Boyle Heights has been blessed by Manuel’s El Tepayac. Established in 1956, this is truly a historical restaurant to the community. They serve authentic Mexican food — not the street tacos and burritos kind, but the real home cooking Mexican food. I remember when I was a kid, I ate here with my family. The unique thing about this restaurant is that it is small. The inside dining area can’t hold no more than 35 people. It is situated on a somewhat residential area — next to a house, across from a church. Things like this make this restaurant a special one. Despite being in a somewhat bad neighborhood, this still hits home to me.
This restaurant is for the hungry – for those who can eat. Who better to represent this than my family. We ordered the biggest thing on the menu — The Manuel Special. This was a humongous burrito. Inside, there were beans, rice, choice of meat (ours was carne asada), guacamole, and cheese. On top, they poored mounds of their chili sauce and cheese. The thing was so big, they had custom made platters for to-go orders. They even gave it to us in a box. They sure know how to feed the hungry.
A part of me wanted to get my hands messy and just pick up the whole burrito. Of course, my senses kicked in knowing that it would fall apart and make a mess. It’s always a good idea to cut this burrito into slices and eat it. Where else can you go and say, “I had a slice of their burrito.” The flavor of this thing was amazing. It was messy, but good. I’m not usually a fan of beans, but theirs was manageable. The carne asada mixed in with the guacamole was delicious. Of course, we only finished half of the thing. Still a feat if you ask me.
We also ordered the enchilada plate. I always order the enchilada plate here — it is my favorite. The red sauce they put over the enchiladas was so tasty. It had a very strong, dark chili taste to it that I liked. The depth of flavors the sauce had was like no other. Underneath all that yummy sauce and cheese was the beef — it is the best beef, hands down. Most places with shredded beef is usually dry and tasteless. The one from El Tepayac was so tender and was not dry at all. They had huge chunks of meat inside too. The quality of their meet was outstanding. I encourage anyone who comes here to try the enchilada plate. I get that all the time, no matter what. I got this even though I knew in my head the Manuel Special would have been more than plenty.
Their guacamole was all hand made in house. How do I know this? Because for one, There were still huge chunks of avocado in the guacamole. Also, I found a piece of skin/stem in the guacamole. Though I was disappointed of finding it, I was assured that it was indeed fresh and home made. Dipping the tortilla chips in the guacamole, I found myself grabbing a lot of guacamole on one chip. Subconsciously or not, I must have wanting to cover my whole chip with guacamole. It was that good.
Los Angeles is proud to be a Mexican cuisine Mecca. El Tepayac, arguably one of the most influential and historical Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, has a place in my heart. They serve quality food, and the establishment knows its roots. They are humble — their food is comfort to the community and for me. Through the years, I hope to find Manuel’s El Tepayac still the same as it was yesterday and is today.