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The Beach Gourmet: Gallegos Mexican Deli: Still Going Strong, 60 Years On:

Gallegos Mexican Deli has been serving Mexican food deli-style for over 60 years, and has been at its current location on Venice Boulevard, since 2002.

Now, in the Los Angeles area, anything that survives over 30 tears is considered legendary, so 60 years? (Surely nobody was alive then!) Well, that alone proves that Gallegos is doing something right, so this week I popped in for lunch to find out for myself the secret to their staying power.

Originally established in 1946 by one Jose Maria Gallegos and his brother Ezequiel, both Mexican immigrants, as a tortilleria appropriately called “Gallegos Brothers,” their first location was on Olympic Boulevard, at 15th Street.

In 1984, the restaurant was kept in the family and sold to daughter and son-in-law Frances and Tereso Gomez. The first move took place when they uprooted and settled at 15th and Broadway. Along the way, Gallegos became very popular for their authentic and affordable dishes, including their renowned large and luscious burritos.

It was one of these that my friend and I each chose after perusing the modest menu affixed to the wall behind the counter in this medium-sized and sparingly decorated deli.

With a variety of meat, chicken, vegetables, and on Thursdays a seafood special, there is something for everyone. My friend opted for the California burrito (The Big One! – chicken, beef and carnitas, beans, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, mild salsa and rice, $6.35), while I chose the grilled vegetable version (grilled seasonal vegetables, jack cheese, avocado, rice, lettuce and ranchera salsa, $5.10). For an extra buck one can have them WET, topped with either mole, enchilada sauce or tomatillo.

After a very short time, these impressively large burritos arrived, unceremoniously, on paper plates that perfectly matched our plastic knives and forks and sympathetically complimented the tiny paper pots that we had retrieved from the self-serve condiment station and filled with salsas, pickled carrots and some deliciously hot, large whole jalapenos.

My burrito was pleasingly crowded with grilled carrots, zucchini, onion, red and green bell peppers, as well as the base of jack cheese, avocado, rice, lettuce and ranchera salsa, all wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla and topped with a very good enchilada sauce.

Even my friend Daniel, known well to me for his formidable gastronomic capacity, balked slightly when these beasts arrived, but he was very pleased to see that the event inside his California Burrito (The Big One!) was very well attended, with lashings of chicken, beef and carnitas to accompany the generous staples of the dish.

This was a good lunch, and coming in at a little over 15 bucks total for the whole caboodle, including chips, salsa and a couple of sodas, was good value too.

I for one am glad that the Brothers Gallegos came from Mexico and settled on the Westside way back in 1946, leaving a tasty legacy of honest-to-goodness, no frills, Mexican home-style cooking.

Gallegos, 12470 Venice Boulevard, Mar Vista, 310.391.2587  

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