When you're deep into a ride it can be hard to decide when it's worth it to pull over and break that mo'. Stopping for sub-par snacks can be just as spirit-breaking as a flat, so lots of riders would rather mash to their destination than take a chance on a new food spot. And sure, while some coffee shops and drink spots can be hit or miss, there are certain treats in town that're always worth it. In today's post we'll run through the top-5 foods you'll find in LA that're worth pulling over for, every time!
Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs
These are the quintessential LA street food. Most days it almost feels like there's a cart on every corner serving up hot, delicious, dogs - and, after 10pm, there actually are. Wrapped in bacon and piled-high with peppers, onions, and all the fixin's - LA's street meat is the after-drinks staple that keeps the city running. Between 1 and 3 am every night, 85% of bites in town are bites of bacon-wrapped hot dogs and, with a hefty dose of carbs, protein, and electrolyes (delicious salty bacon) - they're the perfect hangover-preventer and mid-ride fuel. So next time you see one of those sizzling carts, pull over and snag a dog - you'll be glad you did.
And if bacon-dogs are the official street-meat of LA, the official street-veg has to be eloté! Hot, fresh corn charred up over flames and then slathered in a delicious mix of cheese, mayo, garlic and spices - this is one snack that never fails to hit the spot and, since it's a veggie, you can kind of, sort of pretend you're making a healthier choice. Just like the hotdogs above, you'll most often find these treats served up by roaming street carts, though they're typically more of a day-time fare than a late-night snack. If your cruising past any farmer's markets, swap meets, or city events - keep an eye peeled for people with corn and you'll be seconds away from some deliciousness.
I know what you're thinking: "Wait, does everything in LA get cooked on sidewalk carts?" and the answer is, "No, it's just that all the best things get served that way". Sidewalk tacos are no exception. In fact, in any other city, they'd probably be at the top of our list! Just like the other foods we've mentioned, taco carts and trucks are a staple of the LA street scene. If you've ever been to one of our Draft events to sample Sandoval's tasty creations, or joined us on a Tuesday Night Ride down to Ave 26 tacos, you've tried some of the best and know just how tasty those little tacos can be. Ave 26 is so good that they basically commandeer and empty street downtown every night and fill it up with a block-long line of people eager to eat some tacos. Sure, the cops shut them down every once in a while, but they're usually back up within 24 hours, and they're worth stopping for every time.
Roll around town on a Saturday or Sunday and you'll probably pass a mom-and-pop grocery or two with a full-on barbecue blazing away out front. The delicious smells of smoke and seared meat spreading through the air for a few blocks in either direction makes these easy to track down once you're within sniffin' distance and the piled-high servings will never leave you disappointed. The office favorite has to be Handy Market for their huge, smokey Saturday spread, but there are plenty of talented grillers out there, usually in front of the smaller grocery stores/butchers. The point is, if you're pedaling and get a whiff of some fresh bbq, track it down - and try a bit of it all.
Last but not least, a bit of a wildcard. While the above foods are all fairly unabashed local faves, our last entrant is a bit of a personal pick: Pupusas. You won't find many street carts serving up these meaty, little pancakes - but they're available in all sorts of tucked-away corners in town. Strip mall snack spots, mini-grocers with kitchens in the back, farmer's market tents and I've even finally seen a few roaming pupusa trucks - these Salvadorean snacks are so special, I stop pretty much every time I see them. Imagine a fat little pancake, stuffed with meat and cheese, fried to sizzling perfection and then topped with salsa and a spicy-sweet coleslaw (like a Salvadorean kimchi almost). Start with the revueltas (pork, beans, and cheese) and then go on from there. They're so good, that you'll find yourself stopping every time you get the chance to try a new one too.
What're the foods in your hood that're always worth stoping for? Let us know so we can try 'em out. And ride happy, we'll see you out there.