15 Signs You Grew Up Eating Mexican Food in Southern California

Categories: Mexi Meals

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Courtesy of Soho Taco
The listicle of why Southern California Mexican food is the best to come...

Someone can easily make a list of "50 Signs You Grew Up Eating Mexican Food" and get a kajillion hits--but we're not going to do that. Instead, we're going to get as provincial as possible and revel in the quirks and delight that is eating Mexican food in Southern California and Southern California alone, whether Mexican or not--the rest of the world can watch and drool. Some of the following 15 might hold appeal across Taco USA--but most of them will mystify everyone else, as they should. Enjoy, and let the arguments begin!

15. You Wonder Why Other States Don't Have Fish Tacos or Breakfast Burritos Everywhere

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Photo by Das Ubergeek
Breakfast burrito from Troy's Drive-In in Orange

Because we invented them, you know? (Kind of). And they're so damn delicious.

14. Your Cousins Invented Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs

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What's slowly spreading across the country first officially became popular in Los Angeles in the 1990s via Tijuana via Tucson via Sonora--but any Mexican will always swear that their primo Rudy (or was it Chito?) was grilling them up back in Montebello in the 1980s.

13. Sunday Means Menudo, Pozole, Birria, or Chilaquiles

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Photo by The Glutster (I think)
Mmmm...birria

All are dishes that first hit the United States in Southern California during the 1920s due to the Mexican exodus from central Mexico. Their ubiquity here is such that even gabachos know and love these meals more than in other regions. And speaking of gabachos...

12. (If You're White) Your Great-Grandpa Ate Tamales from a Wagon, Your Grandma Ate Tamale Pie, Your Mom Ate Tamales from a Can, and You Eat Tamales

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XLNT Tamales, SoCal's favorite tamale brand for nearly a century

Gabachos have been tamale-crazy as long as they've lived in Southern California, and they'll continue to be, even subjecting themselves to oddities such as tamale pie, which...

11. (If You're Mexican) You Have No Idea Why Anyone Would Willingly Eat Tamale Pie or Tamales from a Can, and Don't Believe they Ever Existed

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Tamale pie from Avanti Cafe

...continues to mystify and enrage Mexis whenever I mention tamale pie or tamales in a can, who refuse to believe Americans would ever subject themselves to such depradations.


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132 comments
FFlintstone
FFlintstone

Bell Beefers at Taco Bell,Discontinued long ago.

You may obtain a weak sustitute at Dell Taco, not on the menu.

Ask for a "Bun Taco"

cjp3581
cjp3581

Wait....there's such a thing as an al pastor burger?  That's not just a torta?  I think I need that in my life.

Also, don't get you your mexican ingredients at your local carniceria, not vallarta?

jdailey59
jdailey59

I remember eating fish tacos in Ensenada, but I don't remember ever finding them in So. Cal. and I grew up in OC. BTW, I actually worked at Naugles at one time in my life... ;)

Dearest Mayra
Dearest Mayra

Yes el elotero with the crazy loud horn made my little chihuahua cried

Dearest Mayra
Dearest Mayra

The lady shouting !"TAMAAAAAAALES"! standing in the middle of the street or walking slowly while her husband drives the family van a three miles per hour YES its true

Malvado
Malvado

Please rename this article "15 signs...Mexican Food in LA".

This article offends the San Diegan in me.

Tapatio? WTF?!

JFlores
JFlores

Orozcos Tacos off Soto in East Los Angeles

4thgenSoCalgal
4thgenSoCalgal

Thank you for this list, Gustavo. 


I grew up eating tacos at Mitla's, which is a few blocks from my grandparents' (representing the West Side!), at King Taco in Lincoln Heights, where I lived when I attended CSULA, and Grandma's kitchen. Grandma dipped the tortillas in hot oil, and she put boiled hamburger meat in the tacos.

Alas, my sisters and I ate terrible things like tamales in the can because Mama was a single mom who worked full time and made dinner on the run. And I have fond memories of late nights and early mornings at the "Nalgas" drive thru in Colton, picking up tacos. They always satisfied.


However, Tapatio wasn't on our table, still isn't (or anything hotter than Serrano chilis), and I never tried a bacon-wrapped hot dog and don't want to. Yet, I like Tex-Mex breakfast burritos.


(I posted a version of this earlier, but I guess I accidentally deleted it.)

Wendy Esteras
Wendy Esteras

Do tell, Señor Arellano, when and where Naugles plans its reconquista.

Gary Schultz
Gary Schultz

Gotta go back 55 plus years; I miss the Mexican bakery on my paper route. Spent most of my earnings there

extramsg
extramsg

16. You think these are unique to Southern California. ;-)

Veronica Monteleone
Veronica Monteleone

I live in the mid west and I wish there were places that make fish tacos!

Christopher Bobby Barboza
Christopher Bobby Barboza

Wow I all everything on the list except that I question what jack in the box sells tacos and I never knew there was such a thing as Tamale Pie and Tamales from a Can.

Karl Irish
Karl Irish

And why the hell aren't there any pastrami burritos in Houston?

jodieb
jodieb

#16 - If you are a Southern California transplant now living in Colorado, you wonder why everything is offered with "pork green chile" (that's NOT Mexican food), and what the hell "smothered" is.

The-James The-Albert
The-James The-Albert

A Chimichanga is an Abomination.. and you prob know where to get a Hollenbeck at and you cried when Manuel Rojas Passed away.

Teresa Ponce
Teresa Ponce

From Ventura County to Boyle Heights to have some Churros from lady vendor. Vivan los bellos recuerdos.

Mike Brooks
Mike Brooks

El torito shouldn't even be in the same sentence as King tacos

Sean OKelly
Sean OKelly

dude....i loved those fish tacos! nothing like them at 3am after a nice buz!

Marc A. Morin-Lebel
Marc A. Morin-Lebel

I agree the list, but I also grew up with Chalula sauce along with Tapatia.

Barbara Al-Bayati
Barbara Al-Bayati

"Even if you've never eaten actual Tex-Mex delights like puffy tacos, al pastor burgers, rolled tacos, breakfast tacos, migas, or barbacoa. You don't have to--it's Texas, and everything that comes from Texas is EVIL."

Greenverdugo Art
Greenverdugo Art

Still miss the XLINT tamales. Wish they had a vegetarian version! :D

John Hicks
John Hicks

Jami Hicks, could you imagine a world without breakfast burritos? Yeah, me neither.

Laura Burke
Laura Burke

I once ran across a Mexican restaurant in Belgium. Terrified, I turned and dragged my friends off in the opposite direction!

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

My grandma also used to wrap a hot dog and cheese in a tortilla and fry it. Is there an "official" name for such a dish?

Lucas Cook
Lucas Cook

In Texas we have breakfast tacos

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

Do you got King Taco where ever you're at?

02LI
02LI

@jodieb LOL you are so effin right because I am just that and I have wondered that too many times! There are some pretty good trucks and restaurants you just gotta put in the work and find them! 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

That it was. Just thinking about it gets me all sentimental...and hungry. :-)

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