Bill Esparza wrote a glowing article about the truck in 2019, but I have not noticed much about the new restaurant since and nothing on either here so I figured I would start a new topic for this very good restaurant.
When you walk through the door of the bright orange Compton facade, it is not surprising to find complex stews, moles, and weekend specials. The half-open kitchen is huge after all, and plenty of staff are usually there over steaming pots and flaming grills. But the history of Antojitos Los Cuates Jaliscienses is where the surprises start, for none of these beautiful dishes were introduced to Los Angeles through this well-equipped kitchen.
Before the upgrade, these same dishes were being sold out of the window of a food truck that plied its trade most days just south of here on Rosecrans Avenue. Even back then, the hyper-regional food of southern Jalisco and Ciudad Guzmán was almost short sold by the title including “antojitos.” In their new cenaduría opened in the first weeks of 2020, the dishes have a chance to shine even brighter when not served in takeout containers.
Photographs from that mountainous Jalisciense town of the owner’s family now dress up the windows in front, while the recipes fill the kitchen. Close to the small coastal state of Colima, sometimes these dishes overlap and complement, every once in a while you may find something like the shredded chicken stew cuachala.
One dish that is often a weekend (or Thursday) special is now available every day that Los Cuates are open: their magnificent pozole blanco ($12.99, above), served with tasty tostadas and all the necessary adornment. The pork stew could fix the worst of days, full of bones and chopped up parts. The large order makes sure you get a nice hunk of pork spine. They use big kernals of maiz morado, of which thin slivers of purple come through in the end product, which tastes even more full of corn flavor. Squeeze in some lime and add onions and chopped cabbage.
Los Cuates Jaliscienses also makes a popular menudo blanco that is available on weekends. For weekday takeaway lunch give the enchiladas de mole ($10, above) available with either pollo or picadillo. If you are not eating in the restaurant, these of course deserve to be consumed immediately in your car or five minutes away in the East Rancho Dominguez Park, which also will afford you a couple options for refrescos and atoles from the park’s daily vendors.
Four thickly-stuffed tubes are swimming in a lovely pool of slightly sweet dark brown mole, another flavor you might find in the towns of Jalisco near Colima. You can barely see the mole underneath the dense bed of cabbage that is laid on top of the enchiladas, but this is an important part of each bite, adding a crisp freshness. Also make sure to enjoy the fresh queso seco that the chef imports from his hometown and sprinkles on many dishes like this.
You will also find it topping the simple but flavorful flautas de pollo ($10, above). These were replated at home with the separately-packed ingredients but are much more beautiful and elegant when presented hot in front of you at the restaurant.
They do not offer flautas with other ingredients, so you immediately know they are taking care of the ones they do well. This is another good order for folks still preferring takeout and easy enough to eat standing up or in other non-table positions.
Clockwise from top: trompa, pata, cuero, lomo.
On a recent visit, it was desired to put together an order that could try their delicious hand-made tostadas specially imported for one dish. If there is one, this is a dish that gives the word antojito a bit more force. In Jalisco, the skin, hooves, and snout are pickled and chopped up before being placed on special tostadas raspadas, which can also be eaten with lean cuts or shredded lomo.
Unfortunately the imported tostadas did not make their way into the bag with the rest of the ingredients, forcing a trip to the grocery to improvise with regular tostadas. These are much smaller than the large discs these would normally be served on, but did the trick to make sure the meats did not go to waste.
For takeout, each separate ingredient is packed individually and can be assembled later. Lay down a thin layer of beans directly on the tostada, add cabbage then the topping of your choice (the one above is trompa, or snout). A thin homemade tomato salsa is included with orders of most items here and should be drizzled on top of the tostadas along with crema and their queso seco.
When things get better and being mask-less around others is no longer spreading a virus, another visit to have the proper tostadas is very much something to look forward to for 2021.
Antojitos Los Cuates Jaliscienses, 1811 N. Long Beach Blvd., Compton