Bring dollars. Leave sleepy
4432 San Fernando Rd. (@ Chevy Chase, in Glendale)
Phone: 818-246-9701 | map
I had no suspicion of the fact that the area up and to the right of Atwater was once called the Tropico District, founded in 1887 and incorporated as an independent municipality in 1911. I personally like the sound of it: "I'm taking Rico and the girls over to the Tropico District, you want any orchids, bamboo furniture or catamaran parts while I'm out?"
This is what you might ponder as you inhale the food from this most enthusiastically lauded Mexican stand.
El Sauz is a colorful but decidedly un-climate-controlled box of wood paneling and orange brick, the no-frills tables and chairs making it seem smaller. People crowd around the tiny pair of order/pickup windows. Speaking Spanish is a bonus, but the menu is brief: five dollar burritos, tacos a little over a buck twenty.
So, wow. The two or three people working behind the windows are very skilled at drawing maximum essence from cooked meat. My carne asada taco was gone in seconds, but I remember there being some really savory beef in there, humming in harmony with the cilantro and onion and dripping nectar onto my paper plate. The pollo taco, too, is miles ahead of average, chopped fine and layered with a vibrant green salsa.
I always try an al pastor burrito where one is available, and this one needs its own paper towel rack. The thin-skinned tortilla is bunched up, showing patches of orange. The al pastor is very similar to the asada, being sleepy with juices and more concerned with the soul of the meat than its seasoning. There is a strong presence of pinto beans, big shards of white onion, and a shrug of cheese.
Putting down this burrito runs great risk of sudden disassembly (such as if one is writing notes), as the bottom end collects a ruddy pool of saturated peril. Not finishing the last five bites is probably wise, but I am not wise.
On a lighter note, the Tostada de Camaron is a citrusy blast, the crisp corn tortilla getting deluged with the makings of ceviche. The tiny pink tails of shrimp are dusted with cilantro and basically need a fork.
El Sauz is cash-only, but there's a parking lot and plenty of seating, so it's a fair trade as you ponder where your upcoming nap is going to occur.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock )
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