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I miss Tia Juana

wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 02:24 PM

Ok so I am just curious if anyone has any recommondations for a good inexpensive sitdown mexican restaurant in the Santa Monica / West LA area. To give you an idea I used to love Tia Juana on Olympic. While the food wasn't spectacular it was solid with good family service, tasty margaritas and fresh tortillas. It wasn't a Friday or Saturday night place as much as somewhere great to relax on a work evening. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated

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  1. Servorg RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 02:33 PM

    Gilbert's El Indio on Pico in Santa Monica or Don Antonio's or The Talpa next door to each other also on Pico just west of Barrington or Paco's Tacos on Centinela just south of Washington.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Servorg
      whatsfordinner RE: Servorg Dec 4, 2007 06:22 PM

      It's my understanding that the same family that owned Tia Juana also owns Pacos Tacos, Gilbert's and either Lares or Talpa (can't recall which).

      1. re: whatsfordinner
        Frank_Santa_Monica RE: whatsfordinner Dec 4, 2007 09:08 PM

        I thought La Cabana is from the same owners.

    2. l
      LesThePress RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 02:34 PM

      Nearby from where TJ's was is Don Antonio's on Pico Blvd.

      I think it has nicer decor and the food is solid and not expensive. Their Margies are pretty good but no fresh made totillas unfortunately.

      Try it and report back.

      6 Replies
      1. re: LesThePress
        rancherostyl RE: LesThePress Dec 4, 2007 02:40 PM

        Don Antonio's?? Yick! Grab a margarita there if you have to then quickly walk next door to The Talpa.

        1. re: rancherostyl
          igj RE: rancherostyl Dec 4, 2007 02:53 PM

          Agreed. If you are looking for the family feel familiar to Tia Juana regulars, The Talpa is probably the best neighborhood option. I even like their agave wine margaritas (no tequila) but that seems to be a matter of some division.

          1. re: igj
            rancherostyl RE: igj Dec 4, 2007 03:23 PM

            And how can you beat that huge mural of the plane towing a Coors bottle from TJ?? Plus, the two sisters who've run the place forever always make me feel like I'm at my abuelita's house. Have to admit, though, those margaritas are a little...strange.

        2. re: LesThePress
          ElJeffe RE: LesThePress Dec 4, 2007 04:00 PM

          I love Don Antonio's enchiladas. But I find Gilbert's El Indio and Casablanca on Lincoln to be closest to what Tia Juana served (hand made tortillas right in front of you at Casablanca).

          Haven't been to La Talpa yet, all the people seem to be coming out of Don Antonio's. Is Talpa more of a lunch spot?

          1. re: ElJeffe
            carter RE: ElJeffe Dec 4, 2007 04:04 PM

            No, it is packed at dinner as well. I drive from Sherman Oaks to eat at the Talpa - has been there forever, and just as good in its old-fashioned way as ever. Never even walked into Don Antonio's in fact, and this after way many years.

            1. re: carter
              rancherostyl RE: carter Dec 4, 2007 04:26 PM

              Same here on all counts. The only problem with lunch is, once you've eaten, your day shot, it's nap time.

        3. r
          Renault78law RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 03:14 PM

          I'm fond of Lares.

          Lares Restaurant
          2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

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            Aunt Jenny RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 03:35 PM

            Tia Juana's is gone? Damn. Those fresh tortillas, the chile verde...

            1. DanaB RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 04:09 PM

              Third or fourth the suggestion of La Talpa. I've been going there since I was a kid. They have excellent guacamole and chips, and really tasty chicken soup.

              The only place I can think of on the westside that makes homemade tortillas like they had a Tia Juana is La Cabana in Venice, which also has good guac, chips and salsa, although I'm not as fond of their food in general as I was of Tia Juana's. At La Cabana I stick to their quesadillas for the most part.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DanaB
                hrhboo RE: DanaB Dec 4, 2007 04:10 PM

                Paco's Tacos and Casablanca make those tortillas too. My absolute favorite kind!

                1. re: DanaB
                  Servorg RE: DanaB Dec 4, 2007 04:11 PM

                  Paco's makes them fresh right in the restaurant too.

                2. Emme RE: wishiwasbond Dec 4, 2007 10:20 PM

                  Love Monte Alban.

                  Assuming you aren't interested in Tacos Por Favor or Tacomiendo.

                  1. m
                    mistertoast RE: wishiwasbond Dec 5, 2007 03:55 PM

                    Hmm? I did not know it was gone either. I have been going there since the mid '80s, when they had the Jai-Lai themed decor. It was always solid and dependable, and it use to be a great bargain for the portions as well (although not so much in recent years).

                    I hadn't been for a few years and then returned about 6 months ago. It was just shy of terrible. I was astonished as to how bad it was. Knowing how downhill it went makes me far less sad for its demise.

                    1. j
                      Jerome RE: wishiwasbond Dec 5, 2007 05:42 PM

                      most important, who in the neighborhood has certifiable fresh handmade tortillas like tia juana had?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jerome
                        ElJeffe RE: Jerome Dec 6, 2007 12:06 PM


                      2. l
                        LicketySplit RE: wishiwasbond Dec 5, 2007 05:50 PM

                        Tia Juana is gone? Oh, man.

                        For a similar vibe, you might want to check out El Texate on Pico, near 4th Street. Different menu (Oaxacan), and the prices might be higher than Tia Juana (RIP), but you can find budget-friendly options. And, it is a great place to relax and linger.

                        I like their no-nonsense margaritas, and the fact that they always seem to be open, and the unrushed experience. Outdoor patio if you want to sniff the beach air; darker interior dining areas if you prefer to hide from the sun.

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