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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY : A Taste of Spain

July 25, 1993|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

Ten years of working at the phone company left Ana Canto bored. So she quit and entered a field she had always dreamed of--the restaurant business. After taking cooking classes at Cerritos Community College and working at several restaurants, she bought El Chori, a Cuban and Spanish restaurant in Bell.

El Chori looks like a fast-food joint, but inside the cheerfully decorated restaurant, authentic Cuban and Spanish cuisine is served at good prices.

A delightful meal can be made up of several tapas, the tasty appetizers so popular throughout Spain. Among the best are the chicharon de pollo ($2.50) made of chunks of chicken fried in soybean oil, and the camarones al ajillo ($3.75), four meaty shrimp sauteed in butter, olive oil and garlic. Cod fritters ($2.50) feature mashed cod and are served with onions and cilantro. Jamon serrano ($2.50), a mountain-cured ham, is a tapa bar staple.

A popular main course is the rabo encendido ($7.95), tender chunks of oxtail with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and Tabasco served on a bed of rice. My favorite main course, served only Wednesday and Saturday, is the cordero al vino ($9.95), a succulent lamb shank with garlic and bell peppers served with a wine sauce.

Another good selection is the paella Valencia ($15.95 for two), the famous Spanish dish loaded with crab, shrimp, clam, chicken and saffron-flavored rice. Chicken fricassee, ($6.50), features half a chicken baked with potatoes, olives and raisins in a tomato-based sauce.

*

El Chori, 5147 E. Gage Ave., Bell; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; beer served; (213) 773-3011.

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