Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where have I been?
Waiting in Line at Tito's Tacos
... among other things

m&i exterior Son of a Witch - Book Cover
While my iBook was in the shop being repaired the last few weeks, I had the chance to take in some sights, do some baking, and a bit of reading. Finished reading Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire which was a great gift I got for my birthday. And a few weekends ago, I stumbled upon a bookstore in Glendale called The Mystery and Imagination Bookshop that even had signed first edition copies of the book along with other great reads signed by author Ray Bradbury and many more.

This past weekend, MS made the big move to his new condo in West LA. I helped with manual labor and some minor decorating tips, but the highlight of Sunday evening was our trip out to Tito's Tacos. I was shocked to learn that he was a Tito's Tacos virgin, and knew that we had to go! We hopped on the 405 South, exited Washington Blvd, turned North on to Sepulveda, and fought our way to some prized parking in the Tito's lot.

It's funny that I have so many fond memories of Tito's Tacos in Culver City. From playing the coin operated Atari Centipede or the Ms. Pac-Man games, to standing in the long lines outside and inside - they're both about the same amount of time and it's nicer inside on cooler days, to hovering over small wooden tables inside the joint and claiming stake over a table finishing up their meals, to drinking the strawberry soda, to picnicking out on the wooden benches outside with our brown boxes of warm delicious Mexican food. Tito's is a family favorite and I remember stories my mom would tell me of her high school days at this restaurant that's been around since 1959. Tito's was always there for cheap college eats, for quick office lunch runs, for get togethers with LA friends.

I snapped this picture of the ladies behind the glass before they signaled to me not to take any more pictures. I'm always amazed at the efficiency of the Tito's Taco's machine, and I tried to share my Tito's knowledge with MS. Strangers listened in, smiled, and even chimed in. Stand in line. Know what to order. With or without cheese. How many. Place our order: 2 All Beef Burritos with Cheese, 2 Tacos with Cheese, 1 Chicken Tamale, 1 small Guacamole with our complimentary chips and salsa, and 2 soft drinks. All totaling less than $20. Remember who took our order. Step aside. Watch the ladies assemble the burritos, the tacos, the boxes of food. Make eye contact with your server when order is complete. Pay. Grab napkins, utensils, straws. Scavenge for seats.

Lucky for us, a family of four left a nice table for us and we were able to sit right away. I started with my Tito's Taco and made sure I ate all the leftover cheese and lettuce that may have fallen out of the taco. After all, cheese is 40 cents extra and I don't like to waste any food. Crispy, warm - the taco was absolutely delicious. Just like I remembered from when I was a little girl.

Next up for me was my All Beef Burrito with Cheese. I savored each bite, reminiscing the past and taking pride in not making a mess of the melted cheese and specially cooked meat in their secret recipe sauce. I only had to use two napkins while the rest was given to MS. A newbie at Tito's, he's still working on his technique.

The Chicken Tamale was good, but not something I'd order on my own. Took a bite from MS' plate and was satisfied that I could say I at least tried it. I'll stick with my burrito, taco, and chips like I always do.

Tito's Tacos. Simply one of LA's Best and a Must Eat.

Tito's Tacos in Culver City
11222 Washington Blvd (cross street: Sepulveda)

Mystery and Imagination Bookshop in Glendale
Street: 238 N. Brand Blvd
T: 1.818.545.0206


Kirk said...

Hi Kristy - I had a Guy I worked with "back-home" who was from LA, who wouldn't stop talking about this place. You make it sounds great as well.

Mark Kawayoshi said...

Naomi and I eat here a lot when we want junk food. You can't beat the price for what you get. Naomi likes their salsa. I like their tacos and enchiladas.

BoLA said...

Kirk: Tito's isn't a place you go everyday. It's a heart attack ready to happen. But boy oh boy, it's an LA classic for sure. That and Phillipe's, Johnny's Pastramis, Canters, and Tommy's.

Mark: I like to leave my chips in the salsa for a bit so that the chip is soaked full of salsa goodness. :) Definitely good cheap eats!

McForTheVeryFirstTime said...

I lost my Tito-ginity to you that night. Mmmmm, it was sooo good. Did not disappoint at all. I couldn’t believe how long the line was! We were lucky to get those seats. A taco to remember.

Ellen Bloom said...

Have you tried the cheese enchiladas? They are soooo yummy, that I often bring my own casserole dish, have it filled up and serve the enchiladas at dinner parties!!! I've been going to Tito's since the mid-60's! Yum!

djjewelz said...

Well, after reading your post, I decided to get Tito's for the office today. We'll all be taking a siesta now...thank you very much!

and pass me some of that Eno!

BoLA said...

MC: Good times. It may have been your first, but definitely not the last!

Ellen: Yes, the cheese enchiladas are yummy, for sure! I do love cheese! By the way, GREAT knitting! ;)

djJewelz: Mmm...afternoon siesta. Very nice, indeed. May I join in?

Anonymous said...

Tito's sucks and the only people who think it is "the best in LA" are usually clueless westsiders who don't have an idea what real Mexican food is. Tito's is Spanish for "White Trash Style"

BoLA said...

To Anon: Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. And I have mine. Since you are anonymous, I don't know who you are or how old you are, but I think that Tito's is a true LA landmark having been around since 1959 - long before I was born and shortly after my own mother was born. In a culture where restaurants either sink or swim, Tito's has withstood the tests of time and has not only survived but has thrived in this city.

If you can't respect my opinions especially one that is so intertwined with my family traditions and if you choose to use language that's demeaning and insulting, you can just buzz off. --Kristy

Anonymous said...

I have eating here since 1976. I went to A.Hamiton High school(Robertson+Venice Blvd.), about 4 miles away. WE would go here ll the time, I still do, hen I am town(I live 55 miles away) >>> - It's the SALSA, The best ever, the Taco's are OK, The Burritos Rule.
The Salsa is it, you can drink it, I have, others have, they used to give away for free, --not any more. Buy it- it is worth it!

Carlos said...

So for the last couple of months, ever since watching Rachel Ray’s TV show highlighting great spots around Los Angeles, me and my lady friend have been wanting to check out Tito’s Tacos in Culver City. It was an LA institution they said. The food was delightful they said. Lesson learned: never trust the Food Network again.

The place was off the freeway and in a rather grungy location. At first I was excited by the atmosphere and the crowds surrounding the place, although that would soon prove to be a negative. The parking lot was nearly full, small and cramped, although we were lucky to find a spot right away. Much to my dismay they were cash only:even In And Out, which has long been an LA institution sans plastic payment, has moved on into this century. A tagged and raggedy ATM machine charged me two bucks to take out a twenty, and already I was regretting this trip.

Inside, there was a line that wasn’t truly a line, more like a huddled mass. People were rubbing up against each other, and lo and behold, the place didn’t even have cash registers! You ordered your food, they bring it out a couple minutes later, they tally up the total on a notepad and gas station calculator, then take your money and come back another minute later with your change. Oh, and they charge you a quarter for a glass of water (the price of the paper cup). We each ordered a burrito, and they were small by lunch truck standards.

They were skinny, by Del Taco standards. I wasn’t expecting Chipotle, which is great but lacks any real authentic flavor, and I was hoping Tito’s would deliver. It was salty and sloppy. Mine came with beans; mushy and wet are not my ideal characteristics of refried beans. My girlfriend was instantly reminded of goat meat when she tried hers...certainly not the flavorful steak we’re used to at most street corner roach coaches. The burritos fell apart under their own weight (keep in mind, they lacked any real substance in the first place). The best part were the nachos, but we don’t eat nachos, so it couldn’t save the meal. In short, this was an unforgettably forgettable experience, and I caution anyone from going there. Tito’s is the product of successful marketing and word of mouth, but in way did I see or taste how or why they deserve it.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I was working on a movie in Jalisco, Mexico and sitting on the beach talking to one of my local drivers. He recounted to me how he had spent a year working in "El Norte" at a place called Tito's Tacos in Culver City before returning home because he was homesick. I got on the walkie talkie and announced to the english speaking crew that Chucho used to work at Tito's. By the end of the day most of the crew had engaged him in conversation regarding his former place of employment and he could not believe that this taco stand in Culver City could be so famous.
I'll have a taco, a burrito, chips and salsa to go.

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