9. La Mascota Bakery – Tamales ($1.50): This Boyle Heights institution dates to 1952. The air is thick with the enticing aroma of fresh baked pan dulce, and if you ask, they’ll retrieve house-made tamales from the back. Each tamale is cradled in plastic wrapped corn husks, which steam fluffy masa folded with various ingredients. I enjoyed one tamale with a liberal helping of molten Monterey jack, spicy sliced jalapenos, and light tomato sauce. Even better was the pork tamale with tender chunks of shredded pork shoulder slathered with a mildly spicy salsa crafted from deep red chiles California.
10. Mariscos Jalisco – Taco Dorado ($2): Raul Ortega, a native of San Juan de los Lagos in northwest Jalisco, rolled out his first truck in Boyle Heights to start the 21st Century, specializing in seafood cocktails, tostadas, and one terrific Taco Dorado. The specialty features a deep-fried corn tortilla filled with shrimp, vegetables and tomato, a topping of creamy, fresh-shucked avocado and a mild slurry of tomato and raw white onion. Better yet, by teaming with Chuy Tovar, Angelenos can now find a second truck in downtown’s Fashion District.
11. Old Sasoon Bakery – Zahtar, Chile, Onion Flatbread ($1.50): Haroutioun Geragosian began working at a bakery in Aleppo, Syria, at age 13 in order to supply his family with bread. He absorbed baking knowledge and opened Old Sasoon Bakery in 1948, naming it for an Armenia village that his grandparents left after World War II. He relocated his family and bakery to Pasadena in 1986, selling just lahmajunes, cheese and spinach beorags. Son Joseph Geragosian is now in charge of daily operations. Zahtar, Chile and Onion bread is basically a zahtar-lined manaiesh with the added bonus of hot pepper paste and onions. The color is incredible, a rich burgundy, and the bread has a nice spice kick.
12. Plan Check – Miscellaneous Salmon Part ($1): The Fairfax iteration of Plan Check features a glass front, rectangular cushioned booths, a central bar with flat screen TVs and seating on both sides, and steel beams framing rows of Edison bulbs. Salmon Pastrami is a new standout entree, including pastrami-spiced salmon, inky cream cheese and an everything bagel chip. Even better, chef Ernesto Uchimura has leftover salmon trim to serve. To limit waste and to salvage food cost, he offers a late-night Miscellaneous Salmon Part for $1. A part of his choosing, which could be a tail, fin, head or belly, is miso marinated, cooked off and finished with wasabi and furikake, and served in skillet with squeeze of lemon.