Sonora Cafe- Don't go!
I went to Sonora Cafe the other night because it's near my apartment and I pass it all the time. I love trying new restaurants and am not afraid of spending money on great food. I enjoy Mozza, Koi, Il Sole, etc. However, last night the money my friend and I spent for what we received was appalling. My friend and I both ordered two cocktails and an entree. I had enchiladas that were no better than the Amy's organic ones they sell at the grocery store, I walked out of there having spent $65 for two drinks and an average enchilada! I do want to be fair and say that our waiter was fantastic. He was very kind and helpful. If you are going to charge those kinds of prices though you've gotta have something more to write home about than just good service.
Their prices are pretty high for what you get. Some of it is tasty but this place is really like 1980s "gourmet" Mexican food, duck quesadillas and whatnot, lots of creamy sauces as I recall. It's convenient for a business lunch (if someone else is paying!) but otherwise, there's dozens of better places for Mexican food. The whole concept seems pretty dated at this point.
I agree that their enchiladas are awful. But that was the only dish I had there that I did not like. Everything else has been wonderful.
If you had eaten something like their huge cowboy cut steak, or giant pork chops, pretty much any other giant meat dish, you probably would have been happy. Both in flavor and certainly the money would have felt better spent.
Anything with duck is also really good, and I have liked shrimp and ceviche dishes there. The soft tacos served at the bar are amazing (although small for price).
The margaritas alone are worth going out of the way for - big, strong, not too sweet - yum.
So if you like to get stuffed on meat and booze, this is the place for you. For better Mexican standard dishes, go to their sister place El Cholo.
^ That strikes me as fairly expensive for a Mexican restaurant. Am I wrong about that?
I mean, can't you get a main course (aka entree) at, say, Jar or Lucques, for $25 (and upwards) or so? But I suppose you will spend more on everything else at those two places...
I dunno -- when I think 'Mexican' I think 'cheap eats'. If I'm gonna fork out close to $20 for a main meal, then I may as well go somewhere a little more upscale than, say Sonora Cafe. Am I off the mark?
Here is the link to their dinner menu, which shows prices quite comparable, and oftentimes less than many many restaurants in the greater LA area serving above average quality fare - regardless whether or not it is Mexican, Chinese, Italian, French, California, etc.
They should never be compared to any local beaneria, taco joint, etc., nor in my mind even a Mexico City or Malo, as their food is better, the ambiance much better, etc. And the enchiladas listed do not sound average per their kid sister El Cholo - much different set of ingredients - whether or not you perceived the value difference is a separate conversation.
Drinks will be drinks, as wines will be wines(and they do carry some good ones, btw), and each place will mark them up as they so choose.
But keep in mind that $18-$30 entrees today are VERY commonplace.
I'm a 2-yrs.-new to LA via Chicago resident and have been underwhelmed by more than my share of LA restaurants. But I actually like Sonora. Their cocktails are tasty and priced on par to other LA restaurants....their signature green lip mussel appetizer is fantastic, as is the cowboy steak and pork chop.
I've had the enchiladas and do agree with the other poster who said it that it's my least favorite thing on the menu. Everything else is wonderful. Sounds like a case of a bad ordering choice (has happened to me as well).