Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Jun 1, 2008 02:23 PM

Tex Mex - for Real? With Queso.

Okay, as a long-time Texan from Austin now living permanently in Los Angeles, I am constantly jonesing for cheesy, gooey Tex Mex. I'm talking the kind that has Chili Con Queso on the menu. If you're from Texas or have ever visited, you'll know what I mean. Now I can make some decent queso and Tex Mex myself, but I miss sitting down for an awesome meal at my local greasy taco joint. Any ideas?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Many "greasy taco joints," but they're usually a different item from the Texas brand, as you note. Cheese comes directly from Heaven, so what are these people, atheists? And there's certainly no Matt's out here, although your question might surface some disgusting slender pretender in a strip mall. (If so, enter the parking lot carefully, because I'll likely be speeding over within minutes of the posting!)

    The closest Abuelo's is in Phoenix, which has three of them, actually, so you and Tyrone Shoelaces may need to jump on the 10. Abuelo's is a fairly recent addition to Austin. It's a national chain -- big, handsome, busy faux-Mex-looking places that offer reasonably priced, delicious Mexican food (especially the house plate that includes filet mignon, bacon-wrapped shrimp, chili con queso, etc.). Going in, you might resign yourself to another Chevy's; coming out, you're happy and Texan.

    Now, if you were homesick for La Fonda San Miguel or similar high-end Austin eatery, then Los Angeles has several typically California takes on that great cuisine: Babita's (Babita Mexicuisine in San Gabriel), La Serenata de Garibaldi (Boyle Heights location only), La Casita (CenadurĂ­a La Casita Mexicana in Bell), etc. None compares to La Fonda when it's up and cookin', but they're all excellent, if you get tired of chili con queso. Search this board for reviews and details and other suggestions for the high end.

    P.S. At Abuelo's I always start with their good chicken tortilla soup. I place my bowl of chili con queso so that lifting a chip to mouth drips some of the cheese into the soup. Need I say more? We HAVE to get the Abuelo's people to put a location in Los Angeles. The most-similar restaurant out here is probably El Cholo -- great places for drinking and mingling but mediocre food, IMHO.

    1. This comes up from time to time and I don't know that there are a ton of options, but you could try Marix Tex Mex (WeHo and SaMo canyon), although the food isn't amazing. Very tasty seasonal mango margaritas, though. I also think that the food at Pink Taco is surprisingly tasty and I noticed last time I was there they had queso on the menu.

      1. I lived in Austin for many years and boy do I miss the tex mex and Fonda San Miguel. You could try Marix Tex Mex in West Hollywood. Its fairly close to the Austin style places, but it can get pretty scene-y and crowded at night. We like to go for a hungover brunch.

        2 Replies
        1. re: LarcyBScott

          Thanks for the responses. I've tried Marix, and I found it a little disappointing. While you're right and they do a Queso, there is something off about it. The consistancy is wrong. There is a place down in Manhattan Beach that comes close. A chain called Cozymel's. They have okay queso, but the food is just okay also. If Pink's has it now, that could be interesting. I do like their tacos. Somehow, nowhere is ever quite like the Tex Mex we Texans all love so much. But I hold out hope. I really do. At some point, someone will realize we need this in LA. And yes, I would sign a petition to get an Abuelos. Or a Matt's? Hula Hula? Anything...

          1. re: kelham

            The only consistent Tex-Mex place in town is Taste of Texas in Covina, which is practically a Texas embassy. No queso fundido, but very fine guisado, fajitas, chicken-fried steak, etc, and Texas-style barbecue that is better than good. Migas and barbacoa for breakfast. And now that the Lakers are through the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs swag on the walls is almost tolerable again.

        2. i get my fix at On The Border in Rancho Cucamonga. It is a chain and it has never been my favorite tex mex, but it works in a pinch.

          I would also sign on for an Abuelos. It is a regular stop when I go back home.

          1. Sadly, as another former Austin resident, I must report the pickings are terribly slim. Marix is barely functionaly though I find the Santa Monica Canyon location does a little better. Believe it or not, the On the Border version is the one I go to when I really need the fix. It won't be the best you've ever had (I'm missing Guero's myself) but it will a faithful representation of what you remember.

            Unfortunately, there are surprising devides in the Mexican and Mexican influenced food you find in Texas vs. California--or AZ/NM--for that matter. Each place has such a long history of this cuisine truly regional tendencies have developed. Some are cuisine related and some are just different preferences that have taken over. For instance, have you noticed that Texas is all about the breakfast taco whereas California is all about breakfast burrito?

            If you find some good melted cheese with rotelle let us know!!!!