The smell of carnitas fills the air over the lines of people waiting outside the front door of Los 5 Puntos.
Employees know some of the customers so well that they know their orders before they ask.
Customers watch as employees chop up the tender brown meat, weighing it on a scale before wrapping it up in white paper. The sound of hands slapping masa into tortillas can be heard from behind the counter.
Located on the same corner in Boyle Heights for nearly 50 years, Los 5 Puntos is more than just a carnicería. For many customers, it’s a neighborhood institution, a place where tradition meets the community. And while it’s busy every weekend with locals, the store gears up for even busier times starting in November, when people from all over Los Angeles come for their holiday tamales and masa.
Manager Stephen Sotelo, the owners’ son, says the homemade tortillas and carnitas are the most popular items. The freshness and quality are what sets them apart from other markets’.
“The ladies are right there in front of the customers making them,” he says, referring to the tortillas and tamales. “A lot of people say handmade when they put the masa in those little hand pressers. That is not really handmade.”
Read more at Boyle Heights Beat