by Richard Guzmán | LADowntownNews.com
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – I wasn’t sure what to make of El Coche the first time I saw it at the food court level of City National Plaza.
It’s designed and accessorized to resemble a food truck. My first reaction was to laugh and shake my head at the irony of a “brick and mortar” restaurant in a food mall using the street food truck craze as a gimmick to get customers. It’s like dressing in Ed Hardy gear and pretending to be a gangsta. It just doesn’t fly.
The tables are made from old milk crates and the floor is faded to look like the street so you can pretend that it’s the real deal and you’re sitting in some gritty Downtown industrial corner eating your lunch. The counter, with its silver textured wall and flip up windows, is supposed to resemble the truck itself I guess.
But at least they’re trying to emulate the old school taco trucks that are just as good as the new trendy versions but don’t get much attention from hip foodies, so I decided to give it a try.
Now I’m not saying this place blew my mind or that I’ll never get the carne asada tacos from some of the authentic old school trucks that usually park around the Warehouse District, but El Coche was actually pretty good.
The menu was a bit more authentic than the fake surroundings, with staple items like beef, pastor, fish and chicken tacos (1.50), sopes ($2.50), burritos ($4.99), and tortas ($4.99) with the choice of the aforementioned meats.
I tried the beef burrito, which comes with salsa, rice and beans. It’s a big burrito, especially for the $4.99 price and topped with the fresh hot salsa they serve, it was a respectable lunch. I also ordered beef and al pastor tacos. They’re a little bigger than the typical lunch truck tacos and the meat is well prepared and worth the $1.50. The pastor was far better then the beef though. It was tender and of course I squeezed a bit of lime on it for added flavor.
But one of the things that really made me happy was their selection of drinks. They don’t have anything fancy or original, but they do carry Jarritos and Coke in a bottle.
Jarritos ($2.50) is a flavored soft drink from Mexico, similar to Mountain Dew in sweetness but with more flavor varieties. I usually go for the strawberry or pineapple.
And while there are some who say they can’t taste the difference between a glass bottled Coke and a one from a fountain, I am not one of those people. Bottled Coke is a little stronger, sweeter and more authentic, which is ironic in a place with such fake surroundings.
At 505 S. Flower St., in the City National Plaza food court.