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Highlights from the Rogue 99: Introducing the Contributor Writers From Boyle Heights Beat

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Rogue 99 has always been a collaborative effort and this year is no different. The following highlights were all written by some intrepid high school students from the lauded Boyle Heights Beat. The news publication is produced by youth from the community it serves and has been known to break some major local news in Boyle Heights. Under the Rogue 99 editors' guidance, BHB reporters Andrea Galdamez, Andy Garcia, Valentina Guevara-Hernandez, Azucena Hilario, and Noemi Pedraza contributed to L.A. Taco's list of the essential restaurants in Los Angeles for 2019.

Good luck to these budding food writers in their future endeavors.


Grand Central Market image

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Grand Central Market

A little more than a century ago, Grand Central Market opened to fulfill the grocery needs of the WASPy bourgeois of Bunker Hill. However, as the population began to diversify mid-century, so did the market, adding more prepared-food stalls and Mexican and Central American grocers. Downtown L.A. continues to be a place of great diversity and Grand Central Market, through all its growing pains in the last decade, finally reflects that – though it has gotten pricey again. The lunchtime experience is chaotic, so go in with a plan of attack; the bright neon signs, a lease requirement for each vendor, help with navigation. To fully understand the contemporary market, visitors need to visit both the new and “legacy” stalls. Chinatown Cafe, one of the market’s oldest vendors, is always busy and lightning-quick. A new customer favorite is Sari Sari, with its colorful rice bowls and indulgent Filipino desserts. Kismet Falafel and DTLA Cheese are comfort-food standouts, as is Ana Maria, where you should get a gordita. The market has gotten a little Disney-fied under the current owners, but the food is still great. – Noemi Pedraza

317 S. Broadway, Downtown

Guerrilla Tacos

Going from taco truck to sit-down restaurant is a rare success story in the food world. But Wes Avila made it happen with Guerrilla Tacos, gaining enough popularity and goodwill to make it happen at a buzzy Arts District intersection. The brick and mortar is still playful and personal like a food truck: food is served on trays, rather than plates; the walls are covered in murals (including a sweet homage to Jonathan Gold); the “cochiloco” cocktail is served in a ceramic pig. The food is very Angeleno, using ingredients and techniques from all over the world. Try the sweet potato tacos with feta and corn, the pork with pickled persimmons, or the potato taquitos. Those aren’t unusual, but they are a nod to L.A. taco culture. – Andy Garcia

2000 E 7th St., Downtown
(213) 375-3300

Pho 87 image

Photo Credit: Brian Feinzimer

Pho 87

At first glance, one might miss Pho 87, a restaurant tucked into the corner of North Broadway and Cottage Home Street on the northern end of Chinatown, but it’s worth scanning the street to find it. For only $10, you can enjoy a very good bowl of pho. Number one on Pho 87’s list of 26 pho bowls is their specialty, a comforting pho dac biet, made with beefy broth, rice noodles and a combination of beef cuts, including brisket, flank and tripe, served with bean sprouts, jalapeno slices and limes. Pho 87 also serves oxtail pho, making it one of the few places in Los Angeles that does so. The 84-item menu serves a variety of other Vietnamese dishes, including goi cuon (spring rolls). The restaurant’s close proximity to Dodger Stadium makes it a regular destination for Dodger players and fans alike; indeed, the walls of 87, adorned with pictures of notable visitors the restaurant has hosted, burst with an enormous amount of Dodger pride. Pho 87 has provided Angelenos with a space for classic dishes for decades — since 1987! — and in that time, it has secured its reputation as having one of the best bowls of pho in L.A. — Valentina Guevara-Hernandez

1019 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012, Chinatown
(323) 227-0758

Guelaguetza image

Photo Credit: Gabriel Carbajal


Guelaguetza opened in Koreatown in 1994, a year after the original owner, Fernando Lopez, migrated to the U.S from Oaxaca, Mexico, bringing his cache of traditional recipes with him. The restaurant became widely regarded as the best Oaxacan option in the city, which is a big deal: L.A. has a large Oaxacan population, and plenty of places serving Oaxacan food. Over the years the restaurant became best known for its moles, ranging from the spicy-sweet mole negro to coloradito, one of the most complex dishes known to man. Guelaguetza serves other dishes, like the customer-favorite tlayuda, a large, thin and crunchy tortilla which is toasted with a bean spread, quesillo, cabbage and meat. Chapulines come in two different forms, “chapulines a la mexican,” sauteed with jalapenos, onions and tomatoes and the simpler “plato de chapulines,” sauteed with salt and pepper in olive oil. On the sweet side, there’s nicuatole, a jelly-like dessert made from maize and sugar, and drinks like agua de chilacayote (a type of pumpkin) and horchata sweetened with tunas, the sweet fruit from from cacti. It’s a big menu. It might take 25 years to try everything. – Azucena Hilario

3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
(213) 427-0608

Hawkins House of Burgers image

Photo Credit: Cesar Hernandez

Hawkins House of Burgers

When the smell of bacon fills the street, you know you have arrived at Hawkins House of Burgers. Hawkins stands at the edge of the neighborhood of Watts in South Los Angeles, and there’s almost always a line of customers waiting to order from the menu that includes some of the best burgers in town, chili fries, waffles, and the “house breakfast” all created with homestyle recipes. The roots of this family restaurant were established in 1939, when Cynthia Hawkins’s father opened it as a small food stand; nowadays, Cynthia Hawkins owns and runs the place herself. While remaining a small business, over the years it’s grown into a neighborhood treasure for burgers with buttery, toasted bread, Angus beef patties, and variety of toppings that can be added (including applewood smoked bacon, which is so popular throughout the menu that you could say it’s essential to the Hawkins experience). There are behemoth specialty burgers, too, like the Colossal, the Whipper, and Leaning Tower of Watts, which carries three half-pound patties and is taller than a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. And we can’t forget about their most popular drink: The lemonade with tiny chunks of strawberries, so it tastes especially sweet and juicy. And the employees are super friendly and take every demand seriously: They will not let you leave until you are satisfied with your meal. — Andrea Galdamez

11603 Slater St, Los Angeles, CA 90059, Watts
(323) 563-1129

RELATED: A Note: Congratulations to the Kitchens and Cooks in This Year's Rogue 99 Dining List!

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