El Tepeyac Café
812 N. Evergreen Ave. (in Boyle Heights)
Los Angeles, CA 90033-2620
(last visit August 2001)
Fr, Sa 0600-2300
Someone on Chowhound.com once described the burritos here as "weighing as much as a small child". Be warned, the portions here are gigantic. And the food is nonetheless tasty, and pretty cheap. Most entrees will be in the $9-$14 range, and they will feed you for at least two meals.
There are a number of signature burritos, like the Hollenbeck (pork, guacamole, rice, beans: big) and the Manuel Special (chili, pork, cheese, guacamole, rice, beans: even bigger), as well as all the old Mexican standbys. Machaca is available, and they have menudo on the weekends. There are even burgers and a T-bone steak; but if you're here you should probably order Mexican food. (I haven't been here at breakfast time yet so I can't say anything about that menu.)
It isn't the most authentic Mexican cuisine around, but as my friend M once said, "Cuisine evolves!" The food tastes great, which is what matters.
Once, the neighborhood had a bad reputation. I understand it's improving. We certainly didn't have any trouble on any of our visits, though having said that we've only been there in daylight. Still, the Hollenbeck is named after a local police station, and there are cops around; they love the food here, too. I certainly wouldn't let the neighborhood stop you from coming.
The ambiance is family diner, i.e., casual. There's often a line, but it's worth it.
El Tepeyac has been here since 1955. They must be doing something right.