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Upscale Mexican Cuisine

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.

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  1. 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....)

    --Dommy!

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

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: David Kahn

                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. 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).

                http://www.laserenataonline.com/

                6 Replies
                1. re: DanaB

                  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

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

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: DanaB

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

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        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

                          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

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

                    2. 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. Is Tamayo still around? Has it improved?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mc michael

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

                          --Dommy!

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