Cemitas Poblanas Elvirita
Before each home game this season, ClipperBlog will run “ClipperBlog Eats,” a restaurant recommendation from its resident restaurant reviewer, Ben Mesirow. Below is today’s suggestion:
It’s time to get serious. The first week of the playoffs was fun, a celebration of mostly lopsided meaningful-ish basketball with a few tense moments sprinkled like fleur de sel on top of the little caramel of the early first round – a crunchy Steph Curry bomb here, a sharp Jerryd Bayless back cut there – but now we can finally dig into Clippers – Spurs, one of the very few series with consequential basketball still to play.
Game five in a tied series is incredibly important (as are, to be fair, most games in playoff series), and so it is only fitting to celebrate tonight’s weighty game with a damn weighty sandwich, a cemita from Cemitas Poblanas Elvirita.
Elvirita’s is a tiny little shop on 1st street in Boyle Heights, just across from the gigantic Evergreen Cemetary, but any morbid thoughts about the Zombie Spurs will be exorcised as soon as you step into the room. The interior is sparsely decorated but bright and cheerful, vibrant orange walls with two classic arcade games softly humming 8-bit theme songs and a giant pictorial menu serving as just about the only design features.
That menu is dominated, as you might imagine, by cemitas – large sandwiches from Puebla, Mexico – dressed with different cuts of meat. Each cemita comes on a giant sesame seed roll with avocado, onion, chipotle, the herb pápalo, and the Mexican string cheese quesillo. The meat options are many, from the ever-popular breaded beef milanesa to carnitas to chicken mole, barbacoa (a personal favorite), and well beyond. Regardless of filling, the cemitas are huge and delicious and layered with complex flavors, the creamy quesillo and avocado perfectly offsetting the smoky, spicy, sweet chipotle, which is brightened up with pápalo, all in service of the excellent meats and somehow marshaled into precise harmony by that sturdy bread. They are miraculous and incredibly satisfying, a glorious combination of flavors that will somehow leave you both exhilarated and a little sluggish from indulgence, the perfect combination to take in what should be an exciting pick-me-up of a basketball game. 3010 E 1st St, Los Angeles 90063; (323) 881-0428; no website