Restaurant Recommendation: La Morenita
Dining at the La Morenita Tortilleria and Bakery in Cypress Park is like having a meal at a market in Michoacán or Jalisco. You’re surrounded by food: great trays of fresh bolillos and pastries, racks of lovingly decorated cakes, freshly made tortillas and coolers full of juices and soft drinks. And like the market “loncherias,” La Morenita serves great food at great prices.
Owner, master baker (and virtuoso guitarist) Pepe Peña operated La Morenita for almost two decades, than gave up the lease about four years ago. Now, he and his family have returned as proprietors and restaurateurs, and they’ve installed a few stables—seating for about 12—and introduced an expanded menu of full combination dinners, burritos, tortas, tacos and sopes along with the pastries, fresh breads and freshly prepared masa that have long been their core business.
Chile Verde is a specialty here and can be enjoyed in burritos, in a combination plate and atop platters of nachos and wonderfully sinful French fries. The latter comes as a great heap of fried potatoes smothered in cheese, rich green chili sauce and gobs of tender pork. The combo plates, all great bargains at $4.99 and $5.99, come with rice, beans, a mound of salad and a generous dollop of delicious guacamole. Diners can choose among all the great standbys: the breaded milanesa beefsteak, beef Carne Colorado, chicken, pork chops, and tamales stuffed with pork, beef, chicken or the vegetarian green chili “rajas.”
As one of the neighborhood’s great sources of prepared masa, La Morenita’s tamales are always fresh and available by the dozen for the holidays.
Although meat dishes dominate La Morenita’s menu, vegetarians can savor the cheese enchiladas, smothered in sour cream and, for breakfast, terrific fire engine-red chilaquiles, the corn chips tender and tasty in a colorado sauce. The fresh-squeezed orange juice or carrot juice make wonderful accompaniments and the self-serve coffee is good.
And by all means, save some room for dessert. The bakery is still the heart of La Morenita’s operation and the cakes and pastries are not to be missed. You can choose from flan, cream-filled delights like “mil hojas,” the wonderful tres leches cake and many others filled with custards and crème.
La Morenita, located just across the street from the Cypress Park public library branch, is a great Northeast L.A. institution. And it’s great to have Pepe Peña and his family back in the kitchen.
La Morenita Tortilleria & Bakery is located at 1157 Cypress Avenue. Hours are 7:00am-8:00pm, seven days a week. Telephone us at 323-222-7953.