Boyle Heights Coffee Surprise

SignI’ve met quite a few people through social media and one of them is Chuy Tovar. I met him when he worked at Mariscos Jalisco. There he was always quick to greet me and because of his outgoing personality, he was the perfect face of the business.

I recently learned that he is now co-owner of Primera Taza coffee shop in Boyle Heights. A quick search revealed some interesting things:

  • their coffee is largely sourced from Mexico
  • the lonches de lomo is something worth experiencing
  • local art is displayed

Local art displayed

Art 2The inside of Primera Taza gives you the impression that the shop is part of the local community. Local art and photographs line the walls of this cozy shop. A mix of regular seats and bar height tables are available. The short time I was there most of the customers were greeted by Chuy with a friendly handshake or a hug.

Chuy has family connections into the Mexican coffee industry. He primarily purchased from farmers from areas such as Veracruz, Guadalajara, Nayarit and Jalisco and primarily from micro lots. As a result, he does not acquire enough beans to bag and sell. He later commented that Peruvian coffee is starting to get popular.

Coffee made from freshly ground beans from Veracruz Mexico

Coffee made from freshly ground beans from Veracruz Mexico

I ordered two lonches de lomo. While I waited for my lonches to be made, Chuy ground the Veracruz beans and made a fresh batch of coffee for another customer and me. This coffee was full bodied and very smooth. This coffee suited me well as I’m not fond of coffee with medium to high acidity.

Lonche de lomo

Lonche de lomo

Chuy’s wife, Rosalinda Hernandez, added various lonche to their sandwich menu. I tried the lonche de lomo and it was absolutely delicious. The pork was moist and since it was marinated in adobo sauce, it was full of flavor. In addition, sliced avocados and thinly sliced pickled jalapeños were added to the sandwich. This gave the sandwich a little bit of heat and a very slight crunch as you bit into a jalapeño.

In my opinion, the choice of bread is what makes the difference in a sandwich, or in this case a lonche. Because Chuy is passionate about the bread, he uses Birote Salado and it’s actually baked in Jalisco, Mexico. The bread has a crunchy exterior and is soft inside.

Cheesecake by the slice

Cheesecake by the slice

Primera Taza’s cheesecake is very light and creamy. This is due to their choice of using mascarpone instead of cream cheese. Since I’m not a New York cheesecake snob, I did enjoy their version, particularly since it wasn’t filling.

Located directly across the street from the Mariachi Plaza Gold Line station, Primera Taza has an ideal location. If you decide to drive instead, there is limited street parking available and I found out later that they have parking behind the shop.

If you are in the area, you definitely need to stop by Primera Taza to get the complete Boyle Heights experience. Chuy will be there to greet you.

Primera Taza


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About the Author

Follow Bryan on twitter for the latest and greatest in food trucks and street food. @btsunoda.

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