It’s 3:30 in the morning and you have no particular destination in mind, and you’re at J&S because you’re in Montebello and everywhere else is closed, and J&S kind of exists to be the place to go when there’s no place else to go. Aren’t there 24-hour Hong Kong cafes just a few minutes north in Monterey Park? There are, but it’s not a baked pork chop kind of night.
The standard call at J&S is a bean and cheese burrito, which usually makes people’s lists of the best burritos on the Eastside, although rarely, it must be admitted, right at the top of those lists. The flour tortillas are nicely stretchy, and the beans do that molten, slightly sour thing that definitively lets you know you are in L.A. You can also get your burritos with machaca because it’s that kind of place, or quesadillas with pastrami because every old-school dive on the Eastside has pastrami, and J&S has that jazzy-cool early-‘60s groove going on.
But let’s stipulate that you’re in the mood for tacos, because it’s 3:30 a.m. and this post is not tagged Burrito Tuesday. You glance over at the taco section of the menu board, and note that your choice is: Taco. J&S is not where you end up when you’re in the mood for buche, trompas, cueritos or other advanced entries in the taco lexicon. So you order a couple, and they’re kind of good in their way – shredded lettuce, shredded cheese and diced tomatoes that were probably not the ripest ones in the supermarket, but also a ladleful of creamy taqueria guacamole and a thin, crisp shell that clearly came straight out of the fryer.
Is there meat in the taco? Sure, there has to be, but in the form of a few chewy strands that slow you down a little as you chomp, beef, I think, and you probably wouldn’t notice if cost-cutting chefs decided to leave it out altogether.
The evening has been a success: You ate tacos. Now it is time to go home.
887 N. Garfield Ave., Montebello, (323) 728-3853.