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Dia De Los Puercos Makes a Massive Mochmos, Eggs, and Fries Burrito That’s Worth the Drive to Pomona

[dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]hef Rick Garcia is like Sonny from A Bronx Tale in a black button-up and neck tattoos, and his “Homie” is a massive burrito made with a 14-inch tortilla, stuffed with mochomos, refried beans, hand-cut fries, pasilla crema, guaca salsa, salsa roja, cotija, and two fried eggs.

"Roll it all up and you got yourself a new homie,” Garcia says with a grin.

Like Sonny, Garcia – known as “El Chefe” by his staff – is charming, tough, street smart. He is also funny, warm, and welcoming to all who enter Dia De Los Puercos – a little slice of East L.A. that he and his wife Nicole have recently transported to Downtown Pomona.

Chef Rick Garcia with his tinga tostadas. Photo by Erick Galindo.

It originally started in 2013 as a taco truck in East L.A. that only sold pork-based tacos. It roamed all over Los Angeles until finally moving to a brick and mortar in 2016 in West Covina. The new Dia De Los Puercos moved to Pomona in September and it is stunning, with two bars, a large dining room, and beautiful L.A. street art all over. “We outgrew West Covina,” Garcia explained, so much so that they also have a second location inside the Riverside Food Lab, the Inland Empire’s first food hall.

“When I was young sitting there in juvenile hall, I never would have imagined I’d ever be a business owner,” he told L.A. Taco in a recent interview at the Pomona location.

Photo by Erick Galindo.

Garcia grew up in El Sereno, raised by his single grandmother. He was in a crew – skating at first – and gave his grandmother “a bunch of headaches.” Garcia told L.A. Taco that he was shot, stabbed, jumped, and spent some time locked up before realizing that his ticket out of trouble was his grandmother’s kitchen.

“I stopped going out, getting in trouble, hanging out with my friends, and started asking her questions in the kitchen,” he recalled. “I started to realize that when I was with her learning to cook in the kitchen, I didn’t need to worry about anything else.”

Garcia was inspired to go to culinary school. After graduation, he worked his way up to executive task force chef with the Hilton Corporation before quitting to start, with Nicole, Dia De Los Puercos as a food truck.

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[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]owntown Pomona has such a classic small-town vibe that when you walk in from 2nd into Dia De Los Puercos, the mural of the old 6th Street Bridge makes you do a double take. In the same instance, you feel like you’re entering Boyle Heights from the Arts District and like you’re in some Midwest town’s dream of L.A.

“My wife is from East L.A. and she’s responsible for a lot of the art and feel that you see,” Garcia told L.A. Taco. “She’s the boss here. I just work in the kitchen.”

But what really makes you feel like you’re back in your old neighborhood, is the food. Dia De Los Puercos specializes in what they call “Comida Xicana” – a style of Mexican food that’s a combination of Garcia’s classic Cordon Bleu training, abuelita’s kitchen, and L.A. street food.  

El Homie. Courtesy of Dia De Los Puercos.
El Homie burrito at Dia De los Puercos in Pomona. Courtesy of DDLP.

El Homie – the burrito he created one day when he felt like he wanted a friend – is a perfect example of this hybrid style. Garcia’s mochomos originally come from an old family recipe. Mochomos are a street food specialty of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Chihuahua that are typically dried and shredded beef or pork, according to Garcia. His take is on the Chihuahua version – which is typically more like a pork jerky – but slow-cooked for hours and then fried on the griddle until crispy.

“It’s not a confit, or cooked in its own fat, like carnitas – mochomos is a slow-braised process,” Garcia explained. “We braise the mochomos for about five hours, bone in, until it just falls off the bone. When we get an order, we put it on the plancha with oil, garlic, salt, and other seasonings. So when you bite it, on the outside it's really crispy and on the inside it just falls apart.”

The mixture of textures in the mochomos is heightened by the french fries rolling around with the very gooey goodness of huevos estrellados con salsa y frijoles – a meal many of us growing up in Mexican households know as comfort food. “My grandma used to make me these burritos with papas and eggs in them, every morning. So that’s where the fries come from,” Garcia said.

Like a lot of our homies from the neighborhood, this burrito packs a punch but it’s so damn good, it’s worth riding for – even all the way to Pomona.

El FLAHCO. Photo by Erick Galindo.

Dia De Los Puercos also has a fantastic Flamin' Hot Cheetos taco known as “El FLAHCO.” It too does a lot with textures and is very pretty to look at. You’d think a Hot Cheeto tortilla would be too much, but the taco is actually perfectly balanced. And even though, it’s covered in red Cheetos crumbs, the added flavor is subtle and adds a rewarding aftertaste. This also comes from Garcia's childhood of eating Hot Cheetos with everything.

Garcia brings this creativity to the bar menu as well. His micheladas come with a saladito and chamoy all along the rim. A La Piña is a hard pineapple cocktail mixed with MD 20/20. And then there's the Horchake, an horchata made with cinnamon sake, mazapan, and lechera – sweetened condensed milk.

Taquitos de Weenie. Photo by Erick Galindo.

The one item on the menu that really makes grandma proud is the Taquitos de Weenie. Garcia grew up eating tacos made with wieners as the protein – a quick, inexpensive meal. The taquitos at Dia De Los Puercos are rolled in handmade tortillas, fried, and topped with ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, cotija, and grilled onions. “So it's kind of got that street dog flavor, but you have a tortilla instead of a hot dog bun,” Garcia explained.

He said grandma was skeptical about his take at first, but gave the nod after trying them. “She texts me now and then that she’s proud of me,” Garcia said. “That, and knowing my kids, and my wife Nicole – who has been a huge part of all this – are proud of me, makes it all worth it. I’d rather have that than a paycheck. Well, than a paycheck every other week, because you know a paycheck is a paycheck.”

RELATED: This Legendary Breakfast Burrito Shack in Burbank Has a Hard Stop-Time of 11 O’Clock

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