Burritos La Palma, originally from Jerez, in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, has been satisfying the appetites of Angelenos for three years in the City of El Monte. Owner Alberto Bañuelos started his business more than 35 years ago with burrito franchises in Mexico, a total of 12, and luckily for us, one of them in Los Angeles County.
As the name suggests, get the burritos. You’re not going to find Chipotle-sized burritos at La Palma. Actually, that’s pretty much all you can get at this restaurant beyond a few other items as Bañuelos purposefully has kept the menu short so he can easily replicate the same quality flavor in each of his restaurants. The burritos are rolled with pliable handmade flour tortillas and filled with slow stewed meats, from beef Birria (the house special), to a spicy green chile chicharron, Pollo Estilo Tinga, Frijoles y Queso and the “Con Todo” burrito with cheese, refried beans and choice of meat. They come out toasty in a plastic basket served slender and more like the amount of filling you’d have in a taco. The cashier immediately told us we’d probably want to order more than one and at less than $3 each, it was worth it. These burritos may be small, but they pack a mighty flavorful punch.
On a side note, Burritos La Palma took home the Vendy Award for Best Traditional Taco at Tacolandia this past June. Yep, they won Best Traditional Taco with their burrito. I’m still scratching my head, but in a way, it does make sense.
Set in a tiny squat building on Peck Boulevard, wrapped with promises of handmade flour tortillas, in the midst of a small industrial park that includes a salon, insurance agency and a LA Country Fire Station with a Health Hazardous Materials Management Division. Disturbing, but I digress. The cool air conditioning greets you upon entering the small floor tiled room, almost like a large waiting room. It’s clean inside with the aroma of stewed meats and frijoles, one of my favorite scents in the world. The decorations are minimal: loud red paint, a few Jerez posters and a slim bookshelf filled with branded t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. You place your order with the cashier at what seems to be a podium or hostess stand. You find your own table and they’ll bring your food and drinks. It’s not fancy, but it’s a cover because their guisados are great. The guy next to me was a biker taking a break from his hog and had his kids in tow. There was a table of young gals in scrubs. An older lady probably in her late 70s was aggressively navigating her smartphone with severe finger punches.
Setting the table: It takes great practice to slow cook your meats with consistent texture and flavor. Birria is typically made with goat meat, but La Palma slow-cooks its beef in an earthy blend of dried red chiles and spices. You’ll find the juice dripping down the side of your hand and you fighting the urge to lick it off. Ah, go ahead. No one cares at this place and actually would understand. The chicharrones, chewy and gummy are delicate yet firm, and the green salsa is a spicy tomatillo that had enough kick to make my nose run. Stephen was in chile heaven. So yes, get the burritos because they are good and under $7 for three. We also chowed down on some Flautas en Maiz, five shredded beef corn tortilla flautas with shredded cabbage, tomatillo sauce and pickled carrots. Next trip, and there will be a next trip, we’re going to also try the Tortas with sliced pork loin, avocado, pickled jalapeños, tomato and mayo in a toasted bolillo.
Burritos La Palma is located at 5120 N. Peck Rd., El Monte, CA 91732. Phone: (626) 350-8286.