El Tepeyac Café
812 North Evergreen Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 268-1960.

With a reputation that extends throughout Southern California, El Tepeyac is truly an institution. The customers that line up daily to quench their burrito thirst are so loyal that owner Manuel Rojas could probably start his own church. Manuel's Special, over five pounds worth of ingredients that fill two tortillas to near bursting, is the Mount Everest of burritos. It was created when Manny bet someone that they could not finish one of his burritos. He won. The machaca burrito at El Tepeyac might be the single best reason for visiting Southern California. It shows an unusual degree of character and depth for a burrito composed of only meat, eggs, cheese, and a tortilla. Meanwhile, Manny's relentless chatter keeps the atmosphere inside his restaurant festive. In addition, the sizzling excitement of the frantic and noisy kitchen usually manages to spill over into the smiles on customers' faces. In typical sarcastic fashion, Manny recounted his restaurant's history for us: "My mom was the boss for 43 years, but she died and now my daughter is boss. I'm a slave."

All material ©1998 Gibbs Smith, Publisher