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House of Dimes, An Indian Taco Joint in South LA

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Welcome to Dining On A Dime, a feature in which Lucas Kwan Peterson surveys LA's cheap eats—often obscure, ethnic, unsung restaurants—proving that dining on a dime is alive, well, and quite tasty in this here city. Where do you want us to go next? Do share.
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House of Dimes in Jefferson Park received its name because the tacos it became famous for used to cost a dime. It's no longer a full-time restaurant -- the current proprietress, who once worked for the original owner, is getting on in years, hence the restaurant's highly limited hours: Thursday-Saturday, 11am-8pm. Still, that's plenty of time for locals to get their fill of tacos, chili, and burgers from this neighborhood institution.

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By most accounts, the restaurant opened in 1949. It's not much to look at on the outside, and you can easily miss it and its bleached-out, pink exterior. Come to the think of it, it's not much to look at on the inside either, resembling a tiny, smoky shack with a TV in the corner tuned to CNN. A sink in the back shows where dishes are hand washed. There's a one long counter lined with six or seven non-matching plastic chairs. There's not a lot of room -- when I walked in, I bumped the back of someone's chair with the door.

The restaurant is oddly categorized as Mexican on most websites -- this is definitely not the case, and those seeking real Mexican food will be in for a surprise. The mother-son team that run the place are African American, and the tacos are about as authentically Mexican as El Paso and La Victoria products. They are tasty, however, in a Tito's Tacos-esque kind of way -- well-seasoned ground beef, lots of shredded cheddar cheese and lettuce and a soft shell that's charred to give it the feel and texture of a hard shell. They're a bargain at $2.50 -- large, bursting at the seams, really. They are served, necessarily, with a spoon and many napkins.
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Tacos come in a few options: veggie, turkey, chili, and their signature "Indian" tacos. I asked why they were called Indian tacos, as they seemed to me to be fairly standard beef tacos, and the man working the grill said, "I don't know. I think the previous owner was half Indian or something like that." So there's no actual reason they're called Indian tacos, I asked. "Nope. Just a name," he responded, and went back to the grill.

The tacos are good -- where this place really shines, however, is with their burgers and chili. A chili cheese burger will set you back $4.75 and take you into a heavenly coma of sodium and grease. The burgers (all made-to-order) are simply done, with the right amount of char on the outside, and the chili is the perfect condiment to make any others superfluous (though the bun does come with a little mayo and mustard) -- smoky and with a perfect balance of spice and tomato flavor.

Bonus tip: There are sodas and water but there are no fries, or sides of any kind. Unless a chilidog counts as a side.
— Lucas Kwan Peterson
· All Dining On A Dime Coverage [~ELA~]

House of Dimes

1815 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

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