you.

Of course, I wouldn’t think of leaving without visiting a local brewery. Eagle Rock Brewery showcased two of their Artisan brews. Addicted to my caffeine, I had to choose the Stimulus (Belgian Amber with Ethiopian Coffee). It did not have a strong coffee flavor, but it was definitely present in each sip. The citrus created a fine after-taste that it was a little sad that it only came in sample cups.

I had just enough time to peak in at the most popular demo of the event: Pig Butchering by Lindy and Grundy’s Erika Nakamura. Skilled with a knife, Erika wielded with ease and cut down the half-pig in no time at all. Lindy and Grundy will soon serve Los Angeles just like the forgotten times, with a local, sustainable butcher shop selling organic and grass-fed meat.

Whew, the tasting extravaganza ended there. But it was not only the samples that shined during this Artisanal LA event. The owners and chefs that continue to pursue the healthier, organic side of cuisine and produce showed to us that healthier does not necessarily mean tasteless. And that handmade with the finest ingredients are sometimes a much better and not necessarily a more expensive route to take. So don’t deprive and cheat yourself of the finer and healthier things in life, Artisanal LA proves that they are definitely worth it.

Please support our local farmers and business owners. Click on the links to check out their websites and also how to order.

 

 

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Filed under Alcohol, Artisan, Beef, Event, Occasion, Pork

Carmen’s (A deconstruction of a Torta Cubana), Los Angeles

Not even back to Ktown and I already dreamt of which places I must go to before my deadline by end of May. Having stepped inside the hold, memories flood back as I remember the many months I stayed here, including the many places I go to for my fix. I must admit, Ktown is one of my favorite places to dine in LA. It is crawling in diversity, unabashed, hole-in-the-wall locations that are just simply put: delicious. Carmen’s taco truck is one of those places.

Nestled between Kingsley and Ardmore on 8th, Carmen’s shares the usual Mexican taco truck servings, including some “acquired tastes” of meat (cabeza, lengua)

But I do not go to Carmen’s for the tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. I go for the tortas. Not all taco trucks serving tortas are made the same. Some are just rolls and whatever meats they serve their tacos or burritos with, plus some salsa on top. But here at Carmen’s you actually get more than just chopped meat and bread. Expect to stay for more than a few minutes, because made-to-order goodness comes to those who wait.

The quesillo torta. First of all, the bread. They actually use a telera or a soft round bread, commonly used in tortas in Mexico. They grill the bread to a nice crust, with treasures of burnt parts on the outside. Whilst slightly crunchy on the outside, the inside is a soft, somewhat thin layer of bread that holds well against the heavy pounding of other ingredients. Lettuce, slices of a half of an avocado, and real queso oaxaca. Oaxacan cheese is similar to string cheese but sold in balls and very much used in a lot of Mexican dishes; with a very light taste such as mozzarella and even melts into an almost same consistency. Only $4, you really can’t go wrong with this torta if you’re looking for something simple and (almost) light to the belly.

But if your need is for weight and gain, then go for gusto and get the Torta Cubana.

There are no words big enough to describe this colossal monstrosity. It is MEAT in a sandwich, VS just a sandwich with meat, plain and simple. Five layers of one meat after another plus the addition of lettuce, quesillo, and half of an avocado.

This is only half of the torta (the rest lay peacefully inside my expanding stomach). Let’s have a closer look (from  LEFT clockwise):

-Salchicha: sausages. A whole sausage cut right down the middle and placed down on the grill to get those burnt, grill marks. It excretes necessary oils onto the grill to mingle with the rest of the meats. I don’t mind that their sausage is generic, I’ve had worse.

-Jamon: HAMMMM. Yes, let’s add pork to the equation. Salty, cured pork.

-Cecina: a type of jerky but not as salty as the one’s we’re used to here, comparable to Thai beef jerky or the Filipino tapa. It’s hard on the teeth and stringy, nevertheless one slice is NOT enough Carmen’s. Please make note of.

-Tasajo: a type of preparation of beef. It’s usually marinated in achiote which gives it that reddish or orange color, then it’s seared on the grill to an almost chewy consistency. But do not be deceived, it’s not one tough cookie.

-Milanesa: a breaded steak filet (think wiener schnitzel). Now this slice was the least on my list. It was a too thin that it almost had a mushy consistency. It would probably be a good thing compared to its chewy compadres, but it was a little off-putting.

Like any doubtful Thomas, I tried them individually. They actually tasted common; sausage and ham from any local supermarket. Two slices of hard, salted, and jerked beef. A mushy piece of breaded something. Combined, these slices of protein sing a song so dear to my heart (and my arteries). One bite gets the most out of everything. And with the bread as an envelope, the cheese as a coagulant, and the avocado as a salt buffer, they all make a wonderful, simple, and inexpensive symphony of flavors.

How can you go wrong??? Tell me. I dare you to tell me. You may have had better meats, a better Torta Cubana somewhere else; but given the location, the circumstances, and the SOURCE? A taco truck in Ktown? This is indeed the pinnacle, the culmination, if I may exaggerate. This is the best taco truck torta in LA. And now that I have had a chance to almost finish it, I am off to my next mission in Ktown. Manna Bakery? Mr Pizza Factory? Korean BBQ? Beverly Soon Tofu House? Bonchon? I can go on and on and on, but I will not. I’ll let you dream with me for now.

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Filed under Beef, Bread, Cheese, Mexican Food, Pork, Sandwich, Sausages, Street-food

Viva Las Vegas Day Two- Harbor Dimsum

Viva Las Vegas indeed. My henna tattoo faded as fast as I swiped my card to pay for it. And the Fat Tuesday’s big jug is still full of some potent concoctions. No hangover and tennis was a blast. So time again to eat, we decided to explore Chinatown and go for some dimsum.

A Yelp freak that I am, I decided to seek help and searched for the best places to try these bite-size delights. Cathay House, DONE. But it took us forever to find this place, it was also nearly 3pm, and we were already hungry. We saw the first neon sign for dimsum and decided to stop and take a chance. Harbor Palace, let’s go.


There were only a few carts, a big difference from my usual go-to places back in Los Angeles, so we decided to hoard from the first one that visited us.

The egg rolls were cold by the time we sunk our teeth into it, maybe because we came a little too late for lunch. The spare ribs were chewy and oily good but slightly bland. The tofu with crab meat was blah, fine for the hungry. The har gow was over-filled with shrimp but the wrapper was too chewy. The shumai was cold and hard, not worth another round. The crab claw was the highlight of the meal. Unlike the sugar cane sticks I’ve had many tastes of, this one came with actual crab claw that you can suck a fat piece of meat out of, also with fillings of crab and shrimp with a crunchy coating on the outside. We had to get some more, in fact we had 7 plates of these. But they come with a price. $7 per plate that came with only 2pcs. Ouch!

The chicken feet was tender, sweet with a little spicy finish. It was cooked just right that it was easy to chew and suck the meat off each cartilage and bone.

We also ordered crab fried rice to add a much needed carb assistance to our plates. It was fine, I mean, I really can’t say anything good nor bad about the dish. It was edible yet a little bland, but came with generous servings of crab meat (and not imitation), egg, and vegetables.

So our adventures paid off well. The food was very satisfying and came with little surprises, including a pricey bill at the end of the meal. $30 per person is steep for dimsum, especially since I know I can get better quality and more delicious servings back home. I can’t wait to go back to Alhambra and Monterey Park. The crab claws threw us off a little. But what’s done is done, and we’re on vacation so c’est la vie. And when you’re in Vegas, you either go big or go home.

SIDENOTE: We had some delicious boba after, with some very interesting flavors as well. At the next door shopping center we found a little corner that sold both boba and an array of dried fruits and seafood showcased just like a candy bar. I had the fresh taro which I would consider the best I’ve tasted so far (and believe me I’ve had MANY). It was packed with flavor and the tapioca was chewy good. Bf had black sesame which was an interesting flavor, with crunchy bits of surprises with every sip. Another had the avocado which, contrary to popular misconception, does not taste like guacamole. It was creamy and sweet. Delicious.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: Dinner will be missing as I was too busy downing drinks and making shots to take some pics and even finish my cabeza burrito. Safe to say, we had Mexican food. Sad to say, our friend’s burrito got stolen inside the restaurant. He left it on the table for a few seconds just to grab a to-go bag. And when he was still waiting at the counter, other customers let us know some guy in a red baseball cap came and took it. Oh well, maybe he needed the meal more than we did. Hope he enjoyed it. Red-hat guy, if you get to read this, I’d love to know how it was. I might include it in my blog.



 

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Filed under Burrito, Chicken, Chinese Food, Crab, Dimsum, Drinks, Dumplings, Mexican Food, Pork, Shrimp, Tofu

Mayflower Seafood Restaurant, Los Angeles

Spring is in the air on Spring St in Chinatown. It may be time to smell the roses but dinner must be first priority for now, after hearing multiple complaints from an empty stomach. Inspired by the recent win of boxing great Manny Pacquiao in Texas, I was told that he frequents Mayflower for one of the best Chinese food in the area.  And of course, being a Filipino, I was more than excited to go. With the rows and rows of places to choose from, hearing of the best must not be missed. And so when it was time to pick a place, Mayflower was first in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It did not look like one of those places one would pass by and immediately want to try. The front needs a major overhaul, seriously. But a fan of hole in the wall places, this was a perfect dinner destination. The place is deceivingly bigger than its facade, with even an event hall on the side that fit 100-150people if need be.

The menu had over 400 items to pick from. But having help choosing from two regulars, the orders were flying out of the kitchen in no time.

First came the soup, lobster and fish maw soup. It needed a little bit of help from the chili oil. After a few drops and the soup was almost perfect. It came with chunks of lobster (I had a whole claw-lucky), and the fish maw was chewy but cooked perfectly. The pan-fried fish came next. It was crispy sole that came with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce. It was almost crispy enough to eat the bones; very enjoyable and clearly not enough for four people.

We had to return the house special seafood chow mein, it had a “long and black” unwanted ingredient. We suggest shaving or hair nets please. They were apologetic enough to deliver a new, clean plate (but did not take this off the bill, which I think is more than appropriate since we already started eating the noodles). Moving on, the sauce was a little bland. Understandably, it is usually thick and underseasoned, but this one really had no hand at all. The vegetables and seafood were overflowing, and were well-cooked. A very typical, unspectacular dish. Next, please.

The salt and pepper squid were overly breaded and over-cooked, chewy to the point of no return. We were excited at first glance as this dish is a staple of any Chinese restaurant, and they rarely miss the mark. Today was one of those days.


The fried pork chops were a favorite. They were lightly breaded and perfectly fried, not to oily at all with a little taste of salt that did not overpower the dish (I kept coming back for more that I felt bad for the rest of the table). Having had Newport’s and Coral Reef’s plenty of times now, I admit, I am a salt and pepper pork chop snob, but Mayflower’s was a decent plate of pork. Not as good, but holds its own very well.


At the end of the meal, they bring your dessert. A warm sweet coconut milk soup, filled with tapioca balls and bits of sweet yam. Now this was a good, much needed ending to the meal. The tapioca balls were tiny, chewy jewels that added a surprising bite, and the soup was sweet but not overly, delicious.


Inside, Pacquiao’s pictures were hanging all over the place. He wasn’t there but he was pretty much a part of the decor, therefore part of the place. No proof though, whatsoever, if he liked this place or which dish he would never leave without a taste of. But after a full stomach, it was hard to really care about that.

Outside the restaurant, spring calls once more. All four on the table needed to stand up and smell the flowers, otherwise the rest of the 395 items on the menu would be tried and tested. Giving credit to the place, it does make you want to try every bit of interesting item on the menu, even the usual fried chicken and beef and broccoli. Being so busy, it was easy to have table envy even though disappoints came one after another. The brisket over rice looked good, the house special noodle soup smelled fantastic, the house special lobster looked spicy yummy, and even the snow peas smelled garlicky addicting. Soon, spring needs to be revisited more frequently now.


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Filed under Chinese Food, Dessert, Fish, Mixed Seafood, Noodles, Pork, Pork Chops, Soup, Squid, Vegetable

The tale of two: Rick’s VS Oinkster

Yonder the green foliage and paved gray of 2S, tucked in a corner says “Voted the Best Food in LA“. O’er the bridge and a block beyond sees the blue sign and a drive-thru that entices the curiosity of any foodie alike. Rick’s, aren’t you famous for your pastrami? Oh, doubt was not in will and in mind when it was time to voice thy need. Pastrami sandwich and a veggie burger; please, oh please. Do add some zucchini and chili fries so mine heart and belly shall rise in adornment of thy morsels.

Oh let me SHUT UP! Let’s get down to business.

I was in need of a pastrami fix but I was still in my pajamas and over-sized shirt. What’s a girl to do? Dig into my foodie memory bank and be a blogger once again. Rick’s Drive In & Out? Yes! Let’s see if it’s really the best food in LA. Well, looking at the prices, it may be the best deal in LA but I need to taste it first before I even do my happy frugal dance.

This was a very simple, no-hype sandwich. There weren’t really any add-ons, it had pickles and mustard, and the rest was all meat. Beat that! The meat was a little tougher and saltier than I’m used to. I understand that I’m eating pastrami but I still have standards and preferences regardless. The bread was one tough carb though, it held up to all the juices and sauce, which was a plus for me. I want to hold my pastrami sandwich, not fork and knife it.

The veggie burger was a little dry, and the veggies were not as fresh. Maybe they didn’t have much need for it for days now? I do not know the answer, really. Honestly, I’ve had better. Blah, on to the next.

The zucchini was deep-fried to a golden crispy. Those I loved, but weren’t mine. Ugh. The chili fries were ok. It was a bad idea to do salt with salt. Salty pastrami, salty chili, salty cheese, and salty fries. No relief at all.

I had half my sandwich wasted  and was later given to my Aunt’s dogs. I felt bad, not only are they supposed to not have human food but this salty of a sandwich?  Sad, indeed. The chili fries are still in the fridge, I think? Oh well, woe is me. But I had hopes, I hoped that dinner would go ahead and redeem itself.

Lemongrass had no parking spot anywhere near it. So as we turned back, it hit us like a light bulb. Oinkster. I still had the taste of salty pastrami and chili cheese fries, so it was definitely genius that I now have the perfect opportunity to do a VS blog.

Having read many blogs about this place, I came in without expectations. Many opposing opinion from Wandering Chopsticks, Inuyaki, Sinosoul, and Burnt Lumpia, I had no choice but eat with no preconceived notions. And so we ordered.

The Oinkster pastrami had more complex flavor and additional ingredients than Rick’s pickle and mustard. Other than the tender, house-cured meat, it had a red cabbage slaw and caramelized onions that partnered well with the pastrami. The meat itself had obvious specks of black pepper and seasoning, not as salty as Rick’s. Poor bread, it could not hold up to the onslaught of meat and juices. At the second half, I had to eat the rest of my sandwich with a knife and fork, which is the opposite of what I want in my pastrami.

The veggie burger was the perfect size. Big enough for a big appetite. The vegetables were crispy and the sauce did not overpower the patty, which was not dry at all and packed with flavor. A good substitute for its meaty counterpart.

The piggy fries reminded me of In-N-Out’s animal style fries. I apologize, but it was a poor knock-off of the original. This came with caramelized onions (vs. the grilled onions), thousand island (vs. the spread), and shredded cheese (vs. the slices of cheese). It was good enough to take another bite, and another, and another. But after a few, the taste became too heavy to the tongue and overwhelming that after a while, it became untouched on the table. It didn’t help that the fries became too soggy to enjoy.

I needed reprieve from the oil and grease, so the ube shake was the right choice post pastrami and fries. It was good, with a great taste and chunks of the purple yam. But I will not give the credit to Oinkster, they use outside ice cream for their shakes (Fosselman’s).

The clear winner was Oinkster, only between these two. Ahead in taste and portion, but not by price. Compare $16 vs $33 (with tax and tip), I would be ok with a $16 lunch/dinner just to take the hunger away. Not to say that I won’t be back to either one. I love giving people and places a second chance. But a few more miles, I would’ve been at The Hat, devouring my pastrami and gravy fries with a vengeance.


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Filed under American Food, Bread, Burger, Comfort Food, Drinks, Fries, Ice Cream, Pork, Sandwich, Shake, Uncategorized

Pampa’s Grill, Farmer’s Market

(I had to put this in my blog. One of my favorite examiner articles so far-maybe because I love me Pampa’s.)

Nothing is more enticing than the smell of grilled meat. It is the ambrosia that turns heads, tilts noses up, and puts people in a complete stand still. Experience the aroma that spells meat at Pampa’s Grill at the Farmer’s Market and leave your taste buds completely tickled fancy.

Beware of the line, it will be your first obstacle. Know your hours, dinner is the worst so come prepared. Bring your most talkative friend or fully charged phones with your Facebook app in place.


What to pick? The dilemma that is choices is the next hurdle to overcome. As you take your to-go “plate” (as it is likely to not finish, better avoid the hassle and be ready to take it home) and move along, the onslaught of picks might overwhelm you as this is paid by poundage ($8.95/lb). You wouldn’t want to go heavy on the sides as the meat weighs much more but you also wouldn’t want to miss out on the entrancing colors and tastes that lay before you. The garlic rice is a must carb pairing for the salty proteins, the collard greens are garlicky, the chicken stroganoff is unremarkable but a popular choice, the eggplant salad is a refreshing side to the savory, and the Pao de Queijo (cheese bread) is a personal favorite and is always stocked to the top of the plate.

But these are only reminiscence compared to what is the ultimate comfort food here, meat-Brazilian style. Spinning all day on a rotisserie grill, their choices rival the best tailgates and backyards anywhere. And so here comes the next predicament, the meat. You may be forced to try them all, but what with the weight limiting you then pick the ones you think you’ll enjoy the most and move on. Out of the many choices of protein the Picanha (sirloin cap) is the most popular, the Carneiro (lamb leg) is highly recommended as it is both flavorful and tender, the garlic chicken and beef are personal favorites and both salty, garlicky addicting, and the Brazilian sausage is slightly spicy, well-seasoned,and a must-try.

As you hit the end, pick either their Goya coconut water or a Guarana drink to complete the experience. But coming here comes with another warning. You may think that you haven’t put enough on your plate to compare to a sit-down restaurant. This can get pricey, even though it is super fast food. And no, it’s not the plate or the container.


With the many halts Pampa’s brings to the dining table, it is hard to give them a perfect score. The crowd that forms at the blink of an eye, the wait made by fellow confused diners, the price that better suits a restaurant, and the impasse at the line of wondrous food make one wonder if it’s worth it to try. But the many upsides make it then all the more difficult to decide to go or not. Taste over lines? Meat over prices? Comfort over choices? If the craving hits then live a little. Go meat and meatlovers unite.

Pampa’s Grill is at the Farmer’s Market at 6333 W 3rd St LA, T: (323)931-1928. They accept major credit cards.

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Filed under BBQ, Beef, Brazilian Food, Bread, Chicken, Drinks, Lamb, Pork, Related Article, Sausages

Kogi, Anywhere in Southern Cali

It started with a mere rumor that became an interest that became a goal then finally a chase. I didn’t really chase the Kogi truck everywhere but I did follow it on twitter, if only to put a notch on my belt and say…”yah foos, I just did kogi”. I was actually more annoyed at the fact that for a proud foodie, I was last in Southern Cali to have one. UGH. Fudge that.

4374 Eagle Rock blvd., YES, it was in my neighborhood. As we pass the “Roja” Kogi truck, all that was running around my tiny brain space was PARKING SPACE!!! But luckily we parked near Rambo’s (another famous late night taco truck), got out, and went in line. Surprisingly it was not as bad as I expected. It was slightly a family affair, even mothers taking pictures of their kids in line and in front of the Roja truck that just parked. We had a conversation going with a former Korean local that has a Mexican restaurant in Vegas (how ironic, huh). We were both in line to try the hype, to test the popularity, and to taste the fad. So here we go.


“Azul” (the truck-in-training) pulls up, parks, and the prep time begins. Roja did start taking orders first and the menu was simple enough. If you have twitter, they do post the specials of the day including dessert. Yum. I was surprised that parking to prep to order and service was not a wait at all, in fact we did wait longer in line than to order and get our food. Short rib tacos, spicy pork tacos, kimchi quesadillas, and tofu burrito. I will come back in line for the Kogi sliders (short rib burgers with a spicy sauce) and the Kogi dog (hotdog, mexi-korean style). Those made my mouth salivate and my tummy rumble a little bit. But I wanted to try their popular and more interesting dishes first.The food comes unpacked, if you want it to-go (as we did) pull a couple of pieces of foil, get a bag, take your utensils, which are all available at the front of the truck and bag the food yourself. I didn’t really mind. They were nice enough to give us extra radish, lime, and orange wedges. So off we went.


The short rib tacos were tender, a little spicy with a little bit of tang. It was a little too much on a tiny piece of tortilla but I didn’t mind. I picked up fallen pieces of short rib on my plate and enjoyed the moment. The spicy pork taco was not spicy at all, given the mexi-korean style I was expecting explosion and an immediate need for a diet coke extinguisher, but was disappointed. The pork was tender and mild at best. Both tacos came with the same veggie slaw and sauce, which were alright. Slightly different from the original Mexican flavor but did work well with the meat. The kimchi quesadilla was a nice surprise. Interesting but in a very, very good, delicious way. The tortilla was perfectly cooked, the kimchi was excellent, the sauce was a little spicy but not to complain about. But my best bite so far was the tofu burrito. Silky tofu, melted cheese, a sweet yet somewhat spicy sauce inside a huge tortilla, definitely worth more than the 5bucks I paid for it. I can’t wait to go to Costco one day to find these in the frozen section, ready for my microwave otherwise I would like to petition for Kogi to follow me everyday just in case the craving hits.

The tacos did under deliver, probably because the hype made me expect so much that the disappointment was very much expected. I would order the short rib again, but only because of the “I waited in line for Kogi so I better get a taste of it anyway”. But the highlights were the quesadilla and the burrito. So next time I wait, I know what my purpose would be. Not for the rumor, the interest, the chase, or the hype but more of the food. I mean, really now, isn’t that what we should be after in the first place?


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Filed under BBQ, Beef, Burrito, Fusion Food, Mexican Food, Pork, Taco, Tofu