>> LA Chiva Jr | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

LA Chiva Jr

MÉXICO 🇲🇽
(JALISCO)

[COVID-19 UPDATE: Uptown Whittier has closed the two busiest restaurant-heavy blocks of Greenleaf Avenue to vehicles and created an outdoor dining promenade, which is really comfortable for eating. Pickup and takeout orders are also available for those that prefer not to sit here.]

While business owners and residents continue to disagree about the usefulness of Greenleaf Avenue's ficus trees, it is hard to argue that the current pandemic setting of Uptown Whittier's car-free outdoor dining area is not one of Greater Los Angeles' best. Shade from the trees during the day and the lights strung up in front of most of the restaurants at night make quite a scene.

One restaurant that is part of this, after being closed for a good portion of time since March, is LA Chiva Jr, an eatery that gives away its roots twice in the signage. Not only is the mascot a goat in the red and white stripes of Chivas de Guadalajara, but besides tacos they also advertise tortas ahogadas, the drowned sandwiches ubiquitous in and around the capital of Jalisco.

Out of sheer luck, this meal took place on the day of the latest Clásico Tapatío, the football rivalry of the two largest clubs based in Guadalajara. As the meal began, Chivas had pulled out a 3:2 victory over Atlas, a fact that could have been guessed by the amount of vertical red and white striped jerseys that kept passing by on the sidewalk.

While there is no alcohol served here, you can sample one of their aguas micheladas ($4.50, above), shown here with jugo de guanábana. This and their complimentary basket of chips and salsa makes for a great beginning to a meal.

After savoring the awesome shallow ceramic bowls of carne en su jugo in Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque some years ago, a good bowl has been sought after up here for quite some time. While versions here and there scratch an itch somewhat, the itch returns.

For now at least, the carne en su jugo ($12.99, above) at LA Chiva Jr is served in a deep styrofoam bowl, but it goes the farthest in all of Greater Los Angeles of really getting that itch taken care of for good. They call it a "beef and bacon soup" on the menu, but this "meat in its own juice" is so much more, thin cuts of flank steak mixing in a thick broth full of beans, bacon, and potatoes. It comes with tortillas, cilantro and onions to sprinkle in, lime to give it a sour kick, and a wonderful chile de arbol salsa to use as desired. Pro tip: Dump it all in!

And how about that Tapatío favorite advertised on the front of the restaurant? The torta ahogada ($8.99, above) served here is a stunner and looks amazing when sat in front of you at the table. They do not hold back when making sure the sandwich is in fact drowned, a fact that is slightly hidden from the opened torta above.

You can get it with carne asada or chicken, but traditionally it is served with carnitas. The meat however is possibly the only thing that holds the torta back, on this night served a bit dry. The rest of it excels, especially the bread which is delicious and toasted just right to stand up to a drenching. The tomato salsa itself is more like a deeply rich and warming gravy.

Also worthy of an order are the tacos de canasta ($1.69 each, above), dressed up with a mountain of cabbage and purple onion on top. They come with the same chile de arbol salsa, which is perfect for dipping. Available in beans, potato, and chicharrón, the bean version definitely took the day.

If it is your type of thing these days, there is a place or two in Uptown Whittier that is open for drinks after you stuff yourself full of Guadalajara favorites. Or just enjoy the stroll down the center of usually busy Greenleaf Avenue.

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