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Advice on Mexican and Japanese Spots

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My wife and I are going to be visiting L.A. with our kids in the near future (11 year old boys) and would love recommendations for a good Mexican restaurant and a good Japanese restaurant. We are staying in Beverly Hills and will have a car.

I have read a lot of the posts on these topics and frankly my head is swimming with all of the divergent views. For Mexican, I have seen many recommendations for Babita. I know it is a little out of the way, but as luck would have it, on one of the days of our trip, we will be in Claremont so I thought we might be able to hit Babita for dinner that night on the way back to L.A. Does that make sense logistically? Other Mexican places that many seem high on include Monte Alban and Tlapazola Grill. Could all of you Mexican food experts out there please weigh in on this?

As for Japanese, I'm not sure I'm up for the Nobu/Matsuhisa thing -- while they look great, not sure it will be worth the expense for us given that the kids may not have a sufficient appreciation for the style. A friend recommended Koi as an alternative. I know that it is very trendy and the food generally not as good as the Nobu places, but I thought the kids would enjoy the buzz, people-watching aspect while at the same time getting good Japanese cuisine. Any thoughts on this or any other Japanese place that we should consider?

Many thanks.

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  1. Logistically, hitting Babita on the way back from Claremont seems like a good idea. Just so you understand, though, Babita doesn't serve common Mexican offerings like burritos, tacos or fajitas. With some 11 year-olds, you tell them they're having Mexican food and that's what they'll expect. As long as you have that in mind, Babita is a fine choice. I've included a link to Babita's menu.

    http://www.zagat.com/Verticals/Menu.a...

    1. Monte Alban is great, as is Gilbert's El Indio.

      Avoid Koi, unless you're looking for overpriced, mediocre sceney sushi. If you want scene, go to Katana or Katsuya or Kumo, for at least decent sushi.

      For Japanese, try Musha in Santa Monica.