El Patio Drive In #2 Returns!

Here's a bizarre superstition for you: I don't review restaurants located in buildings that once housed places I previously reviewed. In my mind, I feel guilty that my write-up didn't help the mom-and-pop survive, thus I leave the next tenants alone lest my bad luck rubs off on them. But I'm making a special exception for El Patio Drive In #2 because here is proof that restaurants can not only come back from the dead, but also thrive in the face of persecution.

The restaurant is an Anaheim institution, having stood in a shopping plaza on the corner of La Palma and Magnolia avenues for decades and served great Cal-Mex dishes for Mexicans and gabachos alike. But earlier this year, its landlord decided to raze the center that housed El Patio and other businesses in favor of building a McDonald's and Rite Aid. Not even lobbying by thousands of El Patio fans could stop Anaheim's gentrification-loving officials from signing off on the project, leading to the restaurant's closing in April.

But you can't keep a good taquero down: El Patio quickly reopened in May in a larger location, which used to house a soul restaurant (RIP, Papa's Fish N Soul Food; sorry my review couldn't help you survive). It's as wonderful as ever: big tortas, bigger burritos, perfect potato tacos, and epic cauldrons of pozole and menudos on weekends. All of the Cal-Mex combo plates made the transition, from the chile verde to machaca to delectable huevos rancheros. And, in a sign of the changing times, you can also find newer Mexican-food developments such as California burritos and carne asada fries.

Thankfully, El Patio's crowd followed it to this new spot, which buzzes all day (make sure to say hi to the prostitutes and cholos at the no-tell motel across the street). Plus, as a remembrance of its past, there's a picture of the original El Patio hanging on the wall—requiescat in taco. Your memory lives in every taco de asada gobbled down in seconds.

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