Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Los Zarapes in Van Nuys sets out their giant BBQ grill, luring passers-by and workers from the local car repair shops. The chicken isn’t strongly spiced, and basically tastes like barbecued chicken. The marinade was described simply as “salsa.” Mysterioso. It is probably yellowish from annato seed, or as one person accused a certain large loco chain of adding – formaldehyde. Well, formaldehyde is delicious! And the bonus is you can’t feel your tongue if the food is bad.
The owner of Los Zarape is from Acapulco, and we bantered in my lousy Catholic school/taqueria Spanish. I told him I was surprised the tortillas were so thin since homemade tortillas are usually fatter. He told me mine were too cold, and he brought me a fresh stack of hot tortillas. He had slipped a pupusa in the middle of the pile, “There’s your fat tortilla” he joked.
I asked, “When did you start making pupusas in Acapulco?”
He said, “Oh, we have a few Salvadorians in the kitchen.”
“And one gringo making the hamburgers?”
A whole chicken with sides runs around ten bucks, and is a nice takeout family meal on a busy Friday. If you visit Los Zarape on a weekday, try the burrito ranchero with two salsas. The pupusa was damn good too. Like El Indio and Michoacan, Zarape is a popular name for restaurants, so you probably won’t find this place on the internet. The address is below. Just don’t block the TV – these guys are serious about their American Chopper.
14110 Oxnard Street Van Nuys Ca 91401