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trendy mexican

looking for a trendy mexican restaurant with ambiance for a friend coming to town who loves mexican and cant find any in the midwest

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  1. Well, if you want a trendy Mexican restaurant, go to Mexicali in Studio City and sit amongst all the BPs. If you want a GOOD Mexican restaurant with ambiance, go to La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle Heights -- but trendy it's definitely not.

    1. You might try Frida in Beverly Hills. The location alone would make it trendy, but I have heard that the food is decent. however, I must ask why your friend wants trendy mexican food in a city where there is so much wonderful, non-trendy mexican food. Instead, get some fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada, some ceviche at La Playita, some Oaxacan food at Monte Alban, get a walnut ice (nieve) at El Mercadito, etc.

      1. I get the whole trendy mexican thing and sorry, Mexicali is not it (yes, you'll see a lot of writers/producers there that your pal most likely wouldn't recognize but the food is eeck -- ).

        Here are my selections:

        Mexico City (Los Feliz, trendy actors)
        Malo (Silverlake -- Brad Pitt sighting a few weeks back)
        Casa Vega (great food -- I know I'm in the minority on the board, many celeb sightings here -- it's dark so celebs love to come here, esp mid week)
        El Cholo, SM (kinda)
        *** First two are really trendy, esp Malo

        1 Reply
        1. re: Silverlaker

          Funny thing, I've spotted Brad Pitt at Casa Vega a few years back.

          HE loves him some "mexican" food.

        2. El Cholo in SM has the faux-Mexican ambience down, but the food is atrocious.

          There, I said it.

          Anyone out there remember the old Chi-Chi's chain out east from the late 70s/early 80s? The grub at El Cholo is like that. An abomination in a region blessed with incredible Mexican food of all stripes.

          Having said that, Silverlaker's list does contain some trendy spots, no doubt.

          For a hopping hot spot with wild décor and ear-splitting noise level, and food that really polarizes Chowhounds, why not Border Grill?

          And when you want really great Mexican food and want to get as un-trendy as possible, hit Enrique's in Long Beach.

          1. I second the Mexicali suggestion. I think the food is great and its usually busy with a lot of trendy people there.
            They also take reservations which is great for groups.

            1. BORDER GRILL, santa monica
              can make resers on opentable.

              1. Yes, Border Grill -- how could I forget that! I'm not a big fan of El Cholo SM which is why i said kinda -- I just thought since it's in SM you could see stars, etc.

                The food is good at Mexicali, am I missing something?

                1 Reply
                1. Go no further than Frida or Border Grill. Frida is one of two high end Mexican gems in L.A. (the other being Babita).

                  Its located in Beverly Hills... which by itself doesn't say much since BH has so many uninteresting restaurants like The Stinking Rose & The Red Lobster... but Frida with its authentic & tasty decor straight from the best artisan shops in the Tlaquepaque suburb of Guadalajara is small but delivers a classy-exotic-down to earth feel.

                  The food is fabulous...although the menu is quite schizophrenic. No tasting menu & not a lot of cohesion throughout the various courses.

                  Here is my recommendation:

                  Ceviche of the Day
                  Pozole
                  Any one of the Filet Mignon dishes... but I favor the Filet Mignon in Huitlacoche sauce with stuffed Chayotes & Grilled Nopal (Cactus Paddle)

                  & finally you cannot miss with the Crepes in Cajeta (Goat Milk Caramel Sauce)

                  To drink...ask for the outstanding Monte Xanic Cab from Baja... otherwise the Marques Rioja is not bad.

                  Other than Frida... I would say Border Grill... the food is a big step down, but the atmosphere is unbeatable. On Friday nights they have a tight Latin Jazz Trio... get their early... stake a place at the Bar & just sample Appetizers & Desserts (avoid the boring entrees)....

                  Ceviche
                  Oysters
                  Savory Empanadas
                  Interesting Tamales
                  Prickly Pear Margaritas & good Tequilas

                  For dessert... the Pastel Ruffina or Aztec Chocolate Cake are the way to go.

                  1. i would definitely suggest border grill, fun and funky and great food and atmosphere, i also agree about mexacali, trendy but i think the food at border grill is way better, they also have a sister restaurant in ciudad which is located in downtown, mary sue milliken and susan are the owners of this wonderful place and i think they make some of the best mexican food around in a more fun and hip atmosphere.

                    1. Go to Border Grill for the trend factor with good enough food, and then take the time to hit one of the various Oaxacan joints (Gueleguetza, Monte Alban, etc.) for some truly great eats.

                      1. May I also chime in about Border Grill and Cuidad. I appreciate them both. Upscale, fun, fabulous drinks and some yummy food. Absolutely authentic? Sometimes the environment is as important as the food. I do like Border Grill alot. Maybe not considered Chowish (still working on figuring what that is), but a very good experience if one is willing to pay the price. I am.

                        1. No love for Frida? Or is it that few Hounds have tried it?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Yes, Frida I believe is THE mexican restaraunt. My office is down the street from them I eat there all the time. The tacos de rib eye are outstanding. The three salsas are fantastic, especially the chipotle one. I drool thinking about Frida's. Also before them a bunch of restaurants came and went these guys are staying. Plus they are opening a Frida's tacos at the Brentwood Mart. Can't wait

                          2. I've got to try border grill again, I've only had bad experiences here with food and service. Last few times the mains were uninspiring and the appetizers tasted reheated. That was a year + ago though, but every time I've been the service has been horrendous. Reminds me about the stereotype of LA Waiter/Actors.

                            What about Lares? I dunno, it maybe a bit "trendy"...i haven't seen since the remodel from the fire...i liked the food though.

                            La Cabana in Venice...i went here last weekend, seemed pretty happening. Parking and area was kind of suspect though. My food was actually pretty good, although hounds' have lambasted in the past.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Xericx

                              Like I mentioned earlier... most of the main courses at Border Grill are very bland & the service is notoriously mediocre. Perhaps the only salvageable main course is the Red Snapper a la Veracruzana.

                              But the Appetizers, Cocktails & Desserts are outstanding.

                              1. re: Xericx

                                Lares sucks... there was a very trendy Mexican / Meso American place right down the street.... Sabor Too! But I heard it might have closed?

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  I've always had pretty good mexican food at Lares. But I usually order the chile colorado or something along those lines. I liked it, but the parking and wait were kind of prohibitive for me to frequent it.

                                  1. re: Xericx

                                    I wouldn't call Lares trendy... and since the fire, it hasn't been the same.

                                    1. re: Xericx

                                      Please give Frida a shot then let me know what you think of Lares. The food at Lares didn't taste bad...but I don't like the offering or their service.

                                      They particularly pissed me off when I ordered something like Camarones Rancheros & I wanted to the dish in a true Mexican style - NO FREAKING RICE & BEANS, NO FREAKING SOUR CREAM & GUACAMOLE - they had Calabacitas or Nopales on the menu but they wouldn't substitute it... so I told them to stop claiming they serve Authentic Mexican cuisine.

                                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      Sabor closed around 2-3 years ago, and is now Violet.

                                  2. nm.....i just reread your post..

                                    1. FRIDA.

                                      Awesome Mexican food, in large portions and decent prices. In the middle of Beverly Hills. What more could your friend expect? :-)

                                      1. Senor Fred in Sherman Oaks on Ventura just west of Woodman(the all black exterior) has some very fine specialties beyond their standard fare that are very good, such as salmon, lamb shanks, cochinita pibil, among others. Crab enchiladas quite good as well, as are their margaritas. Good bar scene.
                                        Forget Casa Vega, any restaurant with the name Acapulco/El Torito/Chevys(same ownership).
                                        Mexicali in Studio City is decent, yet brings a healthy approach to the food which some find a bit too sanitized. Crowd is definitely loud and fun-loving, with waits up until eleven on weekends, yet they do take reservations.

                                        1. Border Grill in Santa Monica

                                          MExico City in Los Feliz

                                          Malo on Sunset in Silverlake

                                          Being from the Midwest, ANY of these places will blow them away.

                                          1. I haven't tried Frida yet, but last time I walked by,
                                            both Celestino Drago and Nicolas Cage were sitting there....

                                            so it must be good food and "sceney"

                                            1. From what I gather, the OP's friend is not necessarily a chowhound...just interested in "Mexican" (I'm sure they mean combo plate type Mexican) and a fun atmosphere. I say El Cholo SM is perfect for that. All of the non-Chowhound friends I've taken there from back east LOVE it. It's lively, has dishes that will be familiar to the non-adventurous, and the margaritas are OK if you order the non-frozen ones. Personally, El Cholo is not on my list of places to eat. But I know a lot of people aren't looking for authentic, and would hate to eat at Guelegetza more than I'd hate to eat at El Cholo. It's not as bad as Chi Chi's, which is worse than del Taco. Not everyone's a Chowhound, and we're not going to convert them!

                                              Of course if I'm wrong and the OPs friend IS a Chowhound, don't go to El Cholo.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: writergirl

                                                But El Cholo SM isn't "trendy", it's "fun". I have a soft spot in my heart for the original El Cholo on Western near downtown-- the food is far from great, but it's certainly edible if you're in the area.

                                                If this friend wants places where they'll see "stars" and/or "hot people", they could go to Marix Tex-Mex in Santa Monica or El Coyote in Hollywood; again, abominable food but a bit of a Scene. That just might do.

                                                1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                                  Yeah, you're right, most likely zero "star" power at El Cholo. And probably too many kids for it to be really trendy.

                                              2. If you do go to El Cholo, get the traditional cheese nachos with some extra salsa on the side. They're great!

                                                1. OK, not sure what the other Chows were smoking, but trendy isn't an adjective I would use for any of those restaurants with the exception of Ciudad. For trendy, try L'Scorpion on Hollywood, the Velvet Margarita, also in Hollywood, the Spanish Kitchen on La Cienega or for upscale, no longer trendy, Sonora Cafe on La Brea.

                                                  1. Not sure how limited you are to SM, but La Serenta is a GREAT mexican food restaurant, or at least the one in Boyle Heights is. Only been to El Cholo on Western, but it was ok. Not very good, just ok.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: camarokyle

                                                      The Westside ones have more star power but worse food.

                                                    2. In addition to La Serenata and Malo, you could try La Huasteca in old town Pasadena on S. Fair Oaks. Comfortable room, very attentive staff, full bar, nice sauces.

                                                      1. Malo is a scene but the food is truly mediocre.
                                                        Ditto for Mexico City in Los Feliz.

                                                        Guelagetza in K-Town has good food and music on the weekends; maybe music qualifies as a scene.
                                                        And La Parilla in Silver Lake has a guacamole cart -- does that qualify as scenelike?

                                                        1. I really enjoyed border grill a lot, and when I went for lunch I met one of the chefs and it was a really fun afternoon. the salsa verde is fantastic. I remember seeing that they had a great happy hour special but that was almost a year ago when I saw that, so you may want to double check on that.

                                                          I've never been to frida but i've gone by it a lot and considered it and it's always looked boring.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: r_oxymoron

                                                            You won't know it's boring unless you try it. It's certainly not boring at all. Some of the best chicken mole I've ever had, large entrees at fair prices for BH, and really good service.

                                                          2. The only thing worth consuming at Mexicali is the Margatinis. Trust me, I'm there a couple times a month and the only decent food is the Queso Fundido with Chicken and that's only if you're drunk and wanting a plate of cheese.