>> Pan Victoria Restaurante y Panadería | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 20 September 2021

Pan Victoria Restaurante y Panadería

GUATEMALA 🇬🇹
Washington Blvd. facade and catering van

COVID-19 UPDATE: The interior seating is limited to counter seats along the window. Almost all business is takeout.

It is always fascinating to view the differences of what a place might say on Yelp and what the reality on the ground is like. Panadería Victoria on Washington is always pretty packed (as is the sister location in Inglewood), with two lines forming for their baked goods and prepared foods. A place this constantly busy and in demand with only three stars on Yelp is almost guaranteed to be good.

Look a little closer at those reviews and it is the usual mix of "No English spoken" and other casual racism, as well as folks who somehow feel slighted because of the service they think they did not receive. The best advice for visiting is to simply know that a lot of other people want this food as well, so plan to have a bit of a wait and do not show up expecting your food faster than the customers in front of you.

Inside the restaurant looking at the steam table options

The freshly baked breads and sweet treats and cookies made in house are all lovely and receive rave "Reminds me of home!" reviews by Guatemalans, but on this occasion lunch is the reason for coming. On a daily basis, the kitchen sets out a (slightly) rotating menu of items on their steam table (above), covering all their bases for types and cuts of meat.

You are likely to have been perusing the video board menu while waiting in line, but also cast glances over the shoulders of the people in front of you to make sure you do not miss out on something that looks tasty. Many of the steam table options come with rice and beans, and by the time you get them home the compartments of your takeout containers have all become one. But eventutally it all would have been mixed anyways, so having the pepián or hilachas gravy in your rice is not the end of the world.

Recent takeout from the restaurant

There are also chuchitos ($2.49, above center), plump tamales of chicken or pork wrapped up and steamed inside of corn husks. The versions here are very good, plenty of slightly spicy tomato salsa hot inside with the tender cuts of meat. These work well to steam again at home if you are unable to eat them immediately, the wrappers keeping all the goodness packed tightly inside.

If you have never had a Guatemalan shuco before, Victoria is a good location to have your first since you know the bread quality will be high. The basic shuco is usually hot dog with a variety of household condiments, so the bread is very important. Upgrade to a shuco de longaniza ($4.99, below) to get a much better quality pork sausage that they make in house.

Shuco de longaniza

The sandwich is always more satisfying than it sounds, dressed with plenty of lettuce and tomato, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. The secondary ingredient that takes it to another level is of course the layer of avocado spread.

You can choose from other sides when ordering dishes from their steam table, but the black beans and rice always make such a good combination that they are difficult to stray from. You also get two thick Guatemalan-style corn tortillas to eat with each order, making the amount of food and calories enough for two people.

Hilachas

On most days you can find hilachas ($8.49, above), a supremely savory beef stew made with carrots and potatoes. While most versions are made with shredded beef, the meat at Victoria is somewhere between cubed and shredded, still plenty tender though and perfect for eating with some of the beans and gravy on their delicious tortillas.

If you go too far after noon, you are likely to find the caldo de gallina ($11.99, below) sold out as it is very good and highly sought after. A quarter chicken is cooked in the stew whole, and you can decide if you want the breast and wing or thigh and leg, if any remain. On this day it was white meat only, but even this satisfied.

Caldo de gallina

After ordering, the bird is taken to the kitchen for grilling and served separately from the soup as is customary. The soup is full of chayote, potatoes, and celery and super comforting. Any cold or hangover would be no match for this soup, which also comes with rice, a potato salad, and hunk of avocado.

There will be at least one pepián on offer on any given day, or more like the pepián de costillas de res ($10.49, below), big meaty chunks of beef rib. Pepián is made from pumpkin seeds as well as a "variety of others" according to their menu and tastes also of garlic and black pepper.

Pepian with beef ribs

It is more usually quite thick as a gravy, but the version here is thin and soupy. Since it is so nice, you will be constantly spooning more over the meat, chayote, and green beans. Ever since eating pepián with beef some time ago in Torrance, it is and will continue to be hard not to choose this option over poultry.

Besides the time in line, big orders like this will also require some additional waiting while the kitchen prepares the grilled hen, any sandwiches, and anything else that might require more than scooping from the steam table. Come with a smile under your mask, and it will all be worth it.

📍 2190 W. Washington Blvd., Harvard Heights, Central Los Angeles

🇬🇹🇬🇹🇬🇹

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