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You Can't Find Decent Mexican on Olvera Street

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Olvera Street is known as the birthplace of Los Angeles. Located near the corner of Cesar Chavez and Alameda streets downtown, it’s kind of like a Latin version of the Farmer's Market on Fairfax with a lot more trinkets and a lot less fruit.

LAist likes to walk Olvera every now and then for the pure kitsch factor (Lucha Libre masks abound, and are usually under $20), but we certainly don't go there for the Mexican food. Of all places in Los Angeles, you’d think you could find a decent burrito or enchiladas somewhere amongst the sit-down restaurants and little taco stands. Palatable Mexican should be a stone's throw away from anywhere you stand on Olvera Street, but unfortunately, no one can throw that far.

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We tried again on a recent Friday afternoon and hit up one of the street’s larger restaurants – El Paseo Inn – and failed, again.

It started out promising though: The chips were fresh and the salsa was spicy. Taking this as a good sign, we went ahead and ordered a simple, wet chicken burrito with rice and beans. When the plate arrived, the beans looked like they’d been poured fresh from a Smart and Final can; the rice had no flavor. And for a price tag of $12, you’d think you’d get a mongo burrito and take home half for later. Not the case. We’ve had egg rolls bigger than this burrito.

During this particular luncheon, our large party of 14 was celebrating a special occasion, so we weren’t paying much attention to the wandering minstrels in the restaurant. But they were paying attention to us, especially when it came time to collecting donations. They waved the money baskets in front of us like the ushers at church – and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Now the smaller stands along the street might be cheaper, but the fare's no better. We've tried enchiladas swimming in grease at a number of them. We picked up a simple "conchita," which is usually a light and tasty sweet roll. The one we picked up was about as appetizing as that Yum Yum donut sitting on your boss's desk from yesterday morning.

Now LAist knows that this suggestion might be a bit sacrilegious, but why not open a Poquito Mas or Chipotle on Olvera Street? The food's better than what's out there now.

If you've actually had a decent meal on Olvera Street, then LAist wants to hear from you.

Photo by RobDog01 via flickr.

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