There is a common misconception that we don’t have seasons in Los Angeles. We know when the seasons are changing. There are two distinct events that herald the coming winter: the Christmas displays replace the Halloween merchandise, and the lunch trucks start selling champurrado.
Champurrado is a type of atole, which is a hot drink popular in the winter. There are a variety of atoles, but chapurrado is probably the most popular. It is made with chocolate, milk, masa harina, and piloncillo (those cone-shaped pressed sugars you see in bins in the the market). It is sometimes made with water instead of milk, but that produces an unpleasantly thin and runny drink.
My favorite champurrado can be found at La Luz del Dia on Olvera Street. This little corner restaurant near the square is often overlooked by visitors who are drawn to the mega-margarita patios in the center of Olvera Street. But locals know to hit La Luz for killer tamales and their rich, flavorful beef picadillo, as well as for the champurrado. La Luz’s version is infused with chocolate and just a touch of vanilla and cinnamon. It is so thick that as it cools, it develops an almost pudding-like consistency. Let its chocolately goodness warm your insides while you watch the ladies pat away at homemade tortillas and you will never even make it to the margaritas.
La Luz del Dia (213) 628-7495
W-1 Olvera Street LA CA 90012