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Dad wants "real Mexican--not street food"

My family is visiting from the East coast in a few days, and my dad has requested "real Mexican--not street food," by which he means not burritos or tacos or the like. So I know what he DOESN'T want, but since I'm not that knowledgeable about Mexican cuisine I'm not quite sure what he does want, or where to find it. Any suggestions for good Mexican restaurants? Prefer Southbay if possible, but Westside is also fine, or anywhere in between. (East L.A. and San Gabriel are too far.) Personally, I love burritos and tacos, and definitely consider them "real" Mexican food, but please help me make my dad happy!

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  1. Given your criteria, esp. location, I would suggest your best bet would be Monte Alban.

    Of course, if you were willing to go to the SGV, then all bets are off and the only choice would be Babita.

    Monte Alban
    11927 Santa Monica Blvd. (in between Bundy/Barrington)
    (310) 444-7736

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I cannot scream more loudly in support of this recommendation. In my world, the sun rises and sets at Monte Alban...

    2. Babita, or La Serenata de Garibaldi (Boyle Heights location is best).

      1 Reply
      1. Chichen Itza (the 6th St. location)
        Serenata (the Boyle Hts. location)
        I've got mixed feelings about West-side Oaxacan..., but MAYBE Monte Alban...

        1 Reply
        1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

          Guelaguetza on the westside is very good.

        2. Definitely talk him into going to Babita (meaning it's worth the slight extra drive to E. LA).

          1. Ba--BEEEEE--ta. definitely. very cute place, and just swanky enough to make the occasion special. oh, and the food's amazing...

            1. La Huasteca in Lynwood

              1. A resturant that has been getting a lot of attention lately is Casita Mexican in Bell. Jonathan Gold holds this place in VERY high regards. It is owned by two brothers who are considered the leaders of the slow food movement in Mexican cuisine. I can vouch that their Chile Rellenos (Oaxacan style) are absolutely fantastic. They are stuffed with meat, nuts and I think dried fruit and served with crema and pomengranite seeds sprinkled on top. Also their pesole is fantastic.

                1. what about Tlapozola grill on gateway at barrington? their salmon in pumpkin seed sauce is very good...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tigercactus

                    I second Tlapazola Grill, but have only been to the one on Lincoln near Venice. Great food and service, cozy atmosphere; about as far from tacos/burritos as L.A. Mexican food gets.


                  2. Great recs.... here is how they shake down...

                    *Babita for all around dining experience. Even throughi t is out of your area, it is an experience and they have lovely wines...

                    * La Huasteca... A notch below Babita, but they have a full bar with wonderful Tequillas and hence GREAT margaritas

                    * Monte Alban... great neighborhood place for Oaxacan. On the westside... I personally think you can't go wrong here....

                    * Chichen Itza... the most advanced in terms of Mexican in the City IMHO. Even Babita does the 'beans and rice' thing. Chichen Itza tries REALLY hard to stay true to the cusine it reprensents (Including providing dishes literally unheard of outside of Mexico and using Venison, which is indeed traditional of the region)


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dommy

                      How is this for strange:

                      I lived in SaMo for 11 years and am now in Culver City. Anyone who has read my posts know I've been to every place from La Playita to El Abajeno to Don Felix to Sabor to Tacomiendo to Tlapazola to Gilbert's to Lares to Sanchez to Gallegos to El Texate and that doesn't count the trucks I've been to and oh yeah I go to Cora's and Pancho's and Paco's and Campos for turkey tacos or Don Antonio's where I go with this one friend I've got and Juquila where I used to go when I lived real close ...

                      Add: Oh yeah, I eat in Titos and at Cinco de Mayo in the middle of the night.

                      But I've never been to Monte Alban.


                      Driven past a million times.

                      I've been to El Chollo's, Acapulco's, Marix, Border Grill and that chain/dump on Ocean Park ... but I've never been to Monte Alban ...

                      I have no idea why.

                      Like living in Coney Island and never eating at Nathan's ... okay, there is a better analogy than that, but I can't think if it.

                      1. re: PaulF

                        You should go... it will open up a nice world for you of Moles and Enfrijoladas. :)


                    2. Is your request purely culinary, or are you also saying that you don't want to engage the dangers and discomforts of the Los Angeles street? If the latter, you may not like the dicey Bell location of Casita Mexicana, although I must say that their Chiles en Nogada are simultaneously refined and grunt-delicious. (They stuff the chiles with flavorful ground meat instead of the often-overstewed mush at Babita.) Many other dishes at Babita, however, are wonderful; I particularly like the sushi-style salmon appetizer. Though too far for you, apparently, Babita is in a creaky but nice little house in a non-threatening neighborhood and, like Casita Mexicana, can have very charming service. I do find myself going to the Casita about twice as often as Babita's these days.

                      1. Frida's in Beverly Hills. Fantastic salsas. Authentic Mexico City cuisine. Try the tacos de rib eye. Or the steak with huitlacoche. Great ceviches. I love Frida's. Monte Alban is good but I think Frida's is the best.

                        1. Wow, thanks for all the helpful replies! Will probably go to Monte Alban, but I'll run some of the ideas by Dad.
                          (By the way, the neighborhood restriction isn't about fear of the "dangers and discomforts of the Los Angeles street"--I work on skid row. Or unwillingness to drive for good food. Rather, I live in Southbay and my sister was recently in a car accident and finds long car trips very painful...but we need to go to the Westside at least once during the family visit anyway. Hence the location restrictions.)

                          1. I live in the South Bay, too, and would like some recs that fit nicole's query. there must be some in LB or Wilmington, pedro?
                            been to chichen itza....fine. very fine.

                            3 Replies
                              1. re: Servorg

                                Exactly! The pork shank is AMAZING...


                                1. re: Servorg

                                  We went recently to the Enrique's in Bellflower, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hear the Long Beach store is as good.

                                  The "meat in its own juices" dish was my favorite, and I also loved the grilled poblano chiles stuffed w/ two cheeses app. The pork shank was great too.