Briana Valdez’s HomeState has been garnering a whole lot of buzz since opening late last year. It seems that everyone’s ears perk up at the mention of queso and Frito Pie. Mine certainly do.
Ms. Valdez, who moved from Austin to Los Angeles in 2000, previously worked at Bouchon in Beverly Hills.
I made my way here on a quiet Sunday with my favorite Texan in tow. After growing up in Austin, Esme knows her Tex Mex and barbecue, and I wouldn’t have wanted to dine here with anyone else.
Fun fact: Esme blew my mind sometime back in 2003 (while we were studying abroad in Rome) when she informed me that a barbecue isn’t a barbecue unless there’s brisket. Needless to say, the grilled hot dogs and hamburgers of my youth did not constitute a proper barbecue.
The adorably appointed dining room was totally packed during our visit. We placed our order at the front counter and grabbed a table outside, and the bulk of the spread was brought soon after. A few forgotten items took a bit longer.
The first dish to arrive was the the least Tex-Mex-inspired item on the menu, the “Kale Cabbage Salad” ($8), comprised of organic baby kale, cabbage, cotija cheese, pecans, and radishes, with a lime vinaigrette on the side.
While the salad’s components were fresh enough, the dressing didn’t meld with the various ingredients due to its table-side application. This kale salad ought to have been well massaged.
While I appreciated the high-quality cheese and fresh chilies and cilantro used in the queso ($6), its texture was far too runny. Every time my El Milagro tortilla chips went in for a dip, the cheese just couldn’t cling on. Pass the Velveeta and Ro*tel, please.
The tastiest and most memorable menu item was the “Frito Pie in a Bag” ($6.50), a soul-warming mixture of corn chips, chili con carne, cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and pickled onions and jalapenos.
And finally, a duo of tacos. First up was the “Trinity” ($3), a skimpily-portioned but tasty mash up of bacon, scrambled eggs, potato, and cheddar tucked inside a house-made flour tortilla. Plenty more filling, as well as zestier salsas, would’ve been appreciated.
From the “Daytime Tacos” section of the menu, I chose the “Brisket” with cabbage and guacamole ($3.50) on a flour tortilla. Unlike the “Trinity,” this one was robustly stuffed, and the flavors were good too.
Save for the Frito Pie, everything that we sampled at HomeState was a bit of a letdown. While the seasoning was mostly on point for every dish, a handful of missteps with regards to texture and technique kept us from totally warming up to the food. HomeState’s ambiance and energy, on the other hand, were palpable. Still, my favorite Texan and I probably won’t be back anytime soon.
4624 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
One year ago: Dominique Ansel Bakery – New York City
Two years ago: Shaanxi Gourmet – Rosemead
Three years ago: Torihei – Los Angeles (Torrance)
Four years ago: Pa-Ord Noodle – Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Five years ago: Yun Chuan Garden – Monterey Park
Six years ago: Eating in Cambodia
Seven years ago: Mini Apple Pies