Anger Burger

Posted by Sunday on Sep 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

When we first moved to Los Angeles we fell prey to what I briefly and angrily called “Mexican Fake-Outs.”  They would appear to be Mexican restaurants, and with names like “Los Burritos” you’d be a fool not to expect burritos, right?  But of course not.  Inside you’d find a sort of peculiar, vaguely Mexican breakfast and burger joint.  A diner, sort of.  With some Mexican foods on the menu of course, and staffed by Mexican people, and frequented by Mexican patrons.  But if you actually wanted to eat Mexican food, you would not pick these places.

It wasn’t until Mike the Viking christened them “dinerias” that my brain re-oriented itself.

They are not Mexican restaurants.  They are diners run by Mexicans.  And they are everywhere.  They are more prevalent than 7-11s.  They are the bodegas of Los Angeles, except you can’t buy cigarettes or beer or anything.  But you can get pastrami burritos.  I swear it!  I’ve never ordered one, but almost every dineria has them.  Also what many of them refer to as “California Burritos” which are burritos with french fries inside.  Mike swears by these, but I still have dignity so I haven’t eaten one.

Anyway, the menus are expansive and confusing and it’s often best to order without even looking at them.  Our favorite of the dinerias is Tom’s #7, also referred to by us as “Crash Test Tom’s.

Their menu says that you can only have breakfast until noon, but we know better.  Last time Mike was there in the afternoon he ordered a burger, turned around to leave and saw a man eating a delicious-looking chicken-fried steak.  Aghast, Mike asked the man “You can order breakfast after noon?!” and the man shrugged and said, “I did, yeah.  I drove all the way¹ from Studio City for their chicken-fried steak!”  Mike says he didn’t even remember how his burger tasted because he was so sad he didn’t know he could get chicken-fried steak.

It may look a little pedestrian, but it’s a solid specimen.  The gravy is not gluey-tasting, but sausagey, peppery and milky.  The eggs were perfectly cooked, the hashbrowns good enough, and the steak itself was very tender.  It had a cornmeal crust on it that I found disappointing because I dislike cornmeal crust, but Mike enjoyed it and that’s really what matters.

His hot sauce application cracks me up.

My avocado burger was excellent.  It’s nothing special, but it was precisely how I like it.  The bun was perfectly toasted, there was just the right amount of sauce and there was at least a half an avocado on the thing.  I have simple wants when it comes to avocado burgers, and that’s it.

It’s a great relief knowing that Tom’s #7 exists.  Anyone who has ever had a hangover knows that nothing cures like having both huevos rancheros and a chocolate milkshake in the same place at the same time.
¹ “All the way” makes us laugh because Studio City is maybe 4 miles away, but Angelinos are funny about distances.

September 23rd, 2011 | Eatin' Fancy, Food Rant

13 Responses to

  1. Mary-Heather says:

    Burritos with fries inside = kind of brilliant. Here in New Mexico there’s a place that will top your burrito with curly fries, green chile sauce, and cheese. God Bless America, srsly.

  2. James says:

    My only question is in regards to the man/woman who crashed into Tom’s #7: Why did they have so much trash in their car?! In the picture, it looks like they opened the door and an entire recycling bin’s worth of cans and bottles fell out.

    • quagmire says:

      My thoughts exactly James. From the look of it [link jump in article], the driver either got some shit stuck under the gas pedal or reachin’ down for another FourLoco … probably both, perfect (idiot)storm!

    • Sunday says:

      Yeah, I notice this a lot in L.A. – not that the cars have crashed, but I reguarly see cars parked that are 1/2 full of garbage.

  3. Kristina says:

    We have a Mexican drive-thru (a real Mexican restaurant which happened to take over a failed burger joint) that sells breakfast burritos at the drive up window, all the typical ingredients but for the potatoes they used chopped up french fries. I once asked them to live the fries whole in mind, if they could, because as you’re driving and you need to eat on the go, the bits of fries don’t fly out if they stay long and whole. Every one we’ve ordered after that (which isn’t tht terribly often, maybe 3-4 times a year) has fries which have been left whole without asking, as was the long bacon strip. I like to think my brilliance changed their entire way of thinking.

    Mike’s hot sauce application suits me just fine. I want a slight taste of it — I want to taste creamy yolk and not a whole bunch of sauce, but a nice bite is good, so I get this.

    The Studio City comment cracked me up.

  4. eileen says:

    Can we please get some of your dinerias magically transported up to Silicon Valley? Please? Because we have NO DINERS and it is horrifying.

    I would definitely eat the fry burrito. Absolutely. Dignity be damned.

  5. Raine says:

    That avocado burger looks good…I have to get past my Filipino thing for avocados as dessert (we never ever eat it in any other way except mashed with sugar, milk and crushed ice.)

    • Sunday says:

      I remember the first time I’d even heard of an avocado milkshake about 7 or 8 years ago. They had them at a Vietnamese restaurant and I was so amazed at the idea of a sweet avocado that I ordered it even though my dining companions though it was total madness. And it was of course fucking delicious and they kept trying to steal it from me. Americans still have a lot to learn about avocadoes.

      • Raine says:

        As do Filipinos it seems. I remember my first encounter with a bowl of guacamole (thought bubble, ‘The Exorcist!’) but I actually loved it. :-)

  6. mel says:

    here in san francisco all the best diners are run by chinese or vietnamese or korean or japanese people. it is wonderful because you can get chicken fried steak or bi bim bap or short ribs over rice for your breakfast/lunch. we do not have any of these dinerias, but it sounds like we need one post haste!

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