Day 6: Manuel’s El Tepeyac Cafe

Growing up,  if my family ever found ourselves in the vicinity of East L.A. at dinnertime there was only one place to go, El Tepeyac.  My father discovered the place when he was at the L.A. Police Academy (a job that didn’t last long) as a place that all the cops liked to eat at.  Thirty years later, Manuel still fondly calls my dad “Beachboy” knowing he lives on the Westside. 

My father and brother would get the famous Hollenbeck Burrito and I would always get the Taquitos a tradition that my ten year old is carrying on…  I don’t know what they do to make the guacamole so fantastic? Maybe because it’s texture is thick and not watered down like you find in most restaurants or that they are generous and not putting a miniscule drop of it on the plate, but just the thought of it makes my stomach grumble as I pass the Soto St. exit off the 10 freeway.  

The Hollenbeck  Burrito with its topping of cheesy, brothy, beefy deliciousness (photo below is from their website) is definitely a two person meal and the Manuel Special, I’d say a meal for a week!  They used to say if you could finish the Manuel Special by yourself, you would get another one free, though I never understood the logic in that.  I guess it was the original “Man vs. Food”.  

There is always a long line waiting for the sit down service, so we usually find ourselves at the takeout window on the other side of the restaurant and eat there.  Not for the feint of heart or for the girl who wants a salad and a glass of wine for dinner.  This is serious Mexican food, prepared the same way it was when I was a kid in a part of town that is sketchy at best, but oh man it’s worth it!

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