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Upscale Mexican Cuisine

djquinnc Feb 28, 2007 11:58 AM

A friend of mine wants to go and eat some "fancy", upscale Mexican food. There is plenty of good Mexican comida in town, that's for sure, but not a lot that's haute that comes to mind.

Any and all recs are appreciated. Thanks.

  1. Dommy Feb 28, 2007 12:13 PM

    The KING is Babita in San Gabriel. Just amazing ingredients used to make truly classic dishes. I love it so much, I choose it for our 'Valentines Day' dinner (That following Saturday) and it did not disapoint.

    Followed far behind is la Huasteca at Plaza Mexico in Lynnwood. They are doing some good stuff with the basics. Their Huitlacoche Filet is one of the best beef dishes I've ever had in or our of Mexico. Beware, I've heard nothing but bad things about their Pasadena branch... :(

    Lastly... and VERY lastly is Frida's in Beverly Hills. Similar to Babita, but doesn't hit the mark in terms of REALLY elevating the cuisine where it should be at that price point. One of the best Carintas Tacos I've ever had came from Fridas... and THANKGOODNESS it was on the company's dime because I would have NEVER paid that much for a taco (somewhere ~$5 EACH....)


    1. v
      vinosnob Feb 28, 2007 12:25 PM

      I'm a huge fan of Tlapazola. Cuisine is Oaxacan based with California influences. High points are seafood, anything with their magical moles and the daily specials. As a bonus, they have a killer tequila selection and Samuel will be glad to concoct a masterful margarita for you.

      Also, don't be fooled by the sterile exterior/mini mall location. Like some of LA's best sushi bars, it's the food that counts. Actually, Tlapazol's decor is simple, but well appointed and the staff is one of the friendliest in town.

      11676 Gateway Blvd.
      West Los Angeles, 90064

      1. g
        goldbergd Feb 28, 2007 12:31 PM

        I am still a Border Grill fan in Santa Monica. The owners also own a place in downtown called Ciudad but thats is not mexican more spanish.

        The owners were regulars on the cooking network for awhile that always seems to be on in my house when my wife is home. I think there show was callled two hot tamales!

        1. o
          Obessed Feb 28, 2007 12:59 PM

          Someone recommended Frida in Beverly Hills, but I haven't been yet.

          1. s
            strangeeffect Feb 28, 2007 01:31 PM

            La Casita Mexicana (http://www.casitamex.com/) is also a good choice:
            4030 East Gage Avenue
            Bell, CA

            I like it much better than La Huasteca and enjoy it along the lines of Tlapazola, but in a different way.

            Looking forward to Babita in a few weeks based on all the great reviews.

            1. David Kahn Feb 28, 2007 02:15 PM

              La Casita Mexicana and Babita (both already suggested) would be my top two choices.

              1 Reply
              1. re: David Kahn
                kotter Feb 28, 2007 04:28 PM

                i disagree about serenata. i went there for the 1st time a couple of months ago and it was terrible. half the food was over-cooked, the other half was so over-salted, it was inedible.

              2. DanaB Feb 28, 2007 02:15 PM

                Second the recommendation for Babita.

                Then, there is always the "original" upscale Los Angeles Mexican restaurant -- La Serenata de Garibaldi. Although opinions vary on this board, I've always enjoyed my meals there. (Btw, I prefer the original location downtown).


                6 Replies
                1. re: DanaB
                  bite bite Feb 28, 2007 02:21 PM

                  I like the downtown location too. Attractive, warm atmosphere -- multigenerational feel and great place to take my parents who don't like anything too hip or crazy. Passing the mariarchi-for-hire all dressed to impress on the way over is another huge plus. Fish soup very fresh and tastey.

                  1. re: DanaB
                    Dommy Feb 28, 2007 02:27 PM

                    I completely forgot about La Serenata! Great place! :)


                    1. re: DanaB
                      Das Ubergeek Mar 1, 2007 12:59 PM

                      I love La Serenata -- but only the Boyle Heights branch. I've found the Westside branches rushed and inconsistent.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        camarokyle Mar 1, 2007 04:07 PM

                        I have to agree on La Serenata in Boyle Heights. I went to dinner here one night for a school project (best homework ever!) and it was by far the best mexican food I have ever had. Don't let the surrounding neighborhood fool you, it may seem like the ghetto outside, but inside it is very, very elegant.

                        1. re: camarokyle
                          Das Ubergeek Mar 1, 2007 06:43 PM

                          Just don't order margaritas -- they only have a beer and wine license (which means the margaritas are made with soju).

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
                            camarokyle Mar 1, 2007 07:53 PM

                            Very true Das. Although I didn't have one, I have heard that their margarita's are still very good, sans the tequila.

                    2. d
                      djquinnc Feb 28, 2007 02:34 PM

                      Thanks for the good recs so far. I haven't been to La Serenata or Border Grill in eons, but it looks like my pals and I have some new adventures ahead of us!

                      1. m
                        mc michael Feb 28, 2007 02:34 PM

                        Is Tamayo still around? Has it improved?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mc michael
                          Dommy Feb 28, 2007 03:03 PM

                          Still around... sadly has not improved... It's still solid Mexican Food (Mole Enchiladas are great!), but nothing at all special. :(


                        2. t
                          tarabell Feb 28, 2007 07:13 PM

                          Sonora on La Brea fits the bill. Not quite "Mexico City" Mexican food, but it's got some good creative dishes and has a lovely atmosphere but doesn't feel like a rip-off. You can't really go wrong with it so that's where I would take a guest. As I recall their special martini (the one named after the owner Ron Salisbury, with the jalapeno) was excellent.

                          For the love of everything holy, don't go to El Coyote. You'll get garbage on a plate.

                          1. chica Mar 1, 2007 09:08 AM

                            I love Frida. Large, beautifully plated portions; awesome mole, huge salads, delicious shareable desserts. In fact, we usually share all the food because there's so much. They don't have a split charge, and service is wonderful. Servers and ambience is hot, too; you usually see a celeb or two.

                            1. s
                              silverlakebodhisattva Mar 2, 2007 02:42 PM

                              Serenata (Boyle Hts.ONLY), and, for a slightly different experience, Chichen Itza (hey, they've got a wine list!).

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