Last summer, Burritos La Palma sent rumbles through Southern California’s Mexican-food world when it won Best Traditional Taco at LA Weekly’s epic Tacolandia festival. It was surprising for various reason—what they offered was a burrito, for one, and its ingredient was one of the rarest in SoCal: birria de res, the traditional goat stew now reimagined with beef. It’s a specialty of Jerez, Zacatecas that’s usually only found in Southern California during weddings held at labor halls, the Armenian hall in Montebello or the La Puente Handball Club.
But the biggest shocker? While Burritos La Palma brick-and-motor is in El Monte, husband-and-wife team Alberto and Lauren Bañuelos are OC kids all the way. They’ve been making their spectacular flour tortillas for years in Lake Forest, and they just started their first lonchera, which is currently parking on the corner of Bristol and Tolliver streets in SanTana in the evenings. A couple of caveats, though. Check Burritos La Palma’s Twitter feed before you visit, because they’re still trying to find the best place to park and might be somewhere else. This is regional Mexican to the core, so don’t expect carne asada or carnitas burritos that could shatter a wooden door, a truth that has already driven away short-sighted gabachos and paisas alike.
And when you get your burrito, don’t be disappointed. Yes, it’s as small as a spring roll, but bite into it. Luxuriate in the spicy birria de res, the buttery flour tortilla, the house salsa that’s all about savoriness. Order four or five. And take comfort in knowing that once again, OC has shown LA what’s up—BOOM.
Burritos La Palma, on the corner of Bristol and Tolliver Streets, Santa Ana. Twitter: @burritoslapalma