Thursday, February 20, 2003

lucy's el adobe cafe

Living in LA, you quickly realize that there are three different "kinds" of Mexican food. There's nouveau and inventive Mexican cuisine -- think Border Grille, or even Allegria on Sunset Blvd. There's Quacan (sorry about the spelling), represented both at the divey level with Guelagetzla or at the more upscale Tlopazola Grill. Then there's old school divey Mexican -- heavy on the queso, heavy on the grease. The often-heralded king of old school Mexican is El Cholo -- both the older edition on Western down in Koreatown, and the Santa Monica update. Then you have El Compadre on Guitar Row up on Sunset, serving margaritas on fire. Meaning, there's a flame coming out of the margarita. Whoooooee. El Charro up in Los Feliz has been a sure-fire fount of good eats, too. El Coyote on Beverly has a notoriously maligned menu, and cheap margaritas that evidentally aren't that cheap anymore.

Lucy's El Adobe, on Melrose, is an LA institution, and like many institutions, to eat there might not give one any idea of why it's an institution. 'Cause it certainly ain't the food. Way overpriced -- we're talking $14 for combination plates of un-enormous sizes -- with food ranging from mediocre to inedible.

Yet, it's got a great charm to it. This was, after all, the place where the Eagles and Linda Rondstadt and Jerry Brown and Jackson Browne et al always ate in the late '70s, and I once, in fact, attended a fundraiser there where both Linda Rondstadt and Jimmy Webb performed. Lyle Lovett has even been known to thank Lucy's El Adobe in his liner notes on several occasions. And on the wall in one of the main rooms, there are autographed photographs of L.A. and California musicians, newscasters, former Governors. And yes, even a photograph of my mother. Kinda great.

The Margaritas are good and tasty. And with some searching, you can find a reliable thing to order. For me, it's the chorizo and eggs. Goes down smooth. And there's a certain elegance and charm, sometimes, to eating bad Mexican. In my opinion, anyway.