>> La Española Meats/Doña Juana | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 4 January 2021

La Española Meats/Doña Juana

SPAIN 🇪🇸

COVID-19 UPDATE: Especially on Saturdays, when things get busy, they do limit customers with a bouncer and ask everyone to space themselves inside. Pre-order your paella the day before and create a pickup time for easiest in and out. The sit down area is closed.

Despite only taking up a very small percentage of the overall building, the market at La Española is overwhelming the first time you open the door. A gift to lucky citizens of Southern California, a wonderland of everything Spanish you could want. The shelves are lined with bottles of wine from every region of Spain, big jars of capers and olives, and boxes of Spanish tortas to start.

Beyond this, you cannot enter the factory of course, but most of the dried and cured offerings are in the refrigerated case for all to buy. Cheeses and beers are in another. But behind all this is something even more amazing, the employees beyond are hurried in the back, putting together orders for pickup and takeout, for there are many prepared foods you can come here for as well.
 
Baguette stack on the bocadillo oven.

Saturdays are busiest here at the market because of the availability of many different paellas. A tented area seats people and parties in better times, but even before the pandemic a paella to go would be served in a styrofoam container. Some may consider this "truck stop" paella, but there is a charm to getting such quality fare from a gas station, no?

Saturdays also offer freshly prepared snacks like churros con chocolate ($3.75, below last photo). These churros are made in Spain and shipped here to be fried to order. Spanish churros are smaller than their more popular (in L.A.) Mexican cousins, but the first bite after dipping into the hot chocolate cup will flood your brain with memories of all the snacking you did on trips to the Iberian Peninsula.

A recent outing.

If you prefer not to commit to buying many links of their dried sausages, grab a menu and order one of many bocadillos on offer daily. All come on their freshly baked baguettes, with extra firm and crispy crust protecting an extra soft interior.
 
The tapas plates are also a great deal, the 4 person cheese and charcuterie plate ($9.99, below) comes with two whole baguettes and a small cup of their house-marinated olives. Excellent cuts of meat and sharp cheese pair very well with the bread, some wine maybe from Asturias, and/or a bottle of Estrella Galicia, all available from the shop.
 

So about those paellas. Some people might say that a mixed paella (seafood and meat) is an abomination, but the house paella ($9.99 per portion, two portions mixed below) of Doña Juana does just that. Luckily there were no purists consuming this meal, as it was enjoyed immensely without shame. The important thing about it is that it still lets the rice do the work.

As any Spanish person will be happy to tell you, the paella rice and how it is prepared is just as important as the rice a sushi chef will prepare for his creations. It must be cooked to just the right consistency and never be wet and sticky, or dense and clumpy like some tourist atrocities served to monied idiots abroad. The paella here, even from a styrofoam container, has perfect rice that has been yellowed by the use of saffron.

House paella.
 
Choripan ($5.95) and Bocadillo de la casa ($5.49).

Churros con chocolate.

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