Newsletter: Tijuana-style tacos in Koreatown

It’s been a happy week for us here, as we announced the return of our standalone Food section, which will be coming out in April. The expansion of our pages comes as we continue to expand our team under Food Editor Peter Meehan.We also announced that our cooking coverage will grow under newly hired Cooking Editor Genevieve Ko and Cooking Columnist Ben Mims. We also hired Rachel Schnalzer, who joins us as our new audience engagement editor, and Mariah Tauger, our new food photographer. In the coming months, we will roll out new video series, events and newsletters, and the third annual Food Bowl, our monthlong food festival, is happening in May.

Meanwhile, our new food critics continue their exploration of the city’s tables, lately pulling up their chairs — or hitting the sidewalk — at the taco stand Tacos 1986 in Koreatown and Blackship, a new Japanese-Italian mash-up in West Hollywood. If you’re still working on your New Year’s resolutions, or just need a rest cure, I have a piece that pairs saunas and galbi jjim, or foot massages and dim sum. We also have stories about new restaurants and a self-taught baker who’s turned his Long Beach house into an excellent neighborhood bakery.

As we gear up for yet another winter storm, it’s a good time to pick up some chocolates at a new chocolatier in Beverly Hills — good for storms, Valentine’s Day, or a marathon session of the excellent series ”Russian Doll.” Have a good weekend.

Amy Scattergood



Jorge Alvarez-Tostado, whose nickname is “El Joy,” mans the trompo at Tacos 1986.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

In his new review, Bill Addison checks out the trompo, the tacos and the charismatic taquero (“A kinetic blur of energy with slicked-back hair and a bushy mustache, he’s the Freddie Mercury of taqueros.”) at Tacos 1986, a Tijuana-style taco stand that recently set up shop in Koreatown.



The Carbonara ramen at Blackship in West Hollywood.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

At Blackship, a newish restaurant in West Hollywood, Patricia Escárcega finds mash-ups of Japanese and Italian dishes — carbonara ramen, karaage tortellini, hamachi Bolognese — that sometimes click and sometimes do not. “The risks don’t always pay off,” she writes, “and the menu is a fascinating scattershot of highs and lows.”


The galbi jiim at Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

If you spend a lot of time in spas, you get hungry after a sauna and an hour of acupressure — but maybe not for a smoothie or a grain bowl. I’ve got pairings of spa and food, from the San Gabriel Valley to Orange County, where you can combine a good massage with dumplings, oxtail fries or bubbling vats of galbi jjim.


Arturo Enciso of Gusto Bread, at home at his bakery.
(MB Maher)

I visit a local baker who’s turned his Long Beach living room into a bakery. Gusto Bread is what happened when Arturo Enciso became obsessed with a backyard oven and taught himself how to bake loaves with natural levain and whole grain flour. Now, he’s baking and selling gorgeous baguettes and boules from his house.



A spread of dim sum and other dishes from Dumpling Monster.
(Stan Lee / Fried Chicken Sandwich Studios)

In his weekly restaurant news column, Hadley Tomicki reports on the new restaurant from chef Joe Miller, Pacifique in West Hollywood. Phorage founder Perry Cheung has opened Dumpling Monster in West Hollywood; and birria specialist Teddy’s Red Tacos has expanded, with a new location by the Venice boardwalk.

Our 101 Restaurants We Love list for 2018 is out. The list incorporates restaurants and trucks from around Los Angeles and Orange County, in alphabetical order (no rankings this year). Plus this year there’s a bonus list of 10 classic restaurants.

Check us out on Instagram at @latimesfood.

And don’t forget the thousands of recipes in our California Cookbook recipe database.

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