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September 16, 2014

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Phat Phrank’s is no gringo joint

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The carne asada taco at Phat Phrank’s.

The Details

Phat Phrank's Mexican Food
4850 W. Sunset Road, 247-6528
Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

In the lingering thralls of a horrid economy, neighborhood restaurants need to seize upon any available advantage. An enticing name can attract customers, while an inappropriate one might deter them. Which brings us to Phat Phrank’s at Sunset and Decatur …

I assumed a place calling itself Phat Phrank’s would specialize in gringo Mexican food, while a friend of mine figured it might be a hot dog stand—not the best messages to fire out at passersby. And though the food is somewhat Americanized—no hot dogs, mind you—it’s also quite delicious, indicative of chef/owner Frank Miranda’s SoCal and New Mexican background.

I’d suggest starting with the nachos ($5.49), tortilla chips overflowing in a gooey combination of cheese and housemade chile verde. It’s spicy but hardly overwhelming, so you’re sure to sop the plate clean.

Tacos are available with the standard variety of meats; I particularly like the carne asada, carnitas, and chicken ($2.49 apiece). I tend to shy away from chicken, as it dries out easily, but Miranda’s—served shredded rather than in grilled chunks—avoids that common malady.

Even better are the fish tacos ($3.49 apiece)—breaded pollock with dollops of Rosarito-style tartar sauce. Each bite is a perfect combination of crunchy and tender. This could be as good a fish taco as you’ll find in town.

All the tacos are served on single soft tortillas and adorned with cilantro, green onions and cabbage. The simple toppings highlight the flavorful meat—and isn’t that why you eat a taco in the first place? One quibble: The arrangement, which can easily devolve into anarchy, could benefit from an extra tortilla.

The carne asada breakfast burrito ($5.39) is also impressive, just the right ratio of potatoes, egg, meat and cheese. Eat it for breakfast or lunch; just keep in mind Phat Phrank’s closes at 6 p.m. (and that it isn’t open on weekends).

Finish up with the churros ($3.39). Miranda’s twist on the Mexican favorite features drizzles of caramel, chocolate and vanilla. It’s an indulgence well worth the caloric splurge.

Now to that name. As it happens, Miranda is rather an imposing individual who has gone by the nickname Fat Frank for some time. His grandkids informed him that “Phat” was a cooler way to spell it, and that was that. So head to Phrank’s, and get some phat Mexican phlavors.

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