Corazon Y Miel
6626 Atlantic Ave., Bell, CA 90201 (map); 323-560-1776; corazonymiel.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Some interesting potential here, but they need to throttle back on their impulse to add more
Want Fries with That? Yes; pretty nicely executed skinny-cut spuds
Price: Corazon Burger (w/fries), $10; Corazon y Miel, $3; Jalapeño y Tocino, $6
An unlikely new burger friend popped into my life a few months back. Unlikely, I say, because before we met in person he had more than a few choice words about my burger opinions. Some of you know him already. On Serious Eats he's Sinosoul, and sinosoul.com is where you'll find his incisive and, well, let's call it direct food writing. Now I call him Tony and a friend. We still don't always see eye to eye about burgers, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy one together, which is just what we did not too long ago at Corazon Y Miel, an interesting restaurant in the unassuming suburban landscape of Bell just southeast of Downtown Los Angeles.
The chef here is Eduardo Ruiz, who made his way to Bell by way of one of the best kitchens in LA when it comes to handling meat, Animal. The man with a plan for this little Mexico City-inspired project is Christian Pulido, and his bag is the fancy cocktail. You could certainly do a lot worse as a pairing. Unfortunately, when it comes to their burger, Corazon Y Miel could do a lot better.
The Corazon Burger ($10) is a sizable affair of beef, bacon, grilled queso panela, and sweet jalapeño onion relish. It came out looking rather attractive despite being (what I would consider) overdressed. The cemita bun looked like the gifted offspring of a bolillo roll and a commercial hamburger roll. The patty had a serious crust, and the panela and bacon were a match made in cielo.
Alas, all these appealing component parts added up to an overdone burger in more ways than one. The patty itself was cooked well past my medium-rare preference. Add to that too fine of a grind and you've got trouble. The beef had great flavor in its own right, but—I can hardly believe I'm saying this—it was hit with way to much salt. The panela was an interesting choice and I can get into a grilled cheese (hello, halloumi!), but it was lost under the avalanche of other flavors. The bacon was just salt on top of salt, and the relish, oh my! The jalapeño relish was evocative of Fatburger's relish but way sweeter. I mean way sweeter. That is to say, far too sweet. (Did I mention it was too sweet?)
As it happens, Tony and I agree. From his perspective: "The cemita bun is fun and interesting, and I'm sure they use decent beef, but the relish was a sugar bomb."
The accompanying fries were a solid example of skinny cut spuds, though not exceptional.
We also tried the signature dish, Corazon y Miel (heart and honey; $3), which is served in a small bowl with a honey vinaigrette and tossed with a few some appealing slivers of onion. It's an elegant dish, but the chicken heart has too tough of a texture to ever win me over.
My favorite dish was the Jalapeño y Tocino ($6), a bacon-wrapped jalapeño with chorizo and a creamy corn salad that is fashioned in the style of the street corn you'd find in Mexico City (or Los Angeles for that matter).
On balance I'd say the folks behind Corazon Y Miel have a restaurant with great potential, but their burger needs some tweaking. The impulse to chef-up their burger overshadowed the basic quality and craft of the beef and bun.
About the author: Damon is one of our roving burger reporters and food writers. When he's not eating more than is warranted or healthful (and then writing about it) he can be found writing and producing for television and film. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.