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Apr 23, 2007 08:43 AM

good Mexican food near Brea

I have a couple of coworkers coming in from out of town (Texas & Ohio) and have requested mexican food. The only Mexican restaurant I know of and frequent is El Camino Real, which has REALLY good and authentic food....cheapt too! Only thing is it's a total hole in the wall and they want something nicer...sit-down meal. The only other places I can think of are places like El Torito Grill or Acapulco...which I'm guessing they have in their respective states as well. Any suggestions?

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  1. Oh, God no, don't take anyone to Acapulco!!

    Go to El Farolito in Placentia. It is WELL worth the extra five minutes' drive. Get the carnitas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      When my brother use to live in Yorba Linda he and the family would go to the El Farolito once a week. I thought it was pretty good, they loved it!

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        ding ding! Ditto the El Farolito recommendation.

        Whatever you get, don't get the tamale (lotsa masa, very little meat). Otherwise, everything else is really good (I usu get their lunch special)!! I also love their chips (thick, oily & freshly fried) & salsa.

        Edit: Frescas has $0.99 fried chicken tacos (if you like greasy tacos) on Tuesdays. Not authentic Mexican fare, but I enjoy it. They also have agua fresca (horchata, watermelon & cantalope) and a nice selection of salsa. They're in the Birch Street Promenade.

      2. I have eaten at El Camino Real and at El Farolito. El Farolito is just about a half step better than El Camino Real as they do serve you and have waitresses and menus.

        But despite what everyone writes here on Chowhound, El Farolito can be an iffy proposition. It is a hole in the wall as well and part of the restaurant is just an enclosed patio. The food is not served very attractively and I personally don't think it is anything special. I think the El Torito Grill in Brea is very nice place to go but it is a lot more expensive. They have traditional Mexican food as well as some very interesting specials. Another place that is not much more expensive than El Farolito is Blue Agave in Yorba Linda on Yorba Linda Blvd. It is a much nicer place to sit and the food is good and served nicely. But it is considered Southwestern style.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Suzanne 92835

          I've been to the El Torito Grill in Brea w/co-workers. They serve good, solid Americanized Mexican food, with a nice chain atmosphere and decor to match.

          For sure, the El Farolito isn't pretty, but for me, it's part of the charm. Cheaper rent and overhead just means less out of my pocket when I buy dinner.

          1. re: Suzanne 92835

            Thanks for the comparison. If El Farolito is another hole in the wall, then I think I need to find another place to go. Cost is less of a concern since my coworkers are traveling on business so their dinners will be expensed. I was just hoping for something other than the typical chains, since that wouldn't be any different from the Mexican food they can get in their area. I guess if I can't find a nice place to go, then I'm afraid I'll just have to settle for El Torito Grill.

            1. re: mages

              By all means avoid the mega chain. If not El Farolito which is loved by most on this board (and will not disappoint), then try Cafe El Cholo in La Habra, just 5 min west of Brea.

              1. re: mages

                It's a separate building. Is it some fancy glittery place that has ferns in pots and Tijuana coloured tiles everywhere, with linen napkins and wine glasses? No. There are precious few Mexican places like that in the LA area.

                Is it a take-out-oriented place with harsh fluorescent lighting and the menu written up above the counter where you order? No.

                It's a sit-down Mexican restaurant where you sit and get table service. It's not a hole-in-the-wall (though it's not in a pretty part of town), but it's not Le Bernardin either. You won't find an expense-account Mexican restaurant in north Orange County.

                If you're concerned, go check it out yourself -- in my not-very-humble-at-all opinion it's worth multiple visits.

            2. As has been said before, El Farolito is generally good food and authentic. It is not a hole in the wall but it is casual.

              Another fairly casual place in Fullerton is Anita's New Mexican Food. Good stuff but not Mexican Mexican.

              Another idea: there are some nicer Mexican restaurants, in terms of environment, in downtown Fullerton. This is a nicely revitalized area with easy walking, numerous bars and restaurants etc. I can't comment on the food quality but the environment is fun and you can take in the neighborhood.

              1 Reply
              1. re: khoiberg

                Revolucion Grill is a must-miss; Rockin' Taco Cantina is OK (they have good chiles rellenos) but it turns into a club after 10 PM. I'd rather go to El Farolito for the food.

              2. El Cholo is your stereotypical Mexican restaurant from the 1950's and 1960's. I went to the one in LA when I was a little girl. It is actually part of a chain of 7 restaurants. The green corn tamales are their specialty and I think they are really good. I think that is the best thing on their menu. They are only available during the summer months. But they may be available in May.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Suzanne 92835

                  Sometimes I dont understand chowhounders, El Farolito is over rated.Ive been there 3 times now and its always been mediocre. El Cholo is even worse although "nicer". I don't mean to be so negative but I'm picky with mexican food (being Texican)

                  1. re: robgue

                    El Cholo's not very good... but I'm curious what you've had at El Farolito that turned you off -- though I avoid "combo glop plate number N" at any Mexican place, so it may be that they offer that and it's not well-executed.

                    1. re: robgue

                      I am so glad someone else agrees with me about El Farolito. It is what it is. A little neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Southern California probably has thousands of similar restaurants. I do think that the dishes could be served more attractively. What I don't understand is the putdown of the El Torito Grill. El Torito Grill is part of a chain but it is different from El Torito. It is a really pretty restaurant and their plates are beautifully served. They have a specials menu that changes seasonally with all sorts of really interesting dishes and combinations. They also serve freshly made tortillas that they make all day long. The biggest problem is it is more expensive than some little neighborhood Mexican restaurant run by mom and pop.

                      But all mom and pop restaurants aren't great and all chains aren't terrible just because they are chains!!!!!!!!!!! The key is what you order.

                      1. re: Suzanne 92835

                        Is it possible that you just don't "get" El Farolito?

                        There are a couple other restaurants the most CHs love (Anita's SW and Mas Islamic Chinese) that I don't like and instead of putting those two restaurants down as mediocre, I'm the first to admit that I don't understand the appeal of the said restaurants.

                        To each his own. =)

                        1. re: OCAnn

                          OK you make me ask. What do you mean "get" El Farolito? (If you were directing that to me) I never said El Farolito was "Mediocre" by the way.

                          1. re: Suzanne 92835

                            I'm not doubting your taste or palate, but when many folks enjoy a certain place and I'm (or you are) one of the few that doesn't enjoy it, maybe neither of us "gets" the appeal of that particular restaurant. Does that make sense?

                            So, get = understand

                            E.g., Beard Papa seems to be popular, but I don't particularly find it appealing. I don't think that my taste is off, but when so many people enjoy it, there must be something to account for its mass appeal.

                            And yes, I know you never said El F was "mediocre"; that was my word for Anitas & Mas.

                            1. re: OCAnn

                              I have lived in Fullerton since 1962 and have gone to El Farolito many many times. Sometimes the food was good and sometimes not. The last time we were there (3 of us) it was universally bad. We haven't been back. The reason I got in to this discussion was that the original poster had asked for a place that they stated was "they want something nicer...sit-down meal. "

                              They had many recommendations of El Farolito and I didn't say "don't go there" but rather that I thought it was an "iffy" proposition. Also the poster had said that they wanted something"nicer". I am sorry but I just don't think El Farolito is a restaurant that I would put in the category "nicer" or that I would take out of town visitors too. I just wanted them to know that perhaps it wasn't the restaurant they were looking for.

                              I guess we have to agree to disagree.

                              1. re: Suzanne 92835

                                Thanks for everyone's suggestion. I think I'll leave it up to my out of town guests to choose...between El Torito Grill and El Farolito. Personally I'm leaning toward El Torito Grill, since I've been there and know that it's a nice restaurant...although more americanized. Thanks everyone!