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Jul 20, 2006 10:03 PM

Mexican in the Valley

I'm looking for a great sit down mexican restaurant w/full bar. I've found Los Toros in Chatsworth, but there has to be more than that?????????? I'll even be willing to settle for beer/wine only, but no fast food.
Thank you

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  1. In that area your only bet is Sierra's on Canoga Ave. in Chatsworth-full bar/sit down...

    Average food.


    1. I can recommend 2 that I feel are wayyyy better:
      Sol y Luna (owned by the Las Fuentes family) in Tarzana, on Ventura Blvd.
      El Patron on Reseda Blvd, also in Tarzana, across from the Gelsons.

      1. Dos Arbolitos (Woodley & Nordhoff) has great food, beer & wine only. Nice seafood cocktails, campestre (braised pork), costillas (ribs) and the moles are good too.

        Casa de Carlos on Devonshire has full bar but the food is mediocre.

        I just read about a place on Topanga called Abuelitas Mexican Restaurant, the ad says it has a full bar and they won an award from SoCal Restaurant Writer's Assoc. as one of the top Mexican restaurants in SoCal. Never been there, maybe someone else can chime in.

        9 Replies
        1. re: markn

          I've been told I'm too negative, so I'll say that Abuelitas is the best Mexican restaurant in Topanga, and I'll keep the fact that it's the only Mexican restaurant in Topanga to myself.

          I wonder what the also-rans were for the SoCal Restaurant Writers' Association were. Taco Bell, Sagebrush Cantina and Casa Escobar?

          Seriously, Abuelitas is bad news. Mexican food as seen through the filter of Topanga, where all the potentially unhealthy things are removed -- including, for some reason, the flavour -- with the stereotypical lackadaisical service.

          On the other side of the Valley is Casa Vega and Ernie's Taco House, both of which have full bars. I quite like Bahia Caporales in Burbank myself, but I'm unsure of the presence of a full bar.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            You may have your mind made up but maybe you'd give them a second try. I think their food is terrific and it's my second favorite Mexican resto in LA. My first is Serenata di Garibaldi past downtown.

          2. re: markn

            The SoCal Restaurant Writer awards are a sham on a good day. Truly ignore them.
            Los Toros is ok for what it is trying to be.
            Carrillo's Deli on Sherman Way, with beer and wine, is WAY better than virtually anything mentioned in this thread so far. Authentic, fresh hand made tortillas, if you ask, wonderful guacamole, and everything else I have had has been exemplary.
            Forget Casa Vega - it is the El Coyote of the Valley.
            Forget most of the rest, other than the Fuentes family, with Sol Y Luna being their full liquor operation, even though I have not eaten there. Las Fuentes and Melody up around Vanowen and Reseda Blvd are their better, yet non tequila, operations.
            Mexicali Cantina in Studio City is good enough, yet fairly sanitized, and Senor Fred in Sherman Oaks is probably the best, priced accordingly, yet has some entree dishes that you will NEVER see in any other Mexican restaurant, Valley or elsewhere. It is meant to be focusing on the gourmet end of Mexican cooking, and its entree menu is actually better than its traditional enchilada, taco menu in my opinion.
            Great wine and beer list for a Mexican restaurant, including wines from MEXICO, would you believe!

            1. re: carter

              Carillo's is ok, Dos Arbolitos is much better IMO. Much more variety and better food. And much nicer and cleaner atmosphere.

              1. re: markn

                When you are in walking distance of Senor Fred, Woodley and Nordhoff seems three worlds away. OP did not mention what part of the Valley was of interest, even though Chatsworth was alluded to. There is plenty of variety at Carrillos, and while the decor is hardly referred to as up-scale, they keep it clean. Often friends and I get take-out from them for local parties.

                1. re: carter

                  I'll have to start investigating, carter -- for years we went to Tequilas and it was really great and cheap; then the ownership changed and it went straight to you-know-where, so we're on the lookout. Certainly you don't go to Casa Vega just for food -- it's really about the drinks there, and if you drink enough the food seems better.

                  What do you think of Barragan's or Rusty's Hacienda? I haven't tried them, but we're desperately seeking a replacement for Tequilas.

                  Mexicali is what I call an S&M restaurant -- Stand & Model. It's full of oh-so-beautiful people drinking reasonably good but expensive drinks, while the ugly people like myself get wedged in the back to dine on food that just rises to the middle of the road. I was so disappointed.

              2. re: carter

                We love Carrillos! The homemade corn tortillas, salsa verde and carnitas on a too-tired-to-cook day ... so delicious! And the tamales, I love 'em. They do nice sweet corn tamales in season. Also Dos Arboles is well worth a visit. He used to do some special stuff at his old location (pipian, stuff with capers, etc., not your standard valley mexican fare), but I've only eaten at the new place once. It was really good the one time. Nice tamales there, too. Mexicali I can't recommend unless you're interested in a Scene.

                1. re: carter

                  I'm not following you. Are you giving Sol y Luna a thumbs up? It's only a few miles from me and I was going to try it but my husband and daughter really hated it. Did they catch it on a bad day?

                  Mexicali in Studio City is very nice. I just wouldn't call it a "Mexican" resto because I don't think that's what most people are looking for. Nevertheless, the food is very fresh and flavorful.

                  1. re: rainey

                    rainey - I mentioned that I had not eaten at Sol y Luna, so cannot attest to the qualitative issue. Their other 2 operations have been fairly well received on this board over the years, yet not fully liquor licensed.

              3. Abuelitas is really great for a bit upscale mexican food. It sits above a stream and has a nice outdoor patio. Try the crab enchiladas. Might be a bit of a drive for you though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: duckduckgoose

                  I'll second Abuelita's. I see someone above doesn't like it but it's our favorite. I've been there when the food has been off but for my money it's consistently *very* good with excellent flavor.

                  The El Cid salad is nice. The tortilla soup is excellent. The empanadas are good and, though they serve a plate of three and ask which you'd like, they'll happily bring you one of each as well. Best of all, in my opinion, is the talapia in the cilantro sauce. They also have several vegetarian — hey, this is Topanga! what did you go there for? ;>

                  I wouldn't call Abuelits's "upscale" — the prices are competitive with any other local resto and the service is very relaxed. Only downside of Abuelita's for me is that the small dining room gets very noisy and conversation can be tough when it's full. But there's the patio which is lovely and an upstairs dining room that you can ask for (the answer may be "no", but you can always ask).

                  They also feature local artists and a couple of them are damned fine!

                2. Thank you all. At least I have a list to try.