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Tired of Baja Fresh, Chipotle

c
chowla Oct 19, 2007 06:59 PM

I am in a rut. Have been going to Baja Fresh and Chipotle too many times. When I was in New York I went to Burritoville which had some mole burritos that were pretty good. I know that was a chain too, but at least not as big a chain as Baja Fresh. So I guess I am just looking for an independent alternative to Baja Fresh. P.S. I love mole!

  1. Servorg Oct 19, 2007 07:13 PM

    There have been a couple of comprehensive burrito threads on the board of late, (along with quite a few others that were more focused on things like breakfast burritos or what have you). Here is a link to one of them.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347781

    1. DiveFan Oct 20, 2007 12:22 AM

      Welcome to Chowhound!

      Permit me to introduce you to the LA region Mexican Place map, http://www.chow.com/places/regions/2?filters%5Bgeneral_cuisine%5D=Mexican home of over 190 establishments and growing. Narrow your search from here.

      Coincidentally one of the places in my area has a mole burrito called the Deluxe Poblanita Chicken. Sorry, haven't tried it yet. http://www.chow.com/places/5627

      Superior mole is more likely found in a higher end restaurant rather than a taqueria, search the recent threads on 'chile en nogada' for destinations.

      If you really want to get out of a rut in LA, go for a taco (truck) or two!

      4 Replies
      1. re: DiveFan
        ElJeffe Oct 20, 2007 02:44 PM

        DiveFan this map is awesome!! I've only been to Taco Miendo so looks like I have some work to do. Have you been to Tacos Por Favor? That's next on my list to try.

        I lived in Chicago for a long time, and still like their burritos the best (before you laugh, #2 Mexican population outside of LA). Its a very different style of burrito. They always use a thick pinto bean paste as the glue, would NEVER add rice, use a great shredded Chihuahua cheese, and always grill the outside quite a bit, which I love. The end result is mobile food perfection...they never fall apart on you like most burritos here do. And great salsa verde....mmmm, booking a flight now....

        1. re: DiveFan
          DiveFan Oct 20, 2007 10:29 PM

          ElJeffe, thanks for the details on a 'Chicago' burrito. Except for the cheese and the griddling it sounds like a typical (not chain or old school) 'Los Angeles' burrito. Here most immigrant run trucks and taquerias don't put excess filler in the burro, just meat, smear of refried beans, onion, cilantro and salsa. The result is a hand held delight as you described.

          As they get Americanized the product starts to resemble the infamous overstuffed 'Mission' burrito from SF: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito#... . In the SFBA it might contain all manner of non-traditional, 'healthy' ingredients (but don't mention the total caloric intake :-). For obvious reasons I call it the 'corporate profit' burrito; it is usually dangerous even when eaten with two hands.

          If the Wikipedia description of the 'Sandy Eggo' burrito is at all accurate, I'm really not impressed. Guacamole, french fries, lettuce, cheese.....*shudder*.

          A year ago several topics raged on SF vs LA burritos, search on 'mission burrito' in either board.

          1. re: DiveFan
            ElJeffe Oct 23, 2007 01:27 PM

            Went to Tacos Por Favor today and was sorely disappointed:( Burrito was decent but I'd even give Taco Miendo the nod. The carnitas sope was very good, however. I may give it another try focusing on tacos. Looks like my burrito hunt will continue. ...

            1. re: ElJeffe
              a_and_w Oct 24, 2007 04:08 PM

              Try Taco Plus, which serves a similar burrito to Tacomiendo but with better construction (imo). Also, Eduardo's grills their burritos, and they do a version without rice, but no al pastor or carnitas, sadly.

              PS: In my experience, it's best to stick with the chorizo at Tacos Por Favor. Also, I always ask for my burrito "to go" so they wrap it in foil. Same is true of Eduardo's.

        2. y
          yogachik Oct 20, 2007 10:30 AM

          I love Poquito Mas - outside of the trucks and stands and family run places

          1 Reply
          1. re: yogachik
            m
            malibu1 Oct 20, 2007 10:37 AM

            I like Howdy's in Malibu and Culver City.
            http://howdys.net/

          2. Normal Garciaparra Oct 20, 2007 01:00 PM

            I know Baja Fresh is a chain, but I can literally drink that black bean salsa of theirs. I'm sorry, I'm addicted to that stuff.

            1. r
              robl Oct 20, 2007 01:30 PM

              Here's a place that I enjoy, though very few locations in Central LA County.

              Sharky's Woodfired Grill
              http://www.sharkys.com

              Their food made with organic ingredients, good flavored food, and the portions are decent.

              2 Replies
              1. re: robl
                a
                ahuacatl Oct 20, 2007 02:32 PM

                For chain Mexican - the tempura battered fish tacos at Sharky's are delish and of the locations I've been to, Hollywood is the most consistent. They know me by name at Poquito Mas (everything on the menu is good, but the chips are the worst in town). I avoid Baja Fresh and Chipotle. I used to do Baja Bud's from time to time because their portions were ridiculous, but they closed the WeHo location ages ago. As far as a quick mole burrito, Loteria is okay, not the best item on their menu. Believe it or not, Trader Joe's has a red mole in a jar that is good enough to stave off mole withdrawal. You can get everything you need from TJ's to make a decent mole burrito at home. They have these individually sealed/frozen chicken breasts that I keep on hand just for that. I also sprinkle some goat cheese on mine.

                1. re: ahuacatl
                  ElJeffe Oct 20, 2007 02:38 PM

                  I don't like Baja Fresh or Chipoltle but agree Poquito Mas is in a similar vein if you are looking for more of the same.

              2. e
                Ernie Oct 20, 2007 02:34 PM

                No mole but good tacos and burritos at Taco Village (East LA), Baja Fish (San Pedro), Manny's El Loco (SGV), King Taco (ELA), etc.

                1. Dommy Oct 20, 2007 02:50 PM

                  Try Baja Buds on National and Sepulveda.... they even do Whole Wheat Tortillas...

                  --Dommy!

                  1. katkoupai Oct 20, 2007 07:30 PM

                    Que Ricos. I like their aqua frescas (made with real fruit) and their taco combination plates.

                    -----
                    Que Ricos
                    1000 N Soto St, Los Angeles, CA 90033

                    1. Emme Oct 20, 2007 07:39 PM

                      My haunts include...

                      Monte Alban
                      Gilbert's El Indio
                      Tacomiendo
                      Tacos Por Favor
                      Lucy's

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Emme
                        a_and_w Oct 24, 2007 04:10 PM

                        I don't believe Monte Alban does burritos, but if Mole is what you seek, that's the place to go.

                        1. re: a_and_w
                          j
                          JBC Oct 25, 2007 01:56 PM

                          I have this habbit of picking up the to-go (& dine-in) menus from whatever dining establishments I might venture into. I have Monte Alban's, and it has no Burritos; however, if they will sell you some mole sauce to go, then you can take some with into El Super Taco (only about 50 feet away in the same mini-mall) and pour/dip some over/in the 3 versons they serve and presto-chango, you got it!

                          1. re: a_and_w
                            Emme Oct 25, 2007 03:23 PM

                            Yes, I was responding to the mole request and that for quick Mexican food...

                            1. re: Emme
                              a_and_w Oct 31, 2007 11:38 AM

                              Gotcha. For those interested in mole burritos, I believe Tacos Por Favor does a version, though I haven't personally tried it.

                        2. o
                          omakase Oct 20, 2007 08:53 PM

                          If you're anywhere near Fairfax and 3rd, Loteria Grill inside the Farmer's Market serves some very tasty Mexican Food at some very affordable prices. Regarding the chains, I'd go to either Poquito Mas or Sharkey's or both. For mole, try Guelaguetza (3014 W. Olympic Blvd.) - very very good.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: omakase
                            mollyomormon Oct 23, 2007 02:31 PM

                            Loteria actually has a mole burrito!

                            1. re: mollyomormon
                              s
                              sherpa50 Oct 25, 2007 10:39 AM

                              I love Loteria's mole cheese enchiladas.

                          2. b
                            bsquared2 Oct 20, 2007 09:58 PM

                            One of my favorite places is El Gran Burrito on Santa Monica & Vermont. A place I eat at a couple of times a week is Tere's Mexican Grill on Melrose & Cahuenga. It is a little more comfortable than EGB, but is also very good. If you like Mexican Food from NYC and Baja Fresh/Chipotle, these places will be a revelation. When you mentioned eating Mexican in NY, it made me think of those Pace Hot Sauce commercials. NYC has the most subpar Mexican food that I have ever had (and I even ate Tacos in Liverpool and Hong Kong!)

                            If you go to Tere's, try the Chile Relleno Burrito, Noodle Soup or the Mole Enchiladas. The Guacamole is also very good.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bsquared2
                              c
                              chowla Oct 24, 2007 10:53 PM

                              Thanks for pointing me to Tere's. Went there tonight for a burrito. It was nice to sit outside and the quality was much better than Baja Fresh. I'll be back for the mole enchiladas.

                            2. m
                              MahiMahiFish Oct 21, 2007 12:58 AM

                              Poquito Mas is very good, I have to agree with the other posts.
                              I also like Pachanga, a little bit better than Baja or La Salsa. They have a few locations, here is the one I frequent:
                              Pachanga Mexican Grill
                              1590 Rosecrans Ave
                              Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
                              (310) 536-9111

                              1. c
                                chris1621 Oct 21, 2007 11:38 AM

                                As far as chains go, I also love Rubio's. There as many in LA, but more in the OC and in San Diego.

                                1. s
                                  search_for_the_holy_gruel Oct 23, 2007 02:57 PM

                                  I recommend King Taco or El Taurino. They both have great tacos but I love their burritos more and their sauce is SO addictive. And El Taurino is open into the wee hrs which is perfect for some after hrs grub (esp after you've had a bit too much to drink). Loteria in the Farmer's Market is worth a visit, also. I crave their mushroom tacos...their food is so fresh.

                                  1. s
                                    Soulja Boy Oct 23, 2007 03:48 PM

                                    La Serranata - (Pico and Westwood) is outstanding. The sauces in particular are excellent. You can mix and match sauce to burrito, or just meat, fish, or chicken + sauce. My gf loves the Mahi Mahi burrito that comes covered in a light avocado sauce. Outstanding fish. Dessert is great, and the mixed drinks are really tasty - Sangria and Margaritas. The service is excellent as well. This place is sit down, though.

                                    La Taquiza - (near USC) is less "baja" and more "fried," but very tasty.

                                    Senor Fish (Little Tokyo) is also a baja spot downtown that I forgot to mention in other downtown posts.

                                    -----
                                    Senor Fish
                                    422 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                    La Taquiza
                                    3009 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                                    La Serenata
                                    10924 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Soulja Boy
                                      mollyomormon Oct 23, 2007 03:51 PM

                                      The scallop burrito at Senor Fish is amazing!

                                    2. l
                                      lovetoroq Oct 23, 2007 04:28 PM

                                      Senor Fish with locations in --South Pasadena, Little Tokyo, Eagle Rock and Duarte. Really great fish tacos and even better Ceviche.

                                      1. kat_dew Oct 24, 2007 05:21 AM

                                        Went to Fresca's last night in Anaheim and had the fish taco (fried) and shrimp taco for dinner. The fish taco came out so hot I couldn't eat it for a little bit. And I have asbestos fingers. When I could eat it the batter was not cake on too much .. which I like and had really good flavors. The shrimp taco was good as well. The salsa bar was not great but ok.

                                        They only have locations in OC which is too bad since I live in the South bay and can't seem to get great mexican there..

                                        http://www.frescas.com/

                                        1. i
                                          Imperial476 Oct 24, 2007 08:36 AM

                                          I can't believe that no one has mentioned Benito's. I am new in town, but my opinion is valid due to my massive consumption of Mexican fare throughout the country. I have seen a few of these Benito's taquerias around town, but the only one I have gone to was the one on Fairfax and Beverly. They have amazing carne asada tacos. Very simple, overstuffed deliciousness.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Imperial476
                                            DiveFan Oct 24, 2007 03:52 PM

                                            Welcome to Chowhound!'

                                            Benito's might have a menu item that is superior to something you've had elsewhere, but this local chain is mediocre at best. Surprising they are known for their truly disgusting taquitos and *cough*"guacamole"*cough*. Please, just say NO.

                                            If you haven't already, check out the places in your area on the CH LA Mexican map posted above and on the Taco Hunt blog http://tacohunt.blogspot.com/ .

                                            1. re: DiveFan
                                              a_and_w Oct 24, 2007 04:09 PM

                                              Wow...I actually like the taquitos at Benito's!

                                              1. re: DiveFan
                                                DiveFan Oct 24, 2007 11:54 PM

                                                Well, to be honest the "guacamole" was the truly disgusting part. After confirming this, I choked down the taquitos with their salsa which IIRC wasn't much better.
                                                I think this chain targets clueless young students and late night boozers. My advice still applies :-).

                                                1. re: DiveFan
                                                  a_and_w Oct 25, 2007 08:02 AM

                                                  LOL! My friend who lives around the corner from Benito's says the same thing. But I'm neither a clueless student nor a late-night boozer, so that theory doesn't hold. The guacamole is admittedly thin, more like an avocado salsa than true guac. After living for several years in NYC, however, I can assure you that taquitos, guacamole, and fast food Mexican get a *lot* worse than Benito's.

                                                  That said, I agree it's anything but destination dining by LA standards. Fine for a late snack but not much more.

                                                  1. re: a_and_w
                                                    d
                                                    daniel7720 Oct 31, 2007 04:51 PM

                                                    Benitos is for one...heinous food and two...unsanitary. I wandered in one night with my friend and not only did the kitchen smell like a wet animal but the ice scoop had a cube stuck to it that the employee decided to bite off WITH HIS OWN TEETH when I walked away. I almost vomited right there--and no, not from the booze.

                                            2. n
                                              Newps Oct 25, 2007 09:47 AM

                                              I know these are smaller and harder to find, but i always rely on Taco Mesa (Costa Mesa, CA) and Great Mex (Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, CA)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Newps
                                                katkoupai Oct 25, 2007 01:02 PM

                                                I second Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa. :)

                                              2. n
                                                nishi Oct 25, 2007 01:39 PM

                                                Loteria in the Farmer's Market and Yuca's in Los Feliz.

                                                1. j
                                                  JBC Oct 25, 2007 01:47 PM

                                                  What part of L.A. is convient to you when your out foraging from/at/in mexican food establishments?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: JBC
                                                    f
                                                    Food Boy Nov 1, 2007 08:29 AM

                                                    Loteria is excellent, quality ingredients and great flavors. Farmers Market location is fun and festive, they are opening on Hollywood Blvd. in the spring of 08'.

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