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Informal poll: Best Mexican in the LA area

s
sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 10:46 PM

Okay everyone, I want to know your opinions on the best Mexican to be had in this town. There are no parameters on this, your choices could range from the local tiny burrito stand, to the super-authentic places on the Eastside, to the Americanized Cadillac margarita-serving joints that abound throughout the city. I'm new to the area so I've yet to form any opinion in any direction & would love the insight & expertise of my fellow 'Hounds to guide me in my journey. Thanks for your time & let the games begin!

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  1. c
    chowmominLA RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 10:53 PM

    A favorite of mine is Paco's Tacos. Their homemade tortillas are to die for.

    Pacos Tacos
    4141 S Centinela Ave (Cross Street: Washington Boulevard)
    Los Angeles, CA 90066-4908
    (310) 391-9616

    Also, you must try the chicken chili verde tamale from Gallego's Mexican Deli on Venice, a couple blocks east of Centinela.

    Gallegos Mexican Deli
    12470 Venice Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90066-3804
    (310) 391-2587

    1. k
      kirstikay RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 10:59 PM

      My vote would go to La Cabinita on Verdugo Rd. in Glendale. The homemade chips (why don't more Mexian restaurants make their own chips?) and salsa are swoon-worthy and their mole is fantastic. If its good enough for Elizabeth Taylor (her photo is on the wall with Larry Fortensky), Its good enough for the unwashed masses like us!

      2 Replies
      1. re: kirstikay
        w
        way2cook RE: kirstikay Jan 19, 2007 06:42 AM

        I cast a vote for La Cabanita as well. I especially love their Pozole, Caldo de Pollo, and the Tacos de Picadillo. They also serve handmade corn tortillas.

        1. re: way2cook
          t
          tag heuer RE: way2cook Nov 21, 2007 03:41 PM

          Another vote! La Cabanita is definitely my favorite Mexican cuisine in LA, too.

      2. Dommy RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 11:05 PM

        For me, it's all about Babitas... Hopefully we'll get a chance to go soon...

        But an honorable mention goes to Pepy's Galley in Marvista, if only for Chilaquilles which made this Mexico City Fan cry...

        --Dommy!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dommy
          s
          sunnygordy RE: Dommy Jan 17, 2007 11:21 PM

          And where might this "Babita's" be?

          1. re: sunnygordy
            j
            JimN RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 11:41 PM

            I'll cast another vote for Babita.

            1823 S San Gabriel Blvd (Cross Street: East Norwood Place)
            San Gabriel, CA 91776
            (626) 288-7265

          2. re: Dommy
            b
            broncosaurus RE: Dommy Jan 18, 2007 02:35 AM

            La Babita es muy bueno si', pero cuesta mucho tambien!

            Maybe this thread should be divided between high end and low end but Babs stands out in the former.

            1. re: Dommy
              t
              TravelPath RE: Dommy Jan 18, 2007 09:30 PM

              Please...more about the chilaquilles at Pepy's Galley...and location too?

              1. re: TravelPath
                tony michaels RE: TravelPath Jan 18, 2007 09:33 PM

                Location is inside the Mar Vista bowling alley on the north east corner of Venice Blvd. and Grandview (two short blocks east of Centinela).

                I have had them once and thought they were okay but Dommy sounds like more of an expert in this area. I think their fried polish sausage is a better bet. YMMV

                1. re: TravelPath
                  Dommy RE: TravelPath Jan 18, 2007 10:28 PM

                  They are TRUE Chilaquilles, Tortillas fried and then sauteed with sauce so they retain that crisp edge. They are then dusted with Cojita cheese!!! Have them along side their KILLER Machaca (I loved it more than Jar's famed Pot Roast Hash!) and you are in Mexican Breakfast heaven...

                  Although a Polish Sausage is great too! :)

                  --Dommy!

                  1. re: Dommy
                    The Chowhound Team RE: Dommy Nov 7, 2007 03:30 PM

                    A digression about the properties of chialquilles has been split and moved here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45836...

              2. Eat_Nopal RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 11:21 PM

                Sorry, I don't think Paco's or Gallego's belong anywhere in the Top 100... much less the BEST.

                I think if you are looking for the complete package...

                > Concept
                > "Interestingness"
                > Execution
                > Atmosphere

                Babita is the clear winner... with honorable mentions to Hound favorites like La Huasteca & La Casita in Bell.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                  c
                  chowmominLA RE: Eat_Nopal Jan 18, 2007 08:18 PM

                  Fair enough, but them please tell me where I can find a better homemade tortillas, or a better tamale than the chicken chili verde tamale from Gallego's. If you haven't tried the CCV tamale, you're not qualified to answer.

                  1. re: chowmominLA
                    Eat_Nopal RE: chowmominLA Jan 18, 2007 10:58 PM

                    5 Puntos in ELA, often has a Pork Sparerib Chile Verde tamale... that Gallego's can only begin to bow to.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal
                      Chris O RE: Eat_Nopal Jan 19, 2007 09:41 PM

                      I really believe 5 Puntos is the best Mexican food in the city, if you're not taking into account convenience or any other factor beyond the food. Other than that, I really like La Parilla for huge plates of grilled meats, El Sazon Oaxaca (or something like that) for chicken in robust red mole, El Indio Bonita for warm, comfy food (pozole and barabcoa--I've never even had a chance to try their legendary albondigas), and La Cabanita for just a nice, clean sit-down meal with margaritas and good flavor.

                      Seriously, there's so much out there that picking the "Best Mexican Food in L.A." is like picking the best square inch of Salma Hayek. The essential L.A. Mexican food experience is pulling up to a random taco truck on a hunch and finding the best al pastor you've ever tasted.

                      1. re: Chris O
                        c
                        chowmominLA RE: Chris O Feb 23, 2007 01:53 PM

                        I just tried four different tamales (beef, pork, chili verde and sweet) from 5 Puntos and I have to say that I still like Gallego's chicken chili verde tamales much, much more.

                        Also, the homemade corn tortillas tasted a little bland without anything, but I'd bet they'd be delicious with butter.

                2. n
                  Neta RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 11:36 PM

                  I have to second La Casita in Bell. I also recommend La Parilla in East Los Angeles. Badiraguato in South Gate is very good for authentic Sinaloa type food (especially their "white" menudo or their tacos of carne con papas). For particular dishes, I like Raphaels in Montebello for their delicious cocido (especially on these cold/rainy days) and also for their chile verde. For pozole, there's Mi India Bonita on Olympic in East L.A. (Saturdays only) or La Salsa Grill on Rosemead in Pico Rivera served daily.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Neta
                    tony michaels RE: Neta Jan 17, 2007 11:46 PM

                    When we are on the east side we try and make it to Teresitas Family restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The setting is clean and nondescript but the food is exceptional and the service is very friendly and good.

                    http://www.teresitasrestaurant.com/

                    1. re: tony michaels
                      David Kahn RE: tony michaels Jan 18, 2007 12:07 AM

                      Plus, very good chicken al bondigas. (Tuesdays only though, I think.)

                      1. re: David Kahn
                        tony michaels RE: David Kahn Jan 18, 2007 12:38 AM

                        I haven't been on the day Teresitas' serves it, but I love it at Mi India Bonita.

                    2. re: Neta
                      Eat_Nopal RE: Neta Jan 18, 2007 02:04 AM

                      I used to like La Parilla back in the days when it was the happening place in ELA, and Los Lobos & Paul Rodriguez were regulars. I don't its even close to cracking East L.A. Top 10 IMHO.

                    3. r
                      rjw_lgb_ca RE: sunnygordy Jan 17, 2007 11:50 PM

                      My Long Beach choices:

                      1. Enrique's (cocina jalisqueña, beautifully prepared-- humble storefront eatery, always packed at dinnertime)

                      2. Baja Sonora (just good fast-food Mexican, and I make no apologies for loving the grub here)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca
                        f
                        FED RE: rjw_lgb_ca Jan 19, 2007 05:21 PM

                        have you tried taco loco on magnolia between pch and anaheim--one of the best taco stands i've ever been to. amazing meats.

                        1. re: FED
                          r
                          rjw_lgb_ca RE: FED Jan 19, 2007 06:10 PM

                          Not yet-- I don't get to that part of LB often. But others have mentioned it favorably, so I guess a road trip is in order!

                          I actually had dinner at Enrique's last night. As wonderful as always. In fact, I treated myself to their filet mignon and garlic shrimp special. Sublime. Perfectly-prepared filet with a chipotle and mushroom gravy, huge grilled tiger shrimp with sliced garlic, Mexican rice and grilled zucchini slices (the sides sound dull, but oh they were delicious!!). Their platos fuertes all remind me of the food at the best restaurants in Guadalajara-- high-end colonial European cuisine with Mexican ingredients.

                          1. re: rjw_lgb_ca
                            t
                            Twin RE: rjw_lgb_ca Feb 23, 2007 03:14 PM

                            Enrique's is the best in Long Beach. Their Steak and cheese enchilada as well as their Pork Shank are the two best dishes I have ever had in a Mexican restaurant. There is a taco stand on 4th street one block west (towards downtown) of redondo that is fantastic for burritos as we as Al Pastor tacos and tortas. Its a little take out place. You can't miss it, there always is a line.

                      2. David Kahn RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 12:05 AM

                        My favorites for high-end Mexican "cuisine" are La Casita Mexicana (http://www.casitamex.com ) and Babita Mexicuisine (1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, (626) 288-7265).

                        For less elevated cuisine, some of my favorites are:

                        Mi India Bonita (4731 E. Olympic Blvd., (323) 267-8505), for their home-style dishes and their wonderful al bondigas in particular.

                        Tacos Baja Ensenada (5385 Whittier Blvd., (323) 887-1980) for their absolutely amazing fish and shrimp tacos, ceviche, etc.

                        El Parian (1528 W Pico Blvd., (213) 386-7361) for the best carne asada burritos I've found. (Good birria too.

                        )

                        Tere's Mexican Grill (5870 Melrose, (323) 468-9345). Excellent chili relleno burritos, the best chips in town (made from homemade tortillas), and great fideo (vegetable soup with chicken).

                        El Tepeyac (812 N Evergreen Ave., (323) 267-8668) for superb taquitos, monstrous stewed chicken burritos, and great East LA atmosphere.

                        Taqueria Vista Hermosa, and Chichen Itza, both in the Mercado La Paloma (http://www.mercadolapaloma.com/restau... ). TVH has my favorite al pastor tacos, and pretty much everything at Chichen Itza is good, including, in particular, their cochinita pibil (straight up or in a torta).

                        And, finally, of course, Ana Maria's in the downtown Grand Central Market (http://www.grandcentralsquare.com/ ), for the hugest, most sublime carnitas burrito ever. (Seriously, how can something so big and so good cost only $4?!) Kick ass gorditas too.

                        Lastly, we ought to get someone more knowledgeable than me to post a good listing of the various taco trucks, because, when it's good, Mexican street food is awesome.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: David Kahn
                          n
                          Norm Man RE: David Kahn Jan 18, 2007 10:02 PM

                          David Kahn, great comprehensive list. You covered all the bases.

                          1. re: David Kahn
                            c
                            cjla RE: David Kahn Jan 20, 2007 12:16 AM

                            If you're new to the city, Grand Central Market can be a revelation. I love it, and try to get tacos from a bunch of different vendors and do a compare/contrast. Also I hear good things about a tamale place on 8th and Alvarado(across from Langer's)

                            1. re: cjla
                              David Kahn RE: cjla Jan 20, 2007 12:49 AM

                              I think the tamale place you're thinking of is called Mama's Hot Tamales (2124 W. 7th St., (213) 487-7474). They have lots of different types of tamales in the style of various places in Mexico and Central and South America. I think they also function as a small business incubator to try to help people get their businesses started. Noble, and interesting, with lots of variety, and I know several folks whose taste I respect really like it, but I have to say, I've never had a tamale at Mama's that I think comes close to the plain old pork tamales at La Indiana (1142 S Indiana St., (323) 262-4682) which is far and away my favorite tamale place in LA.

                            2. re: David Kahn
                              a
                              aflores RE: David Kahn Jul 26, 2007 10:19 AM

                              I too love Babita's the best mexican cuisine by far!

                              There's another place I like to go to in the area, it's more so Oaxacan though. They make lobster enchiladas that are awesome, and a margarita that really will knock you on your ass!

                              Tlapazola Grill
                              11676 Gateway Blvd.
                              (Barrington Ave.)
                              West LA, CA 90064
                              310-477-1577

                              I know of a really good fast food mexican place in the area, right next to the strip club! They make homemade tortillas. I have yet to try their fancier plates such as shrimp a diablo however they're Birria (Goat in a red chile sauce) us pretty good!
                              http://www.ta-comiendo.com/index.htm

                              As far as taco trucks I haven't come across any good ones in the area. There are two really good ones in eagle rock off of eagle rock blvd, right before york blvd. Ramboo's has really good carne asada and Leo's has really good carnitas and al pastor. I don't think they're out there til about7-8 though.

                              1. re: aflores
                                j
                                jimmyodonnell RE: aflores Nov 17, 2007 01:35 PM

                                There's a good truck on the south side of Venice Blvd at Cattaragus, which is west of LaCienega (bet LaC & Robertson) . . . nights only, I don't know where it goes during the day.

                              2. re: David Kahn
                                m
                                magpie78 RE: David Kahn Nov 18, 2007 11:41 PM

                                Hi
                                I know I'm replying to a post from 11 months ago, so here goes

                                I'll be visiting from Australia, early January, staying at the Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd. Can some one direct me to the best mexican near the Roosevelt or can some one tell if any of these listed by David Kahn are nearby? or at least a 15 minute taxi ride?

                                Thanks I appreciate your replies

                                cheers

                                1. re: magpie78
                                  Servorg RE: magpie78 Nov 19, 2007 03:38 AM

                                  The closest to your hotel (about 2 miles) of David's most excellent list is: "Tere's Mexican Grill (5870 Melrose, (323) 468-9345). Excellent chili relleno burritos, the best chips in town (made from homemade tortillas), and great fideo (vegetable soup with chicken)."

                                  One other place which is also very good, but not on David's list, is:
                                  http://www.chichenitzarestaurant.com/ and which is about 6.5 miles from you hotel - or about 15 minutes if you aren't trying to go in the midst of work week rush hour traffic.

                                  If you use google mapping you will find your way around LA with very accurate directions for the most part.

                                  I hope you find American's as friendly and helpful to you as I found Australian's during my visits down under.

                                  1. re: Servorg
                                    m
                                    magpie78 RE: Servorg Nov 19, 2007 05:34 PM

                                    Thnaks
                                    I'll let you know my thoughts when after i try some of these places.

                                    I always find Americans friendy, helpful & nice.

                                    this is about my 6th trip, i love the place

                                    second time with the family, the kids (16, 14 & 12) also love L.A

                                    cheers

                                    1. re: magpie78
                                      Servorg RE: magpie78 Nov 19, 2007 05:43 PM

                                      I look forward to reading your report. One other thing while I am thinking of it. Do some write ups of your favorite local places and post them to the proper international board. CH can always use more good local reports from Oz.

                                2. re: David Kahn
                                  j
                                  Julinla RE: David Kahn Jun 9, 2008 12:38 AM

                                  I know this post is old but when it comes to awesome mexi food the talk just doesn't stop!! I had to thank all of you for the recs of all these awesome mexi food restaurants. I found chowhound by accident in early '08 and I'm so glad I did! Thank you all for the great recs--my boyfriend and I love La Casita in Bell. I can't wait to try some of the other places listed here and post my opinion. My fave food is Mexican and there are a ton of places here to try. I have also visited the oft-mentioned Enrique's in Blf and in LB and the tacos are my fave there. Thanx again fellow foodies!!!

                                3. k
                                  ks in la RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 12:17 AM

                                  I love polls like this since I get to hear about so many people's favorites of my favorite kind of food! My list is already growing....

                                  I'm one of the legion who love La Casita Mexicana in Bell most of all. I also would like to revisit Babita, one visit wasn't enough to give it its due. I have a total soft spot for places like Ciro's on Evergreen since that personifies the Mexican food I grew up eating. Since I live on the westside, I keep trying Oaxacan place after Oaxacan place - I wish I had a foolproof favorite at the moment, but I don't.

                                  On the faster side of things I like King Torta on Valley Blvd, Tacomiendo in West LA, and Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA. I hear my favorite taco truck for cemitas is no longer hanging out on Venice near the 405 which makes me sad. If only that Smart & Final truck were around at night...

                                  Finally, I'm pretty excited about Chichen Itza on 6th St. I had lunch there this weekend - it was way more formal than I expected (a valet station on MacArthur Park??), but I really loved what I ate and there are many, many unfamiliar dishes on that menu I'm ready to try. Excellent to have a full scale Yucatecan restaurant so close.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: ks in la
                                    David Kahn RE: ks in la Jan 18, 2007 12:19 AM

                                    That avocado salsa at Ciro's is pretty damn good.

                                    1. re: ks in la
                                      t
                                      tuckychica RE: ks in la Jan 19, 2007 07:06 PM

                                      King Torta is fabulous. It's close to work, so my co-workers got take-out from there for my Birthday. The tortas carnitas was really fabulous, and so big I had to use a fork! Cheap prices too.

                                      1. re: tuckychica
                                        i
                                        iknowfood64 RE: tuckychica Aug 9, 2007 08:32 PM

                                        King Torta is delicious, great tortas and burritos.

                                    2. o
                                      oro3030 RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 12:20 AM

                                      Not really in any well thought out order.
                                      1.La Casita Mexicana in Bell (Puebla state)
                                      2.Huarache Azteca in Highland Park (D.F. and Morelos state)
                                      3.Chichen Itza (Yucatan)
                                      4.El Metate in Highland Park (Michoacan state)
                                      5.Gueleguetza in Koreatown (Oaxaca state)
                                      6.Tonny's in Pasadena(Cenaduria style)
                                      7.La Parilla at several locations (braseros and parilladas)
                                      8.Antojitos Guerrero in Highland Park (Guerrero state)

                                      Too many taco trucks to name but I love El Pique for al pastor and the Tacos Sinaloa truck for Vampiros and Charreadas both in Highland Park.

                                      1. martyR RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 01:55 AM

                                        Babita and it's not even close.

                                        I had the Chiles en Nogada a week ago. Sublime as always.

                                        1. k
                                          kproq323 RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 02:47 AM

                                          For fast casual fare I love Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica (Olympic & 14th)
                                          For more elegant regional fare - defintely La Serenata on Pico in West LA. I always get the grilled fish with the spinach sauce.
                                          Mexico City is pretty good on Hillhurst.
                                          Love the Pozole at Teres on Melrose.
                                          There's also a hole in the wall tacqueria on the corner of Bundy and Venice.
                                          Still looking for a great Oaxacan place with killer Mole.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: kproq323
                                            b
                                            bcrall RE: kproq323 Jan 21, 2007 01:30 PM

                                            What corner of Bundy & Venice? I assume you mean Centinela & Venice since Bundy changes names at the Santa Monica Airport.

                                            Nonetheless, which corner do you mean? I live a few blocks from there and can't recall seeing a taqueria around there.

                                            1. re: bcrall
                                              Mattapoisett in LA RE: bcrall Jan 22, 2007 03:41 PM

                                              I think the place in question is El Mason del Taco on the north side of Venice Bl. east of Centinela. Dommy and I like it but I can't find her review on the board to link to. The only other option in that immediate area is Gallegos but they don't really do tacos.

                                              1. re: Mattapoisett in LA
                                                c
                                                chowmominLA RE: Mattapoisett in LA Jan 22, 2007 05:04 PM

                                                Could you be thinking of Tito's Taco's on Washington and Sepulveda?

                                                1. re: Mattapoisett in LA
                                                  n
                                                  Norm Man RE: Mattapoisett in LA Jan 22, 2007 11:53 PM

                                                  FYI, El Meson del Taco is on the south (NOT north) side of Venice Blvd and east of Centinela. Following is the link to Dommy's review of El Meson del Taco:

                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/73215

                                                  I believe another taqueria is opening on Venice Blvd, a few blocks east of Centinela -- it's a taqueria moving from another location. Another Chowhound said their other location was good and was looking forward to the opening.

                                            2. Das Ubergeek RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 04:19 AM

                                              Sigh... this is like asking what the best Italian is in New Jersey. Nevertheless, I shall persevere!

                                              Fish tacos: it's a tie between Tacos Baja Ensenada (East LA), Senor Fish (various outposts) and El Taco Nazo (various outposts).

                                              Mariscos: the Boyle Heights branch of La Serenata de Garibaldi (but NOT the Westside branches), or Mariscos Colima on Vanowen in NoHo.

                                              Combo plate: Might be Tia Juana's on Olympic Blvd. in WLA, because Tequilas dropped so badly.

                                              Tacos: El Taco Llama (Bakman/Magnolia branch in NoHo only)

                                              Tortas: Tortas Mexico (La Crescenta and Studio City)

                                              Slightly higher-end: La Cabanita in north Glendale. Fantastic food, though I hate the chips, they're often fried in oil that is too cold. When they're "on", though, the chips are excellent and they'll give you mole sauce to dip them into.

                                              High-end: Babita in San Gabriel. No questions asked.

                                              1. ipsedixit RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 08:25 PM

                                                The poll should start and end with BABITA.

                                                No question about it.

                                                1. t
                                                  TravelPath RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 09:30 PM

                                                  Babita...no question!

                                                  1. c
                                                    calabasas_trafalgar RE: sunnygordy Jan 18, 2007 11:14 PM

                                                    La Paz in Calabasas
                                                    Rudy's in Monrovia

                                                    1. m
                                                      mjalz RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 02:34 AM

                                                      Don Robertos magical restaurant - BABITAS. It's so good that I cannot eat a #5 enchilada / taco combo anymore. He is the gourmet master in his venue. He also makes regional mexican dishes that SoCal people do not often have a chance to eat.
                                                      #1 by a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                      1. p
                                                        Poyma RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 04:02 AM

                                                        What about Mama's Tamales downtown on 7th? Or Guelaguetza?

                                                        1. p
                                                          Poyma RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 04:03 AM

                                                          And Dino's legendary "Pollo Maniaco" with delicious fies soaked in spicy juice--on Pico near C and K.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Poyma
                                                            b
                                                            broncosaurus RE: Poyma Jan 24, 2007 03:25 AM

                                                            Except the only things involving Mexico and this dish are the guys who prepare it. And perhaps, the frijoles and arroz you get in the second most popular version (sans fries, not recommended by me at least but still a good deal).

                                                          2. c
                                                            chrisheadrick RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 04:19 AM

                                                            Kudos to oro3030 for breaking down the food by region--you are a true gastronome! Fantastic.

                                                            Any true fan of Mexican, Italian or Chinese food always responds "what region?" when asked where the best in town is. They also ask a few quick questions to determine if someone is actually interested in the American versions of these cuisines, which are very enjoyable in their own right.

                                                            My two cents will be about Guelaguetza: Oaxaca is the cuisine of moles, and I believe there are seven to choose from at this place. They have a sampler platter in the appetizer section that will give you a taste of all the different cheeses, meats and veggies, along with four(?) of the moles...the platter is huge, and becomes a feast of various tastes...definitely a meal in itself for two people. When I first went and inquired about the moles, the waiter pointed out an additional dish that would let me taste the remaining three. Find your favorite of the sauces, then zero in on it on your next trip. What a great introduction to Oaxacan cuisine!

                                                            La Cabanita (in Montrose, actually) is cute and fun: the Caldo de Pollo tastes like your Mom made it for you to help you get over a cold. In fact, when you have a little cold, treat yourself to a big bowl there...it's like wrapping up in a comforter.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: chrisheadrick
                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: chrisheadrick Jan 19, 2007 04:31 PM

                                                              La Cabanita bills itself as a chilango restaurant -- I've never been to Mexico City (except through the airport on the way further south in Mexico) so I can't say.

                                                            2. Mr Taster RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 07:16 AM

                                                              No discussion on the best Mexican food in LA would be complete without a plug for the taco table on the east side of Vermont between Pico and Venice. It's al pastor bliss.

                                                              They're rediculously delicious. Nothing else I've had in LA comes close.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                Dommy RE: Mr Taster Jan 19, 2007 04:55 PM

                                                                Actually, one place does... I found it on Central and Adams... Hopefully I'll get to write a report about it today!! Not only is it Fire Al Pastor with Pina y Cebolla, but it's FRESH home made tortillas...

                                                                --Dommy!

                                                                1. re: Dommy
                                                                  Dommy RE: Dommy Jan 19, 2007 07:11 PM

                                                                  Okay... here's the post... Presenting - Taqueria La Fogata

                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/362022

                                                                  --Dommy!

                                                                  1. re: Dommy
                                                                    Mr Taster RE: Dommy Jan 20, 2007 05:33 AM

                                                                    Just got back from Taqueria La Fogata. 3 of us ordered:

                                                                    3 al pastor
                                                                    1 pollo
                                                                    3 chorizo
                                                                    2 french fries

                                                                    Al pastor: Good... pineapple slice a nice touch. The stewed onion bin was sadly empty and despite calls by the grillmaster to the staff to refill, it never happened. Made the mistake of putting too much of the spicy dark red sauce on top and it dwarfed the flavor. Next one was garnished only with a little chopped onion, cilanto and a squidge of lime. Much better! However.... it did not have the ultra succulence of those gems at the taco table on Vermont between Pico and Venice.

                                                                    Chicken taco-- dry, chewy and bland.

                                                                    Chorizo taco-- FANTASTIC. Super flavor that busted your tastebuds wide open. Barely needed embellishment but I added a tiny bit of onion, cilantro and radish... just enough to emphasize the flavor and add texture, but not enough to dwarf the lovely succulent chorizoness of the thing. Clear winner!

                                                                    French fries-- huge plate, nice and crispy, salted well, great value at about $1.50 I think.

                                                                    Great find... but for the chorizo, not the al pastor I'm afraid!!

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                      b
                                                                      broncosaurus RE: Mr Taster Jan 28, 2007 05:47 PM

                                                                      I visited La Fogata the other day and ordered 1 pollo taco, 1 al pastor, 1 milanesa torta, and sides of rice and beans. The tacos at $1.15 are a true bargain, since they're around 25% bigger than your typical taco table offering. The al pastor was the best I remember, the pollo average. The milanesa torta was just okay, as were the sides. Decent salsa selection as described by Dommy. Next up for me will be the chorizo taco and fries as described by El Tastor (hmmm, I wonder what a chorizo torta would be like?). Overall a nice find, they're open till 11 on Fri/Sat and 10:30 the rest of the week. Doors open at 9am.

                                                                      1. re: broncosaurus
                                                                        JAB RE: broncosaurus Jan 28, 2007 08:05 PM

                                                                        I went 1 day last week for lunch and ordered an al pastor burrito and a carne asada torta. The al pastor was flavorless. The carne asada torta was fine but, not better than what I can get at Thomas in the Grand Central Market. I also found it strange that they didn't have carnitas on the menu.

                                                                        1. re: broncosaurus
                                                                          b
                                                                          bulavinaka RE: broncosaurus Feb 24, 2007 06:29 AM

                                                                          Had a chorizo torta at Taqueria Sanchez about a month ago... was really chorizo-y! They don't pull back on the amount of chorizo, and with the guac, lettuce, and frijoles, it was my cholesterol bomb of the month - and they do brown the bolito on the grill. Had a torta with al pastor yesterday... it was like a leaner version of the chorizo - lots of spice and flavor but no reddish orange oil dripping down my chin... Don't know if that helps...

                                                                  2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                    m
                                                                    mdpilam RE: Mr Taster Mar 16, 2008 07:22 PM

                                                                    I went to a taco table (which I'm not sure is the same one) on Vermont about a block or so north of the 10 (on the east side, just up from a restaurant called San Salvador), and was extremely disappointed. The al pastor was ok, but the asada was borderline bad, and meat and tortillas were cold in spots.

                                                                    Did I miss the good spot?

                                                                    I think I'll stick to El Chato for fabulous tacos.

                                                                  3. e
                                                                    EREDSON RE: sunnygordy Jan 19, 2007 06:16 PM

                                                                    Have any of you eaten at Frontera Grill in Chicago? Are there any Mexican restaurants in LA that serve that style of fancified, regional nu-mexico city style cuisine?

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: EREDSON
                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: EREDSON Jan 19, 2007 06:21 PM

                                                                      Border Grill. Two of them -- 4th St. Santa Monica, and Paseo Colorado. Not as good as Frontera Grill, and more "southwestern" than chilango.

                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                        j
                                                                        JimN RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 20, 2007 04:46 AM

                                                                        The Pasadena (Paseo Colorado) Border Grill location closed down a long time ago. The Santa Monica location is still very alive and kicking.

                                                                        1. re: JimN
                                                                          Das Ubergeek RE: JimN Jan 20, 2007 03:24 PM

                                                                          Ah, quel dommage... not. Thanks for the update -- what's replaced it since?

                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                            j
                                                                            JimN RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 25, 2007 01:28 PM

                                                                            Yeah, not really a big loss. I haven't been to Paseo Colorado for quite some time, but I think the space is still vacant. Per the current directory here:

                                                                            http://www.paseocoloradopasadena.com/...

                                                                            I think Border Grill was in space #203. The merchant list doesn't show an entry for that space.

                                                                      2. re: EREDSON
                                                                        r
                                                                        rjw_lgb_ca RE: EREDSON Jan 19, 2007 06:26 PM

                                                                        Border Grill in Santa Monica is similar in feel, although it's several dozen decibels noisier. Still, it's Mexican cuisine filtered through güera cooks (and Rick Bayless is nothing if not the güero's güero-- but a lover of Mexican food).

                                                                        I must admit I hit Topolobampo on my last trip to Chicago, and I was really disappointed. The ingredients were there, it all looked like Mexican food, but the tastes didn't register. Nothing I had made me want to order it again the next day. Or ever again. I liked Frontera Grill when I went there years ago, but this was weirdly off. Like Pod People's version of Mexican food. The Scene was hopping, but the food wasn't popping. No chispa. No authentic sazón.

                                                                        1. re: rjw_lgb_ca
                                                                          Dommy RE: rjw_lgb_ca Jan 19, 2007 06:35 PM

                                                                          Yeah, that is the thing SO said when he visited his restaurants in Chicago... It was lacking real SOUL...

                                                                          Other restaurants that have the same 'feel' are Babita, La Huasteca, La Seranta and the new Malverde, which actually was opened by a Bayless Alum...

                                                                          --Dommy!

                                                                          1. re: Dommy
                                                                            r
                                                                            rjw_lgb_ca RE: Dommy Jan 19, 2007 06:45 PM

                                                                            Agreed. I have to get to Babita, obviously, since it has such a big fan base here on Chowhound. But looking back on your recos, I'm now thinking I need to check out the chilaquiles at Pepy's-- gawd, I haven't been anywhere NEAR there in years (well, since I lived in MV)!!

                                                                            But right now I'm jonesing to have that filet mignon I had last night at Enrique's. It fits Nigella Lawson's definition of great food: something you eat that you immediately crave again.

                                                                            1. re: rjw_lgb_ca
                                                                              tony michaels RE: rjw_lgb_ca Jan 19, 2007 06:52 PM

                                                                              One other thing that Pepy's Galley has that is wonderful is their house made salsa. They have two types, the one that looks like a regular red salsa fresca is the one that is absolutely addictive in all its garlicy goodness. I keep meaning to come with a container and have them fill it for me for whatever price they want to charge. The other salsa is darker in color and not nearly as good. I would probably go home and start eating it with a tablespoon.

                                                                        2. re: EREDSON
                                                                          Eat_Nopal RE: EREDSON Jan 24, 2007 02:16 AM

                                                                          I've eaten at Topolobampo which is the more upscale brother of Frontera.... Babita (with lots of support among us of Mexican ancestry).... is comparable to Topolobambo... but much better execution. Not as good, but you will find a similar type of culinary offering at Frida.

                                                                          From what I saw at Frontera Grill (passing on my to seat inside Topo).... Border Grill is the closest.... I don't agree on the Southwestern influences... I don't see it. Its really just traditional Mexican cuisine, with a few Too Hot Tamales' personal touches and entrees that are really dumbed down for the Non-Chowish masses that tend to eat in the dining room.

                                                                          Sticking to the Apps at the Bar... is certainly somewhat reminicent of the newer Cantinas popular among Mexico City's Fresas (yuppies).

                                                                        3. m
                                                                          mjalz RE: sunnygordy Jan 20, 2007 05:29 AM

                                                                          It's a Friday night and I get home from work and log on the net and start cruising. I find my way to chowhound and read the latest and greatest on the food scene. I went to this topic where I put my two sense in a couple of days ago, and did a rave revue of Babitas. So my wife says, "Hey, if there's not ot much traffic, lets go to Babitas for a super mex dinner. We go. The drive from Encino to San Gabriel was done in fairly good time. Babitas was less than half full and we order. It went down hill from there. Attitude, food taste issues, a corkage issue, then an "off the menu special" issue. A check which was a total rip. And a, "I'm never coming back here" from my wife. All and all a very bad experience. We should have gone to Tony's Taco on Coldwater and Victory. Instead of $180.00 (with tip) it would have been $35.00. You can only stab a person like this once. NEVER TWICE! NEVER TWICE!

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mjalz
                                                                            Das Ubergeek RE: mjalz Jan 20, 2007 03:26 PM

                                                                            Um, what's Tony's Taco? I live at Coldwater and Victory -- do you mean Carnitas Michoacan? If so, you'd have been hard-pressed to spend even $35 there, given that they don't serve wine.

                                                                            As for Babita -- wow, that's the first negative report I've ever heard. I assume you said something when you were getting ready to leave?

                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                              m
                                                                              mjalz RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 22, 2007 12:06 AM

                                                                              My kids call it Tony's Taco. It's in a strip mall on Coldwater Canyon on the west side of the street at Victory (I think). And your correct. $35.00 is a strech. As for saying something at Babitas, I let my TIP do the talking.

                                                                              1. re: mjalz
                                                                                Das Ubergeek RE: mjalz Jan 22, 2007 03:12 AM

                                                                                Ah, yeah, that's Carnitas Michoacan. I love that place. As for the tip, you realise the message you sent was not "you suck as a waiter" but "I'm a damn cheapskate", right? Er, at least that's how it was probably received.

                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  carter RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 22, 2007 03:25 AM

                                                                                  Sure he might not be thinking of Tony's on Coldwater at Magnolia, as in on the SW corner in a mini-mall across from Ralphs?

                                                                                  1. re: carter
                                                                                    Das Ubergeek RE: carter Jan 22, 2007 02:31 PM

                                                                                    Oh, that too. I like that place. Except the parking. There's no parking, and with all the construction you can't park at Ralphs and walk over, either.

                                                                            2. re: mjalz
                                                                              s
                                                                              sassille RE: mjalz Jan 23, 2007 12:42 PM

                                                                              Okay, you are not crazy, my family had a similar sad, bad experience at Babita. First, they need to get valet parking. There is not one inch of space on the property. It was a birthday and there were two children in their party of 7. It took 20 minutes for the waitress to come and take the order. And an hour (swear to god) to have the food served. By the time it finally came around the adults were cranky (not the kids because they had snack-bags). The food was fine but portions were minimal and by then things went downhill. One would think that with reservations, on a Friday night, they would have had more help. This restaurant may be highly-rated for the chef, but the total experience is not worth the aggravation.
                                                                              La Casita gets my vote for food and service.
                                                                              Honorable mentions go to
                                                                              La Huasteca (not Pasadena)
                                                                              La Cabanita
                                                                              Mi India Bonita
                                                                              Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                                                              Taqueria Sanchez

                                                                              1. re: sassille
                                                                                m
                                                                                mjalz RE: sassille Jan 28, 2007 09:09 PM

                                                                                Then I wasn't crazy that "Bad" night at Babitas"! Thanks for sharing your comment.

                                                                                1. re: sassille
                                                                                  Eat_Nopal RE: sassille Jan 29, 2007 06:46 AM

                                                                                  Its not a perfect operation... but for every two bad nights, there seems to be 98 great ones... thats not bad in city like L.A. where there is a lack of consistently, perfect dining experiences (service & ambiance related). This is a city with lots of employee turnover, Midwesterners wanting to be stars, and immigrants barely learning the language & the trade... on some level it is a minor miracle that L.A. has decent restaurants at all.

                                                                                  1. re: sassille
                                                                                    a
                                                                                    aflores RE: sassille Jul 26, 2007 10:38 AM

                                                                                    If valet is your complaint then maybe you should be eating at a restraunt in Hollywood.
                                                                                    Babita's generally not a place to take children. It's very tiny and the food may take long because there's one waitress and one chef.
                                                                                    I've been there in groups of nine and didn't have a problem because we know it's well worth the wait. Plus they have awesome appitizers like the gueritos rellenos, yellow chile stuffed with ceviche with a strawberry glaze.
                                                                                    I don't know how you could say that place was "fine"....
                                                                                    To me that place is well worth the wait and I'm happy it's such a small place because it's likely going to be there for a long time!

                                                                                    1. re: aflores
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      sassille RE: aflores Jul 26, 2007 11:12 AM

                                                                                      Valet parking isn't the problem so much as the fact that there is NO customer parking on the premises, period. Sure I will go back, because my dining friends like the place. But I'm not going to initiate taking a group there and have them experience poor service while they wait for good food. Its a matter of personal preference.
                                                                                      As a side note, the last time I was there, the chef came out to greet us after dinner. He told us about his wine dinners and made it a point to say we could NOT attend because its only for special customers. I mention this because I don't think he realized he was implying that new customers are not important to him. He's a great chef, but not such a great restauranteur. I often host dining events and this is the only place (with very good food), that didn’t make me feel welcome.
                                                                                      Cecilia

                                                                                2. wizardx RE: sunnygordy Jan 20, 2007 05:38 AM

                                                                                  looks like I have to make a trek out to Babitas!!

                                                                                  Here in the Valley DOS Arbolitos stands out as one of the best, they dont have a full bar but they do serve beer, very authentic , very good pozole ...

                                                                                  9034 Woodley Ave
                                                                                  North Hills, CA 91343
                                                                                  (818) 891-6661

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: wizardx
                                                                                    c
                                                                                    carter RE: wizardx Jan 20, 2007 04:14 PM

                                                                                    Do you like Arbolitos better than Carrillo's Deli on Sherman Way(corner Corbin) in the Smart & Final center? That is my valley benchmark, and a place where you can find me traveling out of my way to get to.

                                                                                    1. re: carter
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      sel RE: carter Jan 20, 2007 04:38 PM

                                                                                      I like both, well the Corrillo's Deli in the CH often ignored hood of San Fernando not the Canoga Park store. I much prefer Dos Arbolitos for their more complex and sauced meats, their Costillas simmered in a smokey salsa roja are wondeful! Good, not great Horchata and bottled Mexican beers available.

                                                                                      1. re: carter
                                                                                        wizardx RE: carter Jan 22, 2007 06:32 AM

                                                                                        I will let you know this week....

                                                                                    2. lvgoodfood RE: sunnygordy Jan 20, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                                                      I like La Parrilla, east Los Angeles. I also like 'La Super Rica in Santa Barbara. I have to try many of the ones recommended here.

                                                                                      I am really hungry now!!

                                                                                      1. tastyjon RE: sunnygordy Jan 22, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                                                        I moved out of LA a few years ago, so forgive me if names or locations escape me... but:

                                                                                        - The car wash next to the hotel Fig and Staples center. Not the best in all of LA, but the best if you worked in that part of downtown. Half the patrons walk there, even though it's a little taco shop inside a car wash.

                                                                                        - The little old lady who runs/ran the portable taco grill in the little Mexican grocery near Motor & Palms. You pretended to understand what you were ordering. She pretended to understand what you wanted. But you got whatever pile of chicken/beef/pork she happened to be chopping up. It was all good.

                                                                                        - Holy Guacamole for before/after drinking excursions along Main St. in Santa Monica.

                                                                                        - The taco truck near Rose & Pacific in Venice.

                                                                                        - The guy selling bacon wrapped mexican hot dogs outside Crazy Guidions in downtown LA.

                                                                                        I have a few other places on the tip of my tongue, plus a list of standard $7.99 combo meal places... but the informal street food places jumped to mind.

                                                                                        1. r
                                                                                          roberto90071 RE: sunnygordy Jan 22, 2007 07:15 PM

                                                                                          I would put in my vote for La Serenata de Garibaldi
                                                                                          1842 E 1st St in Boyle Heights. Great service and excellent seafood dishes. A nice touch is the mixture of tortilla chips and quesadillas they put out when you sit down.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: roberto90071
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                                                                                            flickhead RE: roberto90071 Nov 17, 2007 12:22 PM

                                                                                            Their sister location on Pico, just west of the Westside Pavillion, is also great. The service is generally excellent, and everything I've eaten there has been incredible. Their table salsa (which is more of a pepper paste than a salsa per se) is one of my three favorites alongside Chicket Itza on 6th and Monte Alban on Santa Monica & Brockton. The pork dishes are generally my favorites here.

                                                                                          2. d
                                                                                            dallasdrew RE: sunnygordy Jan 25, 2007 01:48 PM

                                                                                            Tito's Tacos on Washington and Sepulveda or El Terasco in El Segundo.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: dallasdrew
                                                                                              Das Ubergeek RE: dallasdrew Jan 29, 2007 06:44 AM

                                                                                              I don't think I'd nominate Tito's for anything except Longest Line For Tacos. I just don't get it. They're just OK, but people line up like the food was impregnated with crack or something.

                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                                                                c
                                                                                                chowchi1 RE: Das Ubergeek Feb 23, 2007 02:17 PM

                                                                                                I'm with you on Tito's. I never have understood the attention given to this psuedo-Mexican place. It is so average especially given there are many authentic places nearby. Avoid it -- it is'nt worth the hype.

                                                                                                1. re: chowchi1
                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                  jbl123 RE: chowchi1 Feb 24, 2007 05:42 PM

                                                                                                  ditto -overrated-

                                                                                                  1. re: chowchi1
                                                                                                    g
                                                                                                    GuidoTKP RE: chowchi1 Jul 26, 2007 06:07 PM

                                                                                                    I recently moved into the neighborhood and had seen the lines at Tito's every time I drove by, so I figured I had to try it out. *blech* Man, I so don't get the popularity of this place. I was thinking it might be a Henry's Tacos experience (i.e., Taco Bell style Mexican food done w/ better ingredients), but it's just bland, bland, bland.

                                                                                              2. g
                                                                                                gabehoya RE: sunnygordy Jan 25, 2007 04:13 PM

                                                                                                Ahh man there are so many good Mexican places in the Southland-this thread is gonna make my head explode (in the best possible way).

                                                                                                I also love Guelaguetza in LA.

                                                                                                In Orange County, I highly recommend:

                                                                                                - Tacos Jalisco (Tustin Ave. Orange). This place is a total sleeper and very cheap.

                                                                                                -El Camino Real (Fullerton) The last time I went there I saw Kobe Bryant and his Mexican American wife. Excellent food.

                                                                                                -Taco Mesa It's a small chain but the food is always surprisingly good. It's on par with the food that they serve at resorts in Cancun and Acapulco in a casual fast food atmosphere. I usually go for their whiteboard (daily) specials as they tend to be a little more creative.

                                                                                                -Taco truck behind Pep Boys (Main St./1st Santa Ana) There's often a line but it's worth it.

                                                                                                1. k
                                                                                                  Kaisgraham RE: sunnygordy Jan 29, 2007 06:47 AM

                                                                                                  El Tepeyac on Evergreen in East LA. We've been going there for over 35 years and it remains consistently good. Great taquitos; try the Hollenbeck burritio. It will not disappoint. El Tepeyac was mentioned in Joseph Wambaugh's book The Onion Field. We also love the taquitos at the Olvera Street stands.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Kaisgraham
                                                                                                    David Kahn RE: Kaisgraham Jan 29, 2007 12:45 PM

                                                                                                    The taquitos at El Tepeyac are really good.

                                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                                    AdamFoodie RE: sunnygordy Feb 23, 2007 09:11 AM

                                                                                                    wow, not one mention of Joseiltos

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: AdamFoodie
                                                                                                      Das Ubergeek RE: AdamFoodie Mar 9, 2008 05:57 PM

                                                                                                      Is that the greasy Mexican deli in Montrose? Just not into it.

                                                                                                    2. f
                                                                                                      fooddude37 RE: sunnygordy Feb 23, 2007 02:39 PM

                                                                                                      I didn't see Monte Alban mentioned yet (though I just skimmed). Only went there once but the barbacoa was excellent, as was the guacamole (though on the salty side) on Santa Monica. The Oaxacan guys I work with all eat there.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: fooddude37
                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                        ozhead RE: fooddude37 Jul 26, 2007 02:12 PM

                                                                                                        Second Monte Alban. It's terrific for lunch -- partly because it's only 5 minutes from where I work, but mostly because all of the dishes on the menu (EXCEPT the few fish dishes and the "Volcan Oaxaquena") are $6.99. I find it hard to order anything but the barbacoa de chiva -- a delicious chunk of braised, tender goat in a dense and flavorful broth -- but everything I've had there has been terrific.

                                                                                                        1. re: ozhead
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                                                                                                          flickhead RE: ozhead Nov 17, 2007 12:26 PM

                                                                                                          The Colorodita is fantastic, and I find that I tend to order the Chicken Mamelas most, though the Consome Ranchero soup has become one of my favorite dishes. They make a damn good mole. Another great mole can be found at El Texate on Pico @ 4th.

                                                                                                      2. a
                                                                                                        anothernotch RE: sunnygordy Feb 23, 2007 03:29 PM

                                                                                                        Many good suggestions here but I'm always partial to the Super Mule, albondigas soup and chicken tacos at Gilbert's on Pico.

                                                                                                        1. t
                                                                                                          Twin RE: sunnygordy Feb 23, 2007 03:58 PM

                                                                                                          Enrique's in Long Beach on PCH and Lyon's. 1) Pork Shank on rice w/cilantro cream sauce.
                                                                                                          2) Steak w/cheese enchilada. it sounds pretty standard but trust me, they marinade the steak in some type of citrus or something and it is the best!

                                                                                                          1. h
                                                                                                            hello12345 RE: sunnygordy Oct 11, 2007 12:29 AM

                                                                                                            KING TACO & EL TAURINO!
                                                                                                            sopes, tacos, burritos and they're red sauce is THE BEST and it's all prettty cheap!
                                                                                                            I crave this place every week...
                                                                                                            There's King Taco everywhere in Downtown LA and one in Old Pas on Union.
                                                                                                            And El Taurino is near K-Town on beverly and olympic i think
                                                                                                            Best tacos EVER!

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: hello12345
                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                              penguinfoodie RE: hello12345 Nov 7, 2007 06:56 AM

                                                                                                              Save yourself the drive to San Diego and Mexico...try a dive restaurant thats 24/7 on Slauson in city of Vernon east of the 110 and west of the 710 on the north side of the street called "Azteca"...its a bright yellow free standing building...best soft taco's Ive found in LA...cabeza taco's remind me of the soft tacos from the mercado in mexico city...its awesome!

                                                                                                            2. o
                                                                                                              orojas RE: sunnygordy Nov 7, 2007 08:28 AM

                                                                                                              If you find yourself around Dodgers stadium and feel like having some Mexican food you need to try La Esquinita. We affectionately call it the hole in the wall but the food is good and so are the prices.

                                                                                                              La Esquinita
                                                                                                              1261 W. Sunset Blvd. LA
                                                                                                              (213) 482-1645

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: orojas
                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                Cubancoffee RE: orojas Nov 7, 2007 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                A thread a few weeks ago speculated that La Esquinita was closing. Can you confirm it is still dishing out the comida?

                                                                                                              2. j
                                                                                                                jdsoda RE: sunnygordy Nov 7, 2007 01:48 PM

                                                                                                                Don Antonios (Pico/Bundy area) --they have "taco wednesday's" --the first place I tried a potato taco years ago--and surprisingly loved it. I also like their salsa verde enchilada (the salsa verde is full of flavor) and their chips/salsa. Another good place in Santa Monica on Main Street (more of a take out place but you can sit and eat) is Holy Guacamole .

                                                                                                                1. t
                                                                                                                  terim RE: sunnygordy Nov 17, 2007 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                  Chichen Itza at 2501 W. 6th Street. Contemporary and attractive ambiance, good service and above all, a wonderful menu of beautifully prepared food from the Yucatan. Everything we had was excellent - from the chips covered with warm black beans and salsa and a little side dish of habanera sauce for extra heat, to the cochinita pibil and flavorful char-grilled chicken. Dessert of 3 sorbets was a nice surprise of house-made flavors ranging from savory passion fruit with a sprinkling of chili powder and sea salt (it was delicious!) to sweet (but not overly so) coconut topped with little bits of toasted coconut. We were so happy while eating our food that we kept talking about the other dishes we need to try next time. We've not yet been to Babita, but Chichen Itza ranks right at the top of the list for us and it won't be long before we return.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: terim
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                                                                                                                    flickhead RE: terim Nov 17, 2007 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                    That habanero paste is a near psychedelic experience! Pain has never tasted so good. Mr. Hayek does a marvelous job matching wine to his cuisine as well.

                                                                                                                  2. k
                                                                                                                    Kaisgraham RE: sunnygordy Nov 21, 2007 04:42 PM

                                                                                                                    Hands down, El Tepeyac Cafe in east LA. We've been going there for forty years and it NEVER disappoints. No alcohol, though, just delicious food. My husband always gets the Hollenbeck burrito. Second choice would be Olvera Street at one of the little stands that cooks right in front of you for the BEST taquitos ever. Enjoy.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Kaisgraham
                                                                                                                      justanotherpenguin RE: Kaisgraham Nov 21, 2007 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                      you are absolutely correct. have been going since 1965. always have trouble deciding between the hollenbeck and a machaca dinner.

                                                                                                                    2. a
                                                                                                                      alnyden RE: sunnygordy Nov 21, 2007 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                      Alegria in Silverlake, in addition to previously mentioned La Cabanita and Babita.

                                                                                                                      1. f
                                                                                                                        fideo RE: sunnygordy Nov 22, 2007 10:54 PM

                                                                                                                        Howdy! i just had to reply even though this request is old. A new restaurant in Long Beach called Mi Oaxaquena is fabulous. I can say with conviction that the food was very authentic (having lived in Oaxaca), Oaxacan cuisine is some of the finest that Mexico has to offer and they do not miss a beat, right down to the mole, micheladas and champureens (sp?) the champurrado is excellent too! It is on 10th & Orange in LB
                                                                                                                        Probecho!

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: fideo
                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                          thomtompkins RE: fideo Nov 24, 2007 09:44 AM

                                                                                                                          No one mentioned Ciudad in downtown. I think its the best Latin restaurant in LA, hands down.

                                                                                                                          1. re: thomtompkins
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                                                                                                                            penguinfoodie RE: thomtompkins Mar 2, 2008 09:07 AM

                                                                                                                            i have to disagree...i think Ciudad is terrible...really terrible...

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                                                                                                                          LegoEater RE: sunnygordy Mar 2, 2008 10:45 AM

                                                                                                                          A review of Babita for my first post.

                                                                                                                          Hi all. I've been lurking for a while and finally decided to sign up. I moved down to Claremont from Sacramento to go to grad school this fall and was raised in the Sonoma County wine country. In Sacramento, I lived two blocks from a fairly high end mexican place called Zocalo that I frequented quite alot. I have been missing that and after learning about Babita from this thread I decided to give it a try a week or so ago.
                                                                                                                          All I can say is WOW. There is true artistry going on in that little hole in the wall place. And I'm not talking about looks but taste artistry. Anyone can learn to plate and atractive dish and make little designs of sauce (which Babita had) but it is rare to have artistry of taste, of being able to truely understand flavors and combine them in a determined way to create something beautiful.
                                                                                                                          I started out with the soup of the day/dualing soups while my fiance had the salmon sopa. Both were excellent. The soups of fried plantains and (I think squash) coexisting in a shallow bowl were rich and lusty without being overly so. The salmon sopa was nicely done with just the right balance of red onion and fresh cream.
                                                                                                                          For the main course I had the special of the night which was mahi-mahi and a large diver scallop served in a rich broth containing fresh red currants, rasins, pumkin seeds, and green olives. I'm not sure what was going on with that broth but it was absolutely brilliant. I consider myself a good cook and mostly resturants fall into the class of "if I had their ingredients and equipment, I could do this", but that dish, I could not do with any ingredients or equipment. It was beyond my understanding of flavor.
                                                                                                                          My fiance had the mole enchaladas which were themselves the best I have ever tasted. Dessert was arroz con leche for her and the chocolate tamale for me. Both were pretty good but not outstanding. The tamale was not too sweet which was good as the chocolate didn't over power the corn taste allowing you to explore the combination.
                                                                                                                          As for the experience. I can understand some of the negative reviews in this thread. It is an unusual dining experience. Normal logic of our society dictates that a chef of such caliber has a high priced, shiny resturant with a fleet of professional wait staff. Babita dosen't follow that normal logic and that could be confusing. It truely is like eating at a private party at the chefs house. There is no layer of conventional professionalism between you and the chef so if he (or his wife) are annoyed, you might get bad service, or if he is happy, you will probably get a great experience (as we did). You just have to come prepared for this honesty in interaction. The whole time I kept thinking, why doesn't this guy have a big fancy place with shiny tables and a big bar like my old Zocalo? Then I realized the brillance of this strategy. The rent, the cost to run the place, the lack of more than 3 or 4 salaries to pay...His margins are probably several times that of a normal high end place and he can still charge the same for the quality involved. Brilliant indeed.
                                                                                                                          Being a grad student, I can't go there much, but I will be back.

                                                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                                                            jessejames RE: sunnygordy Mar 2, 2008 07:41 PM

                                                                                                                            I like Gilbert's El Indio on Pico...casual, nice folks, tasty chiles and that super mule burrito with ranchero sauce cheese and those little sweet chiles on top can't be beat...i like the fernandos with the relleno too but ask for asada inside as well...cash only but not much!

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                                                                                                                              frannycakes RE: sunnygordy Mar 2, 2008 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                              How about Yuca's in Los Feliz?

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                                                                                                                              1. re: frannycakes
                                                                                                                                sbritchky RE: frannycakes Mar 17, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                                I second the nomination of Yuca's -- great cochinita pibil burritos. By "great" I mean properly juicy, deep-flavored meat, and nicely folded into a manageable size. Be sure to ask for a pickled jalapeno to munch on.

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                Yuca's
                                                                                                                                2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

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                                                                                                                                at310110 RE: sunnygordy Mar 8, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                                Guelaguetza...Enough Said

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                                                                                                                                Guelaguetza
                                                                                                                                3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                                                                                                1. kanosis RE: sunnygordy Mar 14, 2008 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                                  I like Tres Cochinitos near the County Hospital near Valley Blvd and a stone's throw from Lincoln Park in Lincoln Heights. I love their birria and beans. With the explosion of Mex. regional dishes in L.A. and beyond, it's really hard to find a favorite rest. now a days.

                                                                                                                                  1. eezerik RE: sunnygordy May 8, 2008 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                                    babita was pretty awful, bland, and overpriced. disappointed CH!

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: eezerik
                                                                                                                                      sbritchky RE: eezerik May 18, 2008 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                                      Have they removed Shrimp Topolobampo from the menu, or did you order it 1/2- or 1/4-hot, instead of full blast? At 1/4, you barely need a couple of gallons of water to keep the fire under control.

                                                                                                                                      There are things to criticize about Babita -- prices, parking, service when packed, and the stewed meat in the Chiles en Nogada, among them -- but "bland"? The full-strength Topolobampo is excessively, obnoxiously, and unnecessarily hot. The main ingredient might as well be pig snouts. On the other hand, the tequila-cilantro-cured salmon sope is mild, subtle, delicious, and far from bland. Most dishes fall somewhere in between -- all well flavored and mostly delicious -- and not even the water is bland if you order the reasonably priced (for a restaurant) large bottle of Pellegrino.

                                                                                                                                      What dishes did you find that were so bland and "awful"?

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                                                                                                                                      ValleyGal RE: sunnygordy Jun 9, 2008 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                                      I love taco stands. Three of my absolute favorites (plus one nice sit-down restaurants) are:

                                                                                                                                      Yuca's - someone's already mentioned it, but I'll give the address again:

                                                                                                                                      2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

                                                                                                                                      It's a shack, but the food is legendary. Very few seats, all in the parking lot, surrounding rickety tables. You can get any drink at the liquor store next door.

                                                                                                                                      Get the cochinata pibil burrito, and if you can eat hot, try, but cautiously because it is VERY hot sauce, the the El Yacateo sauces in the little bottles.

                                                                                                                                      For border Mexican, and I LOVE border Mexican, try Juanita's in Claremont. It's on Indian Hill Blvd. about 1/4 mile south of I-10.

                                                                                                                                      It too is a shack, but it's legendary in that area. I went to school in the area 25 years ago, Juanita's was a legend then. Anytime I'm in the area I make a special stop.

                                                                                                                                      I love the shredded beef tacos, the bean and cheese burritos (I get extra cheese) and the hot sauce -- it's not salsa, it's hot sauce -- but just SO yummy. I buy 1/2 pints and take them home.

                                                                                                                                      There's another Juanita's in Ontario near the airport, Juanita's Two. They split from each other a few years ago but have the same food, and I like Juanita's Two better. Plus it has a drive-through.

                                                                                                                                      Other good border food is Benitos, which has a few locations in L.A. It's just cheap border food but it hits the spot for me. The carne asada tortas are excellent. The hot sauce varies because it's the person in charge of making it that day who uses their family recipe, but I've never been disappointed in the hot sauce.

                                                                                                                                      Finally, and more upscale but still very cheap, is Monte Alban. A very cheerful sit-down restaurant that serves Oaxcan food. It has often been said to be the best Oaxcan in L.A. Everything there is spectacular. It's very nicely designed and clean.
                                                                                                                                      Ask for the green salsa.

                                                                                                                                      It's in West L.A. in a strip mall on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Brockton (just east of Bundy)

                                                                                                                                      1. streetgourmetla RE: sunnygordy Jun 9, 2008 05:39 PM

                                                                                                                                        Nina's stand on Breed St., north of Cesar Chavez Saturday and Sunday nights after 7PM. The posole stand across street is also happening.Nina's does sopes,quesadillas,pambazos,gorditas, and guaraches with tinga,flor de calabaza, huitlacoche,chorizo con papa, asada, y mas.The salsa de semillas is amazing and a first for me.I also like the women from Veracruz next to Nina's with her tacos varios like arroz con huevo, babrbacoa, and cochinita.Authentic Mexican street food and a great Boyle Heights family atmosphere.Enjoy this place before the police and Gloria Molina's brilliant policy doesn't put them out of business; join the cause and sign their petition to protect working families.

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                                                                                                                                          pharmnerd RE: sunnygordy Jul 25, 2008 04:08 PM

                                                                                                                                          So far for me:

                                                                                                                                          Sit down: La Casita. Am hoping to try the other recs (La Huasteca, Babita, La Parilla, etc) some day soon.
                                                                                                                                          Tacos: Vista Hermosa in Mercado La Paloma for Al Pastor. La Estrella in ELA and Don Felix in WLA, for carne asada. Taco Nazo for fish tacos. Otherwise, am hoping to try others of Bandini's recs in The Great Taco Hunt.

                                                                                                                                          1. s
                                                                                                                                            sirchuckster RE: sunnygordy Jul 26, 2008 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                                            When you can't make it to the Eastside for El Tepeyac (Manuels) or Ciro's, try
                                                                                                                                            Carrillo's in Winnetka on Sherman Way and Corbin.
                                                                                                                                            Los Tres Hermanos on Van Nuys north of Sherman Way in the Valley.

                                                                                                                                            1. f
                                                                                                                                              fooddude37 RE: sunnygordy Sep 10, 2008 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                              Just wanted to thrown in a vote for La Casita right now. I went for the first time and it's one of the most satisfying Mexican meals I've had in a while. Many of the places mentioned here utilize the steam table approach, or their meat has a texture that I dislike (I do like Yuca's but I think the meat is just way overstewed)

                                                                                                                                              Tonight at La Casita I had the tres moles de puerco. Each sauce was unique, well balanced, and flavorful. The pork itsself had a great texture, just nicely roasted and shredded, moist on its own. Served with homemade tortillas, rice, soup, and an horchata, great meal. I would make the trek to Bell again just for another meal like tonight's.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: fooddude37
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                                                                                                                                                noshie RE: fooddude37 Sep 11, 2008 07:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                La Casita, better than Babita

                                                                                                                                                1. re: noshie
                                                                                                                                                  mstinawu RE: noshie Sep 11, 2008 09:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                  You can't really compare--their food is very different though if I HAD to, I'd pick Babita's.

                                                                                                                                              2. Jigsaw RE: sunnygordy Sep 11, 2008 03:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                I wish we could tally all the votes!

                                                                                                                                                Would make my 'tour' of all the aforementioned locales easier.

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jigsaw
                                                                                                                                                  Eat_Nopal RE: Jigsaw Sep 11, 2008 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Some votes are more equal than others. If you are smart you will recognize the ones that count.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                                                                                                                                                    Servorg RE: Eat_Nopal Sep 12, 2008 05:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                    There is only one "vote" that counts - your own.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg
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                                                                                                                                                      bulavinaka RE: Servorg Sep 12, 2008 07:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Standing ovation - man, you're good! I'm going to salute you today when I chomp down on my Milanesa cemitas at the Cemitas Poblanas truck...

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