Vitamina T: Chilli Cheese Tamales at Earlez Grille
The L.A. Edition.
Even more delicious than Taco Tuesday, our weekly segment showcases the best doses of vitamina T, or vitamin T, Mexico’s street slang for the most coveted comfort foods that begin with the letter T. This would have been great on Sesame Street, but we beat them to the punch—here’s this week’s taste of vitamin T from the streets of L.A.
Considering the fact that Los Angeles is home to tamale traditions from Mexico, Central America, South America, and beyond, it would be foolish to limit myself to just the Vitamina T protocols south of the Rio Grande. This is the L.A. edition!
How many times have you found yourself and your enablers huddled around one of the two occupied tables at a 24-hour Tommy’s ‘round 4 a.m.—juiced—pupils dilated, rubbing blood-shot eyes? You really should go home, but there’s still one last act of self-loathing: a burger, greasy fries, or a dry tamale covered in a molten patchwork of yellow cheese.
I could never get myself to do it, but I watched with disgust and envy all at once. That is, until I found myself in Earle Grillz down on Crenshaw a few weeks ago. I had come for the dog, but found myself lured by their chilli cheese tamale set in a pool of savory, smoky chilli, dressed with chopped onion, pickles, and bitter pepperoncinis.
The decent tamale does its job of serving as a chilli delivery system, much like small broad bean tamales are used to mop up mole de romeritos (wild rosemary) in the Iztapalapa borough of Mexico City.
At Earle's, the matriarch of the family walks around and checks on each customer with care, offering me a few shakes of Louisiana Hot Sauce to heat things up—“try this”, she says, simply, before moving on. A few bites in and you'll know why Earlez Grille is one of L.A.’s enduring comfort food institutions. Let's call it Vitamin EG.
Earle Grillz, 3630 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 299-2867