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El Picante Dishes Out Big Helpings of East L.A. Authenticity

January 17, 1991|JIM MARCHANT

You might think of El Picante, the latest incarnation of a small dining spot tucked away in a Yorba Linda supermarket complex, as a restaurant in miniature.

Miniature because the molded bakery-shop booths number just six, plus two tables on the sidewalk. But if seating is scanty, the portions are not. A la carte servings will satisfy hearty appetites, and dinner plates--adding beans and rice--can be daunting for even the ambitious.

Proprietor John Santana says the hearty portions are part of the East Los Angeles authenticity that the entrees--and a sign behind the counter--proclaim. "Many people in this area recognize immediately the food" as familiar because they grew up in East L.A., he says.

Another ingredient that patrons of Mexican fast food will not recognize is diced potato, which populates most of the meat mixtures. "But the home- and barrio-style cooking, where typical ingredients and meat are augmented by potatoes, rice and beans, gives the special flavor we want," Santana says. And it isn't all high octane, though condiments on the small salsa bar can raise the temperature to anyone's liking.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday January 24, 1991 Orange County Edition OC Live! Page 24 OC Live Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Eatery location--In last week's Neighborhood Eatery review, we incorrectly reported that a second location of El Picante was about to open in Corona del Mar. The new El Picante is at 511 N. Main St., Corona.

It's homey and brightly lit, with knickknacks that don't overwhelm. Instead of Muzak, non-Latino AM radio is heard from the kitchen.

The building has had a mixed heritage: The counters are relics from its earlier life as a doughnut shop, and the stark black-and-white tile floor was bequeathed by the '50s-diner motif of its short-lived prior tenant.

Menu offerings are varied but not exotic, with an incredible number of combinations of filling and wrappers. Beef in varied forms, pork, chicken, fish and shrimp are available. A la carte prices range mostly from $2 to $4. Dinners and enchilada plates, which include the dinner side dishes, are $5.95 to $6.50; tortillas are extra. There also are Mexican specialty plates, nachos and both American and Mexican breakfasts. Alcoholic drinks are not available.

A second El Picante restaurant is scheduled to open on Sunday, Jan. 20, in the Pep Boys Center at 511 N. Main St., Corona del Mar.

El Picante, 17474 Yorba Linda Blvd., in the Alpha Beta Center, Yorba Linda. Open Monday to Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday till 6 p.m. (714) 528-0222.

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