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May 31, 2000 12:01 PM

Border Grill

  • c

I will be in L.A. next month for a birthday celebration and am planning on going to Border Grill. Any menu suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I went there a few months ago and I was very disappointed in the fish tacos, so I wouldn't order those. The other thing I ordered was excellent, but I don't remember what it was called. Maybe it was cornmeal empanadas filled with black beans. That was amazing. And the guacamole is terrific. Enjoy.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Liz

      Yes, skip the fish tacos! Anything past the appetizers I have a hard time remembering because those margaritas are so damn good. But... the ceviche we had rocked - the fish changes daily. And they had a special with Fanny Bay oysters that made me want to cry, or french kiss. What I was really taken aback by though was the vegetable chilequiles - they were great, lots of flavor and not monotonous like some vegetable entrees can be, with layers of saucy soggy chips, crema, cheese and veggies. Another dish I've had that was nice was the fish in the wine broth. The greatest thing (besides the aforementioned delicious dishes, of course) about Border Grill is that it's fun. And if those margaritas put you in a dancing mood, you can always stagger across the street to Harvelle's to shuffle your feet to some live blues.

      1. re: laura

        Border Grill is, in my opinion, vastly overrated and way too loud. The food is over-produced and left a taste in my mouth that made me want to cry, but definitely not want to french kiss anybody. Go to Mexico City instead!

        1. re: Petey

          I assume you are talking about Mexico City the overrated Los Feliz restaurant, which isn't a canker sore on the rosy behind of Border Grill. My apologies if you are talking about Mexico City the metropolis, which is indeed home to some tasty Mexican food.

          1. re: Pepper

            Another Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger groupie, are we? The food at Border Grill is overpriced and is no more Mexican than Al Gore. It is a nice place to go if you don't want to hear what your dinner companion has to say, however. I'd rather eat authentic Mexican dishes than eat Mary Sue's and Susans personal "california interpretations" of Mexican served on beautiful retro dishes. Just my humble opinion.

            1. re: Petey

              I have, I confess, enjoyed Mary Sue and Susan's food since the days of the original City Cafe on Melrose. And I miss the wonderful tongue stew they used to do at the original Border Grill, which is the best dish they have ever done.But I have also eaten in several hundred Mexican restaurants in the Los Angeles area, and I truly think Border Grill has some of the best food--and is far more ``authentic'' than, say, places like La Serenata or Tamayo that inflect their food with a sheen of Swiss- hotel-school-style technique. I may spend more time at Ciro's or Chalio, but I find Border Grill extremely Mexican. And I wish that chefs like Zarela Martinez or even Rick Bayless could turn out food even half as good.

              1. re: Pepper

                You guys crack me up. I love it! It's great to hear everyone's strong and stubborn opinions. I have to admit that I've had pleasurable meals at Mexico City and Border Grill and even La Serenata (gasp! call me the diplomat), although none is better than some of the great street food I've had in Mexico. And I have to admit that they all are slightly overrated. You could go into any of them with high expectations due to their hype and be disappointed. Anyway, that said, please keep dishing (no pun intended - well...) out your thoughts and opinions - it opens everyone up to new ways to think and things to try.

                1. re: Pepper
                  Tom Armitage

                  It would be interesting to challenge those who think that the only "authentic" Mexican food is that cooked by Mexicans in Mexico to a blind taste test. My prediction is that they would not be able to distinguish between food cooked by Mexicans in Mexico and food cooked by knowledgeable and skilled non-Mexican cooks in the U.S.A. I first learned the skills of Mexican cooking from a non-Mexican, Diana Kennedy, and certainly cannot say that what I learned from her is inferior in any way to what I have since learned from Mexican cooks.

                  I've had some terrific meals at Border Grill, and it matters not a whit to me that Mary Sue and Susan are not "real" Mexicans. The only thing I'd take issue with is Pepper's statement: "And I wish that chefs like Zarela Martinez or even Rick Bayless could turn out food even half as good." I agree that, on the whole, the food at Zarela's restaurant isn't as good as the food at Border Grill, but I happen to think that Rick Bayless produces food every bit as good, and often even better, that that produced under the direction of Mary Sue and Susan.

                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                    Hmmm... back on the sublect of "authentic" - who and what is authentic and why is it important? I wholeheartedly agree that you don't have to be a native to cook a certain cuisine masterfully and inventively.

                    However, I went to Frontera Grill with a group that thinks Bayless is God. Except for one appetizer, we were all fairly disappointed (maybe we should have splurged for Topolobampo?)- perhaps it was a bad night in the kitchen? Perhaps our expectations were too high? I think that may have been it. Either that or the January wind had frozen my tastebuds!

                    1. re: laura

                      The half-dozen or so times I've eaten Bayless' food, almost every dish has hit the same note of sweet-smoky-hot, which makes a good first impression but soon enough begins to be cloying. He's like a musician who can only play loud.

                      1. re: Pepper
                        Tom Armitage

                        "almost every dish has hit the same note of sweet-smoky-hot"

                        All I can say is that, as interesting as is your comment, that's not been my experience with Bayless's cooking. I'm remembering a quesadilla de huitlacoches that I had at Topolobambo that was neither sweet, nor smoky, nor particularly hot. It was delicately seasoned to accent, but not overpower, the unique taste of the huitlacoches. I've experienced a broader range of tastes than your comment suggests is possible. However, I've not been to either Topo or Frontera since last November, and I don't know how active Bayless is these days in overseeing the kitchens at his restaurants. I'll keep your interesting perspective in mind when I visit Chicago again this coming November.

      2. At Border Grill, the must-order items are the green-corn tamales and the panuchos (Yucatan-style fried tortillas split and filled with black beans), plus maybe the the made-to-order guacamole as appetizers; the rock shrimp with toasted anchos and maybe the grilled turkey as entrees, although specials often pop up, and the carpetbag steak is pretty good. If you are visiting from taco-less regions, feel free to try a taco plate, but it really isn't the restaurant's strength.

        1. The appetizer that my wife likes is the Plantains Stuffed with Black Beans. I like the mini tacos. The taco rajas is good as well as carnitas and potato tacos. The rock shrimp Ceviche is very good too. If you want authentic Mexican food then this is not it but it is an amazing simulation. For the real stuff go to Guelaguetza, La Cabana, Taco Sanchez (not for a party), and Cora's; on the Westside. There are hundreds more in East LA. Susan and Mary Sue took dishes that these restaurants serve and gentrified them to make them more approachable to the masses.