There’s something entirely dispiriting about eating out in a restaurant devoid of patrons. The intermingling conversations and laughter, the hustle and bustle of waiters delivering meals, the soul and essence of a place is lost. Those empty tables and chairs are ghosts haunting you. They are shiny beacons reminding you of what could be. When the patrons (two) are outnumbered by the staff (three) it’s hard to get a good bead on a restaurant.
Such was the case when The Monster visited Escuela. On a side street off of Beverly Boulevard sits this tiny taqueria from restaurateur Steve Arroyo (Cobras & Matadors, Potato Chips) with seven or so tables inside and a few outside. Kitschily decorated with chairs suspended from the ceiling and Shepard Fairey prints on the walls, this cash only restaurant features a limited menu of street style tacos, burritos and chips and guac. With the tunes jacked up and the friendly staff eager to please, it’s a wonder why the place is completely empty.
On this day an order of guacamole and chips, fish tacos and chicken tacos is the choice. The Monster could tell you the guac is delicious and fresh while the salsa needs a lot of work (thin and runny and not terribly tasty). He could tell you the chicken tacos are adequate (nothing about them is new or unique or different in taste or presentation) while the fish tacos are wonderful and surprising with their powerful flavors that are reminiscent of some of best fish tacos one might order south of the border. He could argue the prices are a bit high though also counter the quality may in fact justify the tariffs. He could tell you about the great tunes the staff plays loudly, waiting for our voices to crescendo over the soundtrack to a meal.
Instead, The Monster is going to sadly report that a restaurant with eager staff and a patron-friendly menu that would be perfect for a large group to take over in the late afternoon and hog all night long eating good grub and having raucous conversation instead sat empty when The Monster visited.
And this is made all the more weird when recounting this story to friends who swear when they went to Escuela it was jumping. The Monster will then go back another time and hope for the best. Because an empty restaurant is a sad restaurant is a sad Monster…
Why go? You like to please The Monster.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
308 N Stanley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036