By Lindsey Maeda
Serving up an array of affordable Mexican dishes, Lupe’s #2 has built a loyal customer base that keeps locals and foreigners coming back for more. Lupe’s is located on one of East Los Angeles’ main streets, 3rd St., but it can be easily overlooked. Its obscure location, sandwiched between two automotive shops, is probably the reason why community-goers may fail to notice it.
The lot where Lupe’s is located is fairly small. It contains a compact parking lot that will only accommodate five to six vehicles. With this in mind, some will find themselves parking on the street.
Besides its cramped parking lot, the actual food stand is inviting. Customers may take a seat at the counter, which wraps halfway around the stand, and has an inside look of the kitchen. Watching flanks of meat sizzle and steam on the grill, while wired baskets of fries are submerged into vats of blistering oil right before your eyes, adds to this cozy ambiance. Customers may find this entertaining as they wait for their food to be prepared.
Patio seating is available as well, but not the most enjoyable. Although the workers keep the area clean, it can get annoying swatting flies away from your food every so often. The food stand is also located across from the metro line, so diners may experience some background noise, coming from the trains and cars passing by. The workers are quick, although not always attentive when it comes to ordering food.
All four workers cook and prepare the food, and one of these workers also takes down orders, keeps track of the tabs and collects the money from customers. Lupe’s offers an expansive menu that will satisfy many different palates.
Those looking for a twist on a familiar side order may want to try the guaca fries at $2.50. Crisp fries are smothered with sizeable globs of fresh guacamole. The guacamole has a buttery taste that is delightful. It is used to top other dishes including the taquitos de guacamole, also at $2.50. The order comes with two taquitos, which are deep-fried, crunchy corn tortillas stuffed with shredded beef. They are decent, but taste bland without the guacamole.
Lupe’s is also known for their variety of burritos for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. The steak burrito at $5.15 is a large flour tortilla, filled with bits of carne asada, refried beans, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. It can be ordered with either red or green chile sauce. The bean burritos at $3.15 can be ordered with red or green chile, or cheese. The tortillas used for the burritos are toasted, which gives them a tasty, grainy flavor.
Those looking for something to snack on may want to try the quesadilla at $3.75 or the tostada at $3. The quesadilla overflows with cheddar cheese, and may be ordered with onions and chile. The red chile sauce is spread onto the quesadilla in ample amounts, and may overpower it.
The tostada has a refreshing bite to it. A corn tortilla is fried crunchy and stacked with layers of beans, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. They also offer a few less traditional dishes, such as the steak sandwich at $5 and all-beef hot dogs at $2.
Although the items on Lupe’s overall menu will satisfy any growling stomachs, dishes including the burritos and steak sandwich can be messy while eating. Because the burritos are overfilled and the bread on the steak sandwich gets soggy, these items tend to fall apart. Thirsty customers should also be aware that all beverage refills are an additional $0.50.
Lupe’s has catered to the taste buds of three to four generations. It still remains as a family-owned and operated business, started by Manuel and Adeline Portillo in 1972. When thinking about its name, some might question whether there is a Lupe’s #1, since the establishment is called “Lupe’s #2.”
It is quite ironic, because the Portillo family established Lupe’s #2, first. Later in 1991, they began Lupe’s #1. After all these years, the original Lupe’s has created a strong line of customers. Locals as well as people from cities such as Fontana and Sacramento, and from states as far as Arizona and New York have designated Lupe’s as their go-to place for scrumptious Mexican dishes.
John Anthony, the current owner, also mentioned that his grandparents (the original owners), even shipped burritos through Fed-Ex to a customer in Japan. He said this particular customer had eaten at their food stand and loved the burritos so much that they wanted to share them with their family and friends back home.
Lupe’s is located at 4642 E. 3rd St. in East Los Angeles. Its business hours run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed on Sundays. For further information, Lupe’s can be reached at (323)-266-6881.