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Food

Recession Obsession: Highland Park's El Huarache Azteca

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Dear Recession -- With leading economists recent declaration that our great nation has been in one of you since December 2007, our emergence into December 2008 can only mean one thing. It’s time to celebrate your first birthday. Happy Birthday Recession!

From your ballooning unemployment figures to your skyward-reaching bailout figures -- my how you’ve grown! Let’s celebrate this epic first year with a meal. I know we’re pinching pennies, but don’t worry, I’ve got the perfect spot. C’mon, this is Los Angeles. We’re home to The $1,000 T-shirt, the Trophy Wife and The World Class $6 Meal. We’ll spend less than the cost of a movie ticket and feast on the cheap.

--Your friend, Caleb Bacon

Throw a stone from Eagle Rock and you’ll hit LAist's latest Recession Obsession: El Huarache Azteca. This well-loved Highland Park eatery draws its name from the beach footwear whose shape and name it shares with its signature dish. Good news -- these huaraches (which look like anorexic Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas,) are adorned with meat, cilantro, cheese and crema. They're only $2.50 each!

The huarache is ideal for carnivores. Meat options range from the head of a Jersey cow (cabeza) to non-loco chicken (pollo,) to tasty pork (adobado) to a lightly fried version of the very same animal’s skin (chicharron.) Its slight flaccidity is an asset, and nothing like a pork rind.

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For The Plant Minded

If you’re an herbivore, your World Class $6 Meal can be found Saturdays. A woman who I’d bet would win Top Chef (okay, at least place or show) works out front at a weekend-only cart. Her specialty? Huitlacoche quesadillas, of course! They’re one of my favorite culinary discoveries of The Official Recession.

This quesadilla’s like none I’ve experienced. Its puffy texture seems a Latin cousin of filo dough; its warm cheese hugs that dough like a Latin lover. They could contain pretty much anything and I’d love them but they’re huitlacoche-filled (just don’t look that up on Wikipedia -- it’s English translation is rough.) Senora Top Chef will replace the huitlacoche with some meat if you ask nicely.

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Back to Huarache Aztec

Huarache Azteca offers a full menu but it’s not for those traditional items that the restaurant is wallpapered with gushing clippings. Please do enjoy the hard-to-find titular dish. It’s probably the cheapest eat on Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold’s famed LA99 list.

El Huarache Azteca is cash only. Good thing because even in this economy it’s embarrassing to put $6 on the Amex. C’mon -- don’t tell me you want to charge $6 for “the miles.” $6 worth of frequent flier miles won’t get you out of Dodgers Stadium’s parking lot.

Just like Randy Newman, I love LA. There’s no better city to celebrate the recession. If you don’t live next to Highland Park, remember gas is under $2/gallon.

  • El Huarache Azteca #1 Highland Park (Eagle Rock Area) | 5225 York Blvd | Los Angeles 90042 | (323) 478-9572 | Hours: 9 a.m. - 9 pm. daily

Photos by Caleb Bacon for LAist