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Best Mexican in the SF Valley?

  • m

Prefer Oaxacan but any region is fine just as long as it's homemade and pretty authentic.

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    1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

      Have to disagree on La Paz. Based on a couple recs here I went last night since I was in the area. Very disappointing. Sort of the Olive Garden or Black Angus of Mexican food.

      Seafood is supposed to be their specialty, so I ordered the paella, the fish tasted like it had been cooked last week and kept under a warmer or zapped in the microwave. Ditto on the crab legs. A couple shriveled up shrimp and way overcooked clams, and the sausage in it was flavorless. A ton and a half of rice though.

      The paella I had at L'Affair Cafe in Mission Hills a couple weeks ago was 100 times better.

      And the margaritas were basically all mixer and no tequila. I drank 2 and felt nothing. Even though Casa de Carlos has pretty mediocre food, after a couple margaritas I'm buzzed enough where I don't care....

      1. re: markn

        La Paz is absolutely terrible... a complete disgrace that they should label themselves as Yucatecan specialty. Its as mediocre as Tex-Mex gets.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          the trick to La Paz is ordering a la carte. Their tacos are the best I've ever had, and big enough to feed an army.

          1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

            Okay... but there is a little joint in Calabasas that serves excellent tacos coated with Parmesan cheese for about $2.

            La Paz's specialties are suppossedly the seafood & they suck... if they are going to be a great taqueria than they should stop pretending... until then its a very mediocre place that might have a few finds on the menu.

    2. I sure like the food I have had at Carrillo's Deli on Sherman Way just west of the Smart & Final store at Corbin, same center. Homemade tortillas, very fresh and tasty sauces, and one of the best guacs. Beer & wine, and very casual, and Spanish is heard all the time.
      I go there from Sherman Oaks, and have had them cater parties as well. Everyone seems to like their food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: carter

        I second the Carrillo's rec. I love the salsa verde, carnitas, and the luscious homemade tortillas.

        1. re: NeNePie

          Carillo's is good, also a block from there is Sabroso's (Vanowen & Corbin) which is very good too. Their charbroiled chicken tacos are killer. And I like Dos Arbolitos a lot (Woodley & Nordhoff). Their campestre (stewed pork) is really good, fork tender. Good seafood cocktails too.

        2. re: carter

          That place has ruined me for store-bought flour tortillas .. I go to their San Fernando location.

        3. La Paz in Calabasas is one of my favorites. Also good is Las Fuentes in Northridge.

          4 Replies
          1. re: SauceSupreme

            i second las fuentes, actually in reseda on vanowen. great carne asada burritos. also casita taco on magnolia and bakman in NoHo is tasty.
            rZA~

            1. re: anthonyrza

              Another vote for Las Fuentas. Had the "gringo style" shredded chicked burrito there last night. I hadn't been in a while, but it was still great.

            2. re: SauceSupreme

              Wow, we must have gone to Las Fuentes on a bad day. It was super busy and I guess our expectations were pretty high based on all the recs here. I think we got five or six different things and we weren't bowled over by any of it. Sorta La Fiesta circa 1975 if you're askin' me.

              1. re: NeNePie

                Went to Las Fuentes last night for the first time in a couple of years We were headed to El Jerazano but they close at 4PM on Sunday and GF liked the chow and especially the colorful chairs at Las Fuentes so it became Plan B. She had the Gringo Style Shredded Beef Burito and really enjoyed it - ALL OF IT! No room to even split a piece of flan! I had the Platano de Carne Asada. The carne was great, charred on the outside and still some rare and medium rare on the inside. Great flavor. Beans were tasty. Now the down side. Rice was awful, tasted like catsup flavored, fast food Mexican rice. The corn tortillas were also terrible. The same factory junk that you can get at Costco or Smart & Final. They should offer tortillas hecho a mano but if they won't then get some fresh ones from the nearby Vallarta Market! Horchata was just ok.

            3. There's a tasty Oaxacan place (I think it's called "Rick's Comida Oaxaquena") on Vanowen a few doors west of Van Nuys.

              1. There is a dearth of good Mexican in the Valley, which is just plain bizarre. I'm old school, so Casa Vega works for me, if I'm patient enough to brave the wait for a table.

                30 Replies
                1. re: jesstifer

                  What kind of Mexican do you mean? There's no dearth of excellent taquerias, taco tables, and marisquerias... there's no dearth of decent old-school gringo-fied sit-down combo-plate places. There's not a lot of Oaxacan, but there's not anywhere else either.

                  What kind of Mexican is missing to you? And have you looked north of Magnolia Blvd., where more Mexicans live than in Studio City?

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    You're right, I was being entirely unspecific. I'm afraid I conflated this post with the nearby one about Ernie's Taco House. While you say rightly there are "excellent" holes-in-the-wall of various sizes and shapes, you're also right that there are only "decent" old school gringo-fied places. I love both, mind you, but as an old school gringo I have a particular soft spot for old school gringo-fied. And IMHO, neither Ernie's Taco House nor La Fogata nor Las Fuentes nor Granada are a match for any of half a dozen places in the Basin.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      "What kind of Mexican do you mean? There's no dearth of excellent taquerias, taco tables, and marisquerias... "

                      Das Ubergreek, do you have a marisqueria you can recommend in the valley? Would love to check some out.

                      1. re: Sgee

                        Mmmmm... frankly, not really. The one I used to recommend, Mariscos Colima, has gone way way way downhill and the last time I ate there it all tasted vaguely muddy. It would frankly be worth the drive over to Chente for me, sadly.

                        I'm not the one to ask, though. streetgourmetla is your rey de los mariscos up there.

                        If you're willing to broaden past Mexican, incidentally, La Perla del PacĂ­fico in the back of the La Fiesta Super Mall on Sherman Way and Bellaire (closes at 8, beware) is amazingly good Colombian Pacific seafood. Start with the empanadas de camarones and the arroz de mariscos and work your way up to the encocado de piangua (ark clams in coconut sauce) and the sancocho de pescado.

                        -----
                        La Fiesta Restaurant
                        403 S D St, Perris, CA 92570

                        Marisco's
                        718 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                        1. re: Sgee

                          As Dasubergeek said, Mariscos Colima has hit rock bottom. It's gone from passable to awful.

                          There are a couple of places I've been looking at but haven't had time to get to know well enough to recommend. In the meantime, do go to La Perla Del Pacifico, a Colombian seafood gem.

                          -----
                          La Perla Del Pacifico
                          12727 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                          Marisco's
                          718 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Well, now south of Magnolia in Studio City comes the newish Loteria Grill which I finally got to last night, and I must say it was quite tasty, and definitely did not remind me of any restaurant on the boulevard from one end to the other.
                          Had a very good trio of ceviche, as well as two varieties of rellenos and a cactus salad, and a coconut flan for dessert.
                          It is upstairs in the center at Laurel Canyon and Ventura, in the former Gaucho Grill space adjacent to Louise's. Was nearly packed at 7pm.
                          Oaxacan influences, as well as the Yucatan, and other regions.

                          1. re: carter

                            Do they have their liquor license yet?

                            --Dommy!

                            1. re: Dommy

                              they've had it for a while now.

                              1. re: cdub

                                Great! When they first opened, it seemed to be a bit iffy as to when they'd get it.

                                --Dommy!

                                1. re: Dommy

                                  i went when it first opened and 2 weeks later and they already had it by then.

                        3. re: jesstifer

                          I've had decent Mexican food in the Valley... but you have to have updated expectations... after all it is the valley.

                          Valley Mexican Cuisine is to Mexican Cuisine in WLA or ELA

                          as

                          Valley Gourmet Cuisine is to WLA Gourmet Cuisine

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            i don't get it nopal.

                            who wants gourmet mexican anyway?!?!
                            rZA~

                            1. re: anthonyrza

                              What I meant is that the relationship between Valley & L.A. Mexican... is similar to the relationship between general Gourmet in the Valley & general Gourmet in L.A. that is, the Valley has decent places but its not exactly a chowhound paradise.

                              BTW... among gourmet cuisine... my favorite version is Mexican... so me, I want gourmet Mexican. Even French cuisine... I generally prefer the 19th Century Franco-Mexican cuisine you find in classic Mexico City joints than most of the Classic French cuisine I had in Paris.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                In terms of more "gourmet" Mexican, I prefer the food @ Senor Fred in Sherman Oaks to whatever its WLA equivalent would be (Border Grill perhaps?). And I've had some great Mexican seafood in the Valley, for example, enjoyed excellent grilled octapus taco @ a place on South Side of Oxnard, just east of Hazeltine (can't remember the name). WLA though is definitely the place for Oaxacan food

                                1. re: archer

                                  The standard for Gourmet Mexican in WLA would be Frida in Beverly Hills... Senor Fred doesn't even begin to compare at that level. Wait that is harsh... it does compare but its not as good.

                                  Like I said... there is good Mexican dishes in the Valley... no doubt... but you really can't compare to WLA or ELA in depth or breadth of regional cusines.... not just Oaxacan, but do you have any representation for the Yucatan or Mexico City?

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    I will have to try Frida, never been there. And I would love your recommendations for LA restaurants specializing in Yucatan or Mexican City cuisine (I don't think I even know how Mexican City food differs from other regions; love food fr: Yucatan though).

                                    1. re: archer

                                      Gardens of Taxco in West Hollywood has been representing the Mexico City Fonda's (neighborhood eateries) for almost 40 years with the traditional Comida Corridas... daily changing, Prix-Fixe, home cooking. Until the Babita & Frida's of the world showed up... this place was a lock for title of Best Mexican in L.A. http://thegardensoftaxco.com/

                                      Chichen Itza at Mercado La Paloma delivers Yucatecan specialtie s.
                                      http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        While I like Frida, I feel there are certain items on the Senor Fred menu that rival it any day, including their crab enchiladas, almost any of their specialties like lamb shank, cochinita pibil, salmon, and other non-traditional enchilada/taco/burrito fare.
                                        And you can keep Gardens of Taxco - never have gotten that place.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          nopal,
                                          I'm interested in your opinion of Yuca's version of cochinita pibil. I think the pibil burrito is very tasty there but I don't know if it's authentic yucatan because I've never eaten pibil anywhere else. I also attempted to make my own pibil (with achiote and sour orange juice) and it tasted a lot different than Yuca's. So I guess what I'm searching for is a true cochinita pibil dish, can i find this at Itza? Have I already experience this at Yuca's
                                          rZA~

                              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Gourmet Mexican is an oxymoron. There's no such thing. Surprisingly, the best, authentic burritos come off the catering trucks and the hole-in-the-wall joint. The big chain outfits make gringo style food.

                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                  "Gourmet Mexican is an oxymoron..." Really? The folks at Red O might beg to differ. And streetgourmetla might want to weigh in on places just south of the border like Laja... supposedly the French Laundry of Baja.

                                  1. re: FranklinJefferson

                                    Don't misunderstand. I love Mexican food; just not the stuff you find at El Torito or Acapulco. The food you buy from the trucks is better and more authentic. There was a place in Van Nuys called El Gato that served true Mexican food. Unfortunately, they've been gone (but never forgotten) for about 30 years now. They made a dish I've never found in another Mexican restaurant:: Lomo Adobado.

                                  2. re: mucho gordo

                                    You're talking about authentic and you're talking about burritos, which of those two do you want? Mexicans don't eat burritos except as a curiosity imported from el Norte.

                                    As for no gourmet Mexican, exactly what do you think rich people in Mexico eat? Go to Mexico City, go to Veracruz, for God's sake you can go to Tijuana and eat high-end, thoroughly Mexican food.

                                    You can still get real Mexican food, and yes, you can even get it in the Valley. Head for the lower-rent districts; you aren't going to find anything resembling Mexican-as-Mexicans-know-it on Ventura Blvd. Yes, some of it will be trucks, yes, most of it will be holes-in-the-wall. However, you can't dismiss the likes of La Huasteca and La Casita. Laja they aren't but they're still quite good, reasonably authentic Mexican food.

                                    -----
                                    La Huasteca
                                    3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                                    Mexico City
                                    2121 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      You're probably right; I'm not familiar with what constitutes 'high end' Mexican food. What could they possibly eat that is different from the delicious "low end" stuff they wrap a tortilla around? The best soft tacos in the world came from a street vendor in Mexicali. Wouldn't the high end restaurant serve the same chile verde, machaca, lengue, etc.?

                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                        No. Go look at the menu for Laja. Look at the menu for La Huasteca. See if you can find a menu online for Babita (I don't think they have a website). Look at Red O. Look at Frontera Grill. Look at Topolobampo.

                                        This is a range of things that are higher-end than street food. There are also whole categories of Mexican cuisine that are simply missing (for the most part) in LA. Where are the cenadurias? I guess La Casita is one. Where are the fondas, the "Pop's Places" of Mexico? There's hardly anywhere to get comida corrida (a set menu).

                                        -----
                                        La Huasteca
                                        3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                                    2. re: mucho gordo

                                      I agree. So where are the best taco trucks in the valley? They are certainly the best tacos in NYC. I'll be in the valley next week BTW. Gotta get taco's and burritos! Any good machaca's since Carlo's on Van Nuys Bl. closed up?

                                      1. re: johnindabronx

                                        My favorite SFV truck, thanks to streetgourmetla, is the mariscos truck that parks on Lankershim Blvd. in Sun Valley. Can't remember the name at the moment but it parks on the E side of the street between I-5 and San Fernando Rd.

                                        1. re: sel

                                          Mariscos El Tetos. One block south of San Fernando Road on Lankershim.

                                          -----
                                          Marisco's
                                          718 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                                            1. re: sel

                                              I like the chorizo and al pastor tacos from the truck that parks on Friar just west of Van Nuys Blvd (north side of the street) at night. They have great beans, too. I may have some on Weds when I am out there for a meeting! Yum!