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Help! Great Westside Mexican Restaurant

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Joan Winston Nov 4, 2000 10:58 AM

My daughter is coming to LA from New York Thanksgiving week with her husband and 3 1/2 year old son. She loves LA Mexican food. Does anybody know a great funky Mexican place on the west side? We recently had a bad experience at El Chollo, and we've been to Serenata de Garabaldi several times. Thanks!

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    julia RE: Joan Winston Nov 6, 2000 02:12 PM

    Well, if you want truly funky, try Lares (which I prefer to El Cholo any day of the week) on Pico, west of Centinela (next to Rae's) for great margaritas, fresh chips and strolling mariachis or Don Antonios, also on Pico, but east of Centinela, which has great salsa and a sparkly cave like interior. The seafood at these places isn't as good as Garibaldi, but they are something different!

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      Leslie Brenner RE: Joan Winston Nov 6, 2000 09:27 PM

      Hi, Mom! I'm so touched by this thread! Having no idea it was in reponse to something you posted, I happened to read the response first. I guess I didn't check Hot Posts that day. As anyone who knows me knows (and no one better than you) Mexican food is always my first order of business on arriving home--usually on the way from LAX. How many hours have we spent scouring Pico and Olympic Boulevards for uncharted carnitas? I was just thinking I should post a query, since we're due for a good score, and voilĂ , there was your post.

      My longtime sentimental favorite in that neighborhood is The Talpa. I know Lara's (not bad, but I prefer The Talpa's homier food), El Indio and Serenata--all on Pico. My old fave was a strip-mall storefront called El Cacique, almost across the street from Santa Monica College, but last spring when we tried to go, I found, much to my horror, that it had closed. I like the pozole and fish tacos at Mi Ranchito in Culver City.

      Please help my mom feed me Mexican food! I'd love to hear of other great westside Mexican finds--especially someplace with homemade tortillas...Thanks!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Leslie Brenner
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        david RE: Leslie Brenner Nov 6, 2000 09:42 PM

        i share your love for mexican food. i do have a suggestion, but before i do, i should say that i've never been to the talpa, lara's, or el indio. i have been to el cholo, border grill and two of the serenata restaurants. serenata has the best seafood, but has small portions, horrible service, and is weak on drinks. el cholo has great drinks but the food is average. border grill varies but is way too loud.

        my personal favorite is paco's tacos on centinela (near the corner of washington & centinela) across from bank of america. it is a family restaurant that is very crowded after 6. they make homemade flour & corn tortillas in the main seating area. the flour tortillas are excellent and always hot!

        as for entrees, i really love their chicken tacos (great sauce). i recommend the 2 chicken taco combo plate that comes with rice & beans & 2 flour tortillas. the portions are big. you won't be hungry when you leave.

        on the negative, the chips are just average.

        the place is festive (decorated to fit whatever holiday is nearby) but fairly small with a quick turnover to get as many people through. the food is brought out within minutes after ordering. it's great for a quick but enjoyable meal.

        1. re: david
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          Leslie Brenner RE: david Nov 8, 2000 12:37 PM

          Thanks for the ideas, all...

          By the way, David, last time we went to El Cholo, I ordered a margarita (not frozen, with salt), that was undrinkable. It tasted like pure margarita mix. Disgusting. In the past they had been pretty good.

          I'm not generally a fan of chicken tacos--have you tried other good ones at Paco's?

          And Larry, I'd love to hear your report on the fish taco's at Glorias when you go back. Do you know if the owners are Mexican or Salvadoran?

          1. re: Leslie Brenner
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            Bob Brooks RE: Leslie Brenner Nov 8, 2000 08:08 PM

            The Talpa was exactly what I was going to suggest...I love it!

            Another place you might well enjoy, which consistently gets good reviews is Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan restaurant at 11127 Palms. Its style is very authentic (they even serve roasted goat) and they're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

            Go for huevos rancheros in the morning and come back for the goat at dinner!

            1. re: Leslie Brenner
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              Cagey RE: Leslie Brenner Mar 7, 2001 11:57 AM

              >By the way, David, last time we went to El Cholo, I >ordered a margarita (not frozen, with salt), that was >undrinkable. It tasted like pure margarita mix. >Disgusting. In the past they had been pretty good.

              You are right on that one. I recently found out (at SM location) they are now using pre-mixed margaritas from a tank. A tank! While the tequila is still good, it is now a fizzy swill that, after 2 of them, will give you a sour belly like no one's business. Even the Cadillacs are less-than-stellar. I used to think these were the finest margaritas in LA. Someone ought to fill them in on the buzz, because the menu has been "tired" for a long time now.

              Cagey

          2. re: Leslie Brenner
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            Larry RE: Leslie Brenner Nov 7, 2000 08:37 PM

            Try Gloria's on Venice just East of Versailles. They have Salvadorian and Mexican food. So far I have tried a Birria plate, a fried fish (Tilapia) plate, pupusas and Horchata (Salvadorian) and all have been excellent. The fish was very moist and fresh unlike any place that I have ever had it before. They have all of the traditional fish soups and campachana too. For the Anglos they have the combo plates like chicken tacos, chile rellenos, chicken enchiladas. I will be trying the fish tacos on my next trip there.

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            Aaron Tell RE: Joan Winston Nov 9, 2000 02:39 PM

            A wonderful and underappreciated Mexican (Oaxacan) restaurant is Tlapazola Grill on Gateway off Barrington. Everything I have had there ahs been conistently yummy.
            For good margaritas and food another choice is Gilbert's in Santa Monica on Pico, near 26th street. It is more casual. Enjoy the food & the visit!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Aaron Tell
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              Bob Barnett RE: Aaron Tell Nov 10, 2000 01:15 AM

              "For good margaritas and food another choice is Gilbert's in Santa Monica on Pico, near 26th street. It is more casual. "

              Gilbert's El Indio has the best chips-and best carrots, anywhere! Open for $3.95 breakfast (includes kickass coffee) at 8 a.m.
              Plus you can get free VD shots right across the street at the Co Health Dept.

              1. re: Aaron Tell
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                Leslie Brenner RE: Aaron Tell Nov 10, 2000 09:07 PM

                Thanks! I think I've driven by Tlapazola Grill and wondered about it. Will check it out. What would you recommend there?

                We've been to Gilbert's (aka El Indio) a million times. I'm fond of it, but seeking something a little more, I don't know, gutsy.

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