Boyle Heights and the area around The Grove are two very disparate L.A. neighborhoods. But Escuela Taqueria has deep roots east of the L.A. River.
In fact, Steven Arroyo's new restaurant just off Beverly Boulevard doesn't simply bring Eastside-style tacos to a swath of the city where such eats are rare breeds; the cooking at Escuela specifically descends from Bea's El Burrito, the now-closed Boyle Heights restaurant run by Arroyo's grandmother.
Still, Escuela is no taco time capsule. The décor mixes Shepard Fairey prints and dime-store paintings with a soundtrack of vintage A Tribe Called Quest and T. Rex, while the kitchen turns to California ranchers for its meat.
The menu is lean, offering eight taco fillings; all tacos are served two to an order. The melting fat and tender meat in the pork-belly tacos (pictured; $6) will undoubtedly garner many fans, but we were surprised to discover that the chuleta tacos ($6), full of diced pork chop and minimally garnished with a sliver of avocado, carried just as much porcine savor.
The kitchen has a way with fish tacos, too, from the chorizo- and preserved-lemon-flecked shrimp mojo ($7) to a special of prawn tacos garnished with the crustaceans' fried heads.
Escuela Taqueria, 37615 Beverly Blvd., Mid-City; 323-939-8226