Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gerald Panter's fast food photos

My web addict friend RG sent me a link to Los Angeles fast food stands at Polar Inertia. Photorapher Gerald Panter has spent eight years documenting fast food joints with his camera. Many of these places serve the some of the best food in town, or at least the best food on the block. I thought Panter’s project was worthy of a good look, so I flipped through the 19 pictures he has posted hoping to see something I liked or maybe even remembered.

Picture #3 - BBQ King - yep, been there, ate that.
Picture #6- El Micoacano - My first Gorditas.
PIcture #8 - FatBurger - oh hell yes - about a 100 times.
Picture #17 - Molly's - Ate a dog, got the runs.
Picture #19 - Wendell's - in a bad neighborhood, worth the risk.

Panter missed my favorite Taco stand, Tito's Tacos in West LA. A typical meal is pictured above. Click the link - Tito's has a theme song!

Three taco's and one meat burrito, plus chips, salsa and a coke. All for about $10. Tito's is "The Taco Stand" in LA. People will stand in line from the moment it opens until it closes in the wee hours of the morning. On most visits, at least 50 people are waiting for a meal. At one time, back in the 80s, all I had to do was hold up three fingers when I approached the window. My favorite server would make my box and slip it to me so I would not have to stand in line. Of course, I tipped well, and every Christmas brought her a good bottle of wine.

Most of the employees have been with Tito's for a long time. Tito's offers full health benefits and a good retirement plan. In addition, they treat each other and their customers with respect. Unlike other Taco stands, one gets the impression that Tito's is a valued part of the community.

The employees take great care and pride in the simple menu they prepare by hand. The Taco's are great, the best I've had in LA actually. I've had a better fish taco in San Diego, and a better Carnitas Taco in Norwalk - but Tito's makes only beef taco's, and they are the best.

Tito's also makes something it calls a meat burrito. Dinners must learn how to eat this volcanic delicacy before attempting to dig in. Failure to learn the proper technique will result in rookie blow out. The meat filling will stain your hands brown. It take hours to wear off (trust me).

The correct burrito eating technique is to bit a hole in the top, then suck the inside out while you gently guide the meat filling towards the hole. One you have reduced the volume, it is possible to start eating down the tortilla. You will need persistence and practice – but it is worth the effort.

One other thing - Johnny's Pastrami shares the same packed parking lot. It serves a good hot pastrami sandwich. I've taken RG to Johnny's - but Tito's is reserved for locals!

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