It was about 1 AM on a Saturday in September. I was ravenously hungry after a mind-blowing set by Bloomington, Indiana’s legendary John Wilkes Booze at a hole-in-the-wall in north Koreatown/south Hollywood called Il Corral. I needed a burrito like a USC sorostitute needs coke. Driving east on Melrose, I saw what could only be a 24-hour taqueria come into view. I was Brigham Young cresting the Wasatch Range and seeing the Great Salt Lake. THIS IS THE PLACE. DRIVE ON.
I parked in a strip mall’s lot, where a toothless bum sat rocking himself in place like Bizarro Bill Gates. I went to the counter. The menu helpfully explained to me what burritos and tacos were, since I obviously had never eaten them before. No matter: I needed pig, and I needed it fast. “Burrito al pastor, with everything, for here, and a small Mountain Dew.” I greedily unwrapped it and bit down. It was like Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream, this pastor. The flavors of the marinated pork and a hint of salsa roja combined to induce transsubstantiation in my mouth. For a brief moment, I was creator of worlds beyond number. Entire galaxies were at my command. Subatomic forces were my playthings.
I did a 24-hour hour, midnight-to-midnight fast this past Sunday. By 11:55, I was famished. I
knew exactly where to go, though: I hopped on the 10, took the 110 north, emerged from the womb of the Four-Level onto the 101 north, and got off at Vermont. I didn’t need pig this time, though. “Birria burrito, for here. Con todo.” I smiled as the zesty, gamey, tender
slow-cooked goat and the beans, rice, onions, and cilantro mingled on my tongue with the first bite. There is a God in heaven, and He truly loves me.
QuÃ© Ricos is at 712 N. Vermont Avenue (just north of Melrose), Los Angeles. It is open 24/7.