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POQUITO MAS--WHY THE CROWD??

c
compucook Jan 14, 2008 10:49 PM

We had the misfortune of having a quick dinner at the West LA location tonight before our movie. I'd been before and didn't have extremely high expectations, just wanted decent fast food.
I eat at LaSalsa and also at Baja Fresh, but Poquito Mas' food was completely underseasoned, their tortillas were a doughy, heavy mess and the Studio Plate's lettuce was limp after being machine cut and had a tasteless nothing dressing. Their rice was plain white rice and their salsas were a joke. Also someone needs to teach the prep cooks how to chop an onion. Our guacamole had chunks that were huge! Totally unappetizing and tasteless.

Give me La Salsa or Baja anyday, although my current fave for Mexican chain fast food is LaSalsa.
Thanks for letting me rant!

  1. Snackish Mar 5, 2008 07:45 PM

    Quick, cheap, easy, and usually decent grub. Not chowhoundish, but serviceable.

    1. b
      bri760 Mar 4, 2008 07:15 PM

      Ohh, it was probably the trans fat of La Salsa or Baja that you were missing...

      1. b
        bophisto Jan 29, 2008 05:08 PM

        Poquito Mas isn't too bad I live near the West LA one. Family used to get it more often, but they almost always seems to mess up. The crowd does seem to be annoying though and it gets really loud in there. I guess it's appealing because it's relatively cheap, "healthy" , and sort of fast. Not really "authentic" Mexican food, but I do think it's generally better than La Salsa and Baja.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bophisto
          m
          mar52 Jan 29, 2008 08:37 PM

          Heard from someone that owns a few of the La Salsa franchises that The new owners of Baja Fresh also own La Salsa.

          Hope they don't become the same place.

          1. re: mar52
            c
            carter Jan 30, 2008 07:20 AM

            That is correct, in that David Kim bought La Salsa from Carl's Jr. and bought Baja Fresh from Wendy's. He is also a major franchisee of Cinnabon and Denny's!
            However, unless things change, it still appears that they will try to keep their separate identities as they expand.

        2. w
          WORX4FUDE Jan 29, 2008 10:53 AM

          Just a thought... ever tried Baja Buds? It has NEVER let me down. The burritos are GREAT and the Chicken Enchiladas are mouth-watering. Mmmmmm. And some JAMMIN salsa cruda. =)

          1 Reply
          1. re: WORX4FUDE
            s
            silverlakebodhisattva Jan 29, 2008 01:33 PM

            Well, I've been eating gringo-ized Mexican food in L.A. for 30+ years now, and I have a pretty good idea of how PM got their following, back when the Cahuenga Pass location was their ONLY location (BEFORE Baja Bud's opened on National, and before "La Salsa" was a mall food-court chain (they had a location on 6th near Commonwealth)).

            PM brought semi-real Mexican street food to the studio masses, in the days when taco trucks did not venture into that part of town much. Their salsas were tasty, and various. As a result, they did brisk biz, and developed a following; they also resisted expanding too quickly, and stayed in that location long after they outgrew the parking, which was sketchy from day one.

            I enjoyed many a meal there (I lived in LA and worked in the Valley for ten years, so they were "on the way home" for a long time). Every place mis-fires and serves a lousy meal every once in a while; I'm just way less unhappy if it's a $6 burrito than if it's a $40 organic heirloom whatsit with a farm-raised whosis gastrique.

            r gould-saltman

          2. h
            HollywoodLocal Jan 29, 2008 03:16 AM

            Poquito Mas is amazing. I would invest in it if I could. Granted, I have only been to the one on Sunset (I used to live nearby and ate there often). I am very picky and they have never messed up my food once. The staff is the friendliest I have ever seen at a counter-service restaurant. The food is great and fresh, reminds me of Baja Fresh back in the day before the Wendy's take over. Long live Poquito Mas! Only place that can compete IMO is Chipotle.

            7 Replies
            1. re: HollywoodLocal
              c
              carter Jan 29, 2008 10:31 AM

              Very well summarized!
              The rest of the competitors need not apply.

              1. re: carter
                c
                compucook Jan 29, 2008 10:40 AM

                I just don't see it, but maybe your location is better than the WLA site.

                1. re: compucook
                  n
                  nosh Jan 29, 2008 10:55 AM

                  It is an interesting marketing psychology. The W.L.A. branch on Westwood at Olympic is in a big, fairly new minimall complex with lots of parking. The Poquito Mas there never seems overly crowded, and the pace of the cooking and maintaining the salsa bar and cleaning the tables is very relaxed. The location closer to Studio City has very limited parking, the smaller space is packed to the gills, and there is energy there. I'm not so sure objectively that the food is much better or even better at all, but it sure seems like you are at a much more popular, happening place.

                  1. re: nosh
                    j
                    jlq3d3 Jan 29, 2008 11:52 AM

                    I've been there when its crowded many times, even though it is larger than the valley location.

                    1. re: jlq3d3
                      Servorg Jan 29, 2008 12:33 PM

                      We just went the other night after this thread got me to thinking about it. I had the scampi burrito with rice. The filling was good, but the tortilla was just barely passable, (as is the case with most of the multiple location type places).

                      But their salsa bar is the best, hands down, of any of the chain places here in LA. They have some real heat in the salsas and have a great smokey flavor thing going on in one of the red ones as well. I didn't think to ask them if they have whole wheat tortillas like Baja Bud's. Does anyone know if they do?

              2. re: HollywoodLocal
                w
                WORX4FUDE Jan 29, 2008 10:54 AM

                Mmmm, yeah, don't know where you live, but I just stumbled upon one down in Marina del Rey!!! STOKED!!!

                1. re: HollywoodLocal
                  a_and_w Jan 30, 2008 06:40 AM

                  Chipotle?! There are so many better burritos to be had in LA...

                2. mushky Jan 20, 2008 11:35 AM

                  I tend to agree with you about Poquito Mas but I was recently turned on to their Shrimp Scampi Burrito. It is so good that I would rank it in my top 5 fast food favorites however it is as far away from authentic mexican food as one could get.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mushky
                    s
                    sherpa50 Jan 20, 2008 08:28 PM

                    The white rice is served on the Studio Plate only which is kind of a diet dish, I believe. They have Spanish rice, which is a little undersalted for me, but has a good amount of tomatoes, onions & a little potato in it.

                    I think their pinto beans are good, & I like the tortillas. But to each his own; I would never go to Baja Fresh or La Salsa unless there was no other choice.

                  2. s
                    scoot Jan 19, 2008 05:42 PM

                    Poquito Mas is a good fall-back place when you're short on time and aren't feeling super imaginative or adventurous. Sure, the salsas aren't "hot," but who cares? They have a great taste, and there is a big variety. Some of their salsa "flavors" I have never seen anywhere else. The food is very fresh, is not greasy or laden with taco-tuck/"authentic joint" gristle, and they make the totrillas right there! And they serve beer.....which Baja Fresh (owned by Wendy's, right...?) and La Salsa do not.

                    My only complaint is all the kids. The place feels like Chuck E Cheese - at least the Westwood branch does. (Less of a problem in N Hollywood or on Sunset....)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scoot
                      c
                      carter Jan 20, 2008 10:08 AM

                      Wendy's sold Baja Fresh about 18 months ago, and BF is better off for it.
                      As to the "hot" factor, not everyone appreciates that ssensation, and thus more varieties. And, yes, the fresh factor is very high. I still think PM is the best of the genre, while Rubio's and La Salsa are at the other end of the spectrum. Chipotle is actually quite good as well.

                    2. c
                      chowchi1 Jan 15, 2008 03:49 PM

                      For fast-food, Americanized Mexican, I prefer Poquito Mas over Baja Fresh and La Salsa. The tortillas at PM are more authentic (thicker, fresher masa) than the tasletess, limp tortillas at the other two places. I agree the seasoning leaves a little to be desired but it is overall fresher and healthier, including the black beans. La Salsa is flavorless.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: chowchi1
                        c
                        compucook Jan 15, 2008 11:10 PM

                        You must not have had the crap that they passed off as tortillas last night! I cannot believe anyone would find them superior to the average tortilla you buy at Ralph's! th ONLY thing that was better than LaSalsa or Baja was their chips. Texture and taste were way better.
                        Can't speak about the beans, I don't care for them, but DH didn't finish them. The rice was a disgrace---plain white rice in a mexican joint?

                        1. re: compucook
                          a
                          AGENT FOODIE Jan 16, 2008 01:28 AM

                          there is a poquito mas nearby where i live, though not the one the Op wrote about, but i have always wondered what was so good about it. the foods expensive and not qll that great. good thing there is a rubios nearby which while not true authentic is much better and cheaper.

                        2. re: chowchi1
                          c
                          Clyde Jan 16, 2008 08:47 AM

                          i agree. i would eat at poquito mas over baja fresh and la salsa anytime. the tortillas taste great to me. i always get the veggie burrito and it's always been great. perhaps i'd feel differently about it if i ate something other than that.

                        3. n
                          nosh Jan 15, 2008 12:15 PM

                          I just am not interested in Poquito Mas, Baja Fresh, Rubio's, or the like anymore. We are fortunate in every area of L.A. to have access to good taquerias, each with their own little quirks and strengths. In W.L.A. near where you ate, my favorite is the relatively new El Super Taco, on Santa Monica Blvd. at Brockton. Tacos are just over a buck, the al pastor and carnitas have been very good, the carne asada usually but inconsistent. The quirk is they serve grilled onions with the tacos. The highlight there is the orangeish habanero salsa on their salsa bar, marked VERY hot, and fantastic mixed in with their salsa roja.

                          In Santa Monica I like Tacos Por Favor, on Olympic at 14th. Large tacos for just under $2, and a good smoky, spicy salsa roja. Further south in Culver City is Taqueria Sanchez, with their wonderful, unique shrimp tacos. A lot of people on these boards like Eduardo's or Tacomiendo, but with tacos topping $2, they are up there with the mass chains.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: nosh
                            d
                            DeLobster Jan 15, 2008 12:43 PM

                            as per usual, Nosh pretty much nailed it again. just like to say that Taco Don Jorge finally opened at Cattaraugus and Venice after working out of a truck for what seems like forever. the asada is very tasty, but unfortunately the carnitas are not roasted which makes true carnitas.

                            1. re: DeLobster
                              c
                              compucook Jan 15, 2008 02:09 PM

                              Phew, glad to know that I'm not the only one! Don't know about El Super Taco, that's very close by my office, I'll check it out. Chipotle was too hot for me, and I'm not a big burrito fan. But DH would love shrimp tacos! His current fave is Taco Miendo, but the Culver City location. I've not been, so can't comment.

                            2. re: nosh
                              w
                              Wolfgang Mar 5, 2008 10:29 AM

                              Nosh, have you tried the little taco joint across the street from El Super Taco? It's on the south side of Santa Monica Blvd. I can't remember the name but remember seeing it the last two times I went to Monte Alban.

                              1. re: Wolfgang
                                a_and_w Mar 5, 2008 10:42 AM

                                That would probably be Pili's. It's OK but not as good as El Super Taco, Monte Alban, or Taco Plus. Competition in the immediate vicinity is actually pretty fierce...

                            3. a
                              aventinus Jan 15, 2008 09:20 AM

                              agreed. it's a waste of calories, i'd rather go hungry. definitely prefer baja fresh, much prefer chipotle. prefer taco bell.

                              1. annagranfors Jan 15, 2008 08:49 AM

                                I useta love going to Poquito Mas on Magnolia in the late 80s/early 90s when I worked close by. one of the counter guys taught me how to say "planchadas" when I ordered carnitas--they'd throw it back on the grill and get it nice and crispy.

                                but to be honest, in comparison to practically any ol' taco truck, they ain't so suchamuch. (and I *really* wish the Olive St. PM was a Wiener Factory like it useta be back then, now that the Sherman Oaks WF's closed.)

                                oy, I'm getting old. :)

                                1. j
                                  jlq3d3 Jan 14, 2008 11:02 PM

                                  Poquito Mas has a better and more extensive salsa bar than Baja Fresh.

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: jlq3d3
                                    Servorg Jan 15, 2008 06:36 AM

                                    I also find PM's salsa bar to be far superior to Baja Fresh. The food at either place is not exactly cutting edge Mexican, but it's generally tasty. Another place near the WLA PM location that has gotten some quite good reports here is Eduardo's, on Westwood Blvd. just south of Santa Monica Blvd. in the little mini mall next to the car wash on the east side of the street.

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      c
                                      compucook Jan 15, 2008 07:35 AM

                                      Granted the salsa bar was more extensive. Taste-wise the salsas were TOTALLY lacking in the heat dept and I'm a wuss! I've seen Eduardo's, we'll have to give it a try.

                                      1. re: Servorg
                                        b
                                        Bria Silbert Jan 15, 2008 08:36 AM

                                        I like Eduardo's - also like Baja Bud's on National and Sepulveda with another branch on Wilshire and Granville.

                                        1. re: Bria Silbert
                                          w
                                          WORX4FUDE Jan 29, 2008 10:57 AM

                                          I'm with Bria... Eduardo's has been there for like 20 years, and I can't remember having a bad meal. The kinda place where you can TASTE the fire that touched the chicken. Mmmm. And yes, Baja Buds is FAAAAAAANTASTIC - say hi to Alex at the National spot.

                                          1. re: WORX4FUDE
                                            a_and_w Feb 1, 2008 11:34 AM

                                            Interesting...there's a Baja Bud's less than a mile from me but I've never been. If I can't go all the way to Eduardo's, I usually hit Taco Plus on Bundy. But I'm a big Eduardo's fan, so I'll have to give Baja Bud's a try, especially since you say the chicken is so good. I've been consistently disappointed by the chicken at LA taquerias with the lone exception of Eduardo's.

                                            1. re: a_and_w
                                              a_and_w Feb 2, 2008 11:37 AM

                                              Tried Baja Bud's -- that's a damn fine burrito! Eduardo's is still king of the west side for me, but there are many things to like about BB, especially since it's so close to me. Excellent pollo asado. If only they (and Eduardo's) would serve al pastor...

                                              Anyway, thanks for the rec, Bria Silbert and WORX4FUDE.

                                            2. re: WORX4FUDE
                                              h
                                              hippodeir Mar 5, 2008 08:24 AM

                                              another vote for baja bud's--excellent food, super reasonable, and so good...

                                              1. re: hippodeir
                                                Servorg Mar 5, 2008 08:26 AM

                                                Their food is good (although the regular tortillas are pretty blah / but I always get the whole wheat ones now) but their salsa bar is the pits.

                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                  a_and_w Mar 5, 2008 10:41 AM

                                                  The salsa bar is not great but not the worst I've seen. At least they have salsa fresca, which also goes on the burritos -- that's key. What is it about the whole wheat that appeals to you? I don't love the tortillas either, so I ask them to grill it a little longer if there's no line.

                                                  1. re: a_and_w
                                                    Servorg Mar 5, 2008 11:17 AM

                                                    They don't taste like (what I imagine) stiff cardboard, (and the other regular tortillas) tastes like.

                                              2. re: WORX4FUDE
                                                h
                                                hippodeir Mar 5, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                btw, is there an eduardo's (or anything comparable) on the east-side? (grove/west hollywood area)?

                                            3. re: Servorg
                                              a_and_w Jan 29, 2008 09:16 AM

                                              Eduardo's in the bomb. A word to the wise, however -- make sure you ask them to wrap your burrito in foil. They grill the tortillas, which is great but often causes the burrito to break.

                                              1. re: a_and_w
                                                Servorg Mar 5, 2008 08:38 AM

                                                I notice that Eduardo's has a nice website, (albeit without prices):

                                                http://www.eduardosbordergrill.com/1/

                                                Now they just need to add a few more locations.

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