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Best authentic Mexican food in LA?

Hi! I'm visiting my sister in LA in two weeks and after living in Miami for the last five months I am DYING for some real Mexican food. I know about El Chollo, and have been there many time. I love the green corn tamales, but this trip, I'm looking for basics: I want luscious carnitas, carne asada with chopped onions, fresh cilantro and a squirt of lime juice, refried beans and homemade chips (bring on the lard!), and hopefully fresh made tortillas. Now that the recent "taco cart ban" appears to have been overturned, I'd like to help support some of the best that LA has to offer - or smaller, "mom & pop" type restaurants where I will be happy to struggle with my meager Spanish if no one speaks English.

Suggestions? I have a week and will be perfectly happy if I eat Mexican food every day.

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  1. See how much of this list you can get through in a week (and please report back if you are still alive at the end): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540566

    1. Try exploring Pacific Blvd. (between Slauson and Florence avenues) in the city of Huntington Park and you'll find "mom & pop" Mexican joints to your heart's delight.

      1. York Blvd between the 2 and the 110 is also pretty thick with great eats - your meager Spanish will come in handy. Here's a recent thread on El Huarache Azteca...


        1. I'm surprised no one's recommended Babita yet, although I prefer the more gringo-ized Paco's. The OP's cravings sound more like Paco's anyway.

          1. Here's the place,
            this location only:
            11127 Palms Blvd
            Los Angeles, CA 90034
            (310) 837-1153

            order out of your comfort zone and share it all:
            Clayuda, Chix Taquitos, Guac, Chiles de Agua,
            Chix Tamale wrapped in Banana Leaf,
            Red Mole Enchiladas, Chorizo,
            no tequila so have a cold Pacifico cerveza and the Agua Fresca of the day.
            Eat only at this location!

            1 Reply
            1. re: NumeroUnoEat

              May I ask why you prefer the Palms location?

            2. Who wrote that thread on Lenexico. They had some great finds, anyone?

              1 Reply
              1. re: JEN10

                Thanks Jen10, glad you liked it! Since the OP liked El Cholo and the many trips there, which is Mexican-American style food, perhaps the Tex-Mex Don Rogelio's in Lennox would fit well.

                As Sevorg posted, there is serious started by EatNopal of authentic Mexican restaurants in LA that should be utilized.But, finding luscious carnitas and carne asada in LA is illusive.Great Mexican carne asada comes from the northern states of Sonora,Sinaloa, and Chihuahua. Even the best places for carne in nearby TJ, Guadalajara and D.F. get their beef from Sonora. We have no such luck here, and carne asada is about the least interesting Mexican offering LA can put forth.La Casita in Bell does carnes like cecina, carne asada, and the Conquista plate, with nopal, guajillo chile sauce, and Oaxacan cheese.Have your carne here and experience a simple "alta cocina" served in a neighborhood with an ostensibly Mexican and local clientele.They serve classic regional dishes.

                While here, take advantage of the Mexican cuisine that is done well in LA.This is my 2 centavos. For that you can scour EatNopals list, minus the El Coyote and Tere's.

                For street food, Breed St. just north of Cesar Chavez on a Sunday after 7PM.The best.Get sopes, huaraches, gorditas, pambazos, and quesadillas preparadas at Nina's.Next to the Big Buy Foods parking lot.

              2. Not to cavil, but "authentic" Mexican food ranges far wider than carnitas/carne asada/frijoles refritos. Mexico is a huge and diverse country, with many, many styles of food -- some of which you might not even recognize as "Mexican" if you have not been exposed to it. Food from the Yucutan, for example, or west-coast seafood, or the whole amazing range of Oaxacan food. Speaking of Oaxacan: I will always recommend Monte Alban (Santa Monica Bv. near Barrington), a remarkable and quite inexpensive Oaxacan restaurant. Try one of the excellent moles, or -- my particular favorite -- barbacoa de chiva, a succulent chunk of braised goat served in a dense, red, spicy but not hot broth, served with tortillas a couple or three things to mix into the broth. The goat is sweet, never gamy (not in my experience, anyway), and always wonderful. And very, very Mexican.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ozhead

                  Does Monte Alban also have kid -- cabrito?

                  1. re: Mel Gee

                    Nope... not in the sense of Monterrey style Cabrito... I am not aware of any formal restaurant in L.A. that offers it. The caveat is formal... because in the Montebello / South El Monte area along the San Gabriel River there is small goat farm owned by regiomontanos... everymorning they get a line of people showing up for warm goat milk... some people have it on the spot in a various guises... other people buy for making cheeses. They also raise Kid for sale (which most people buy for Birria)... and when they don't have any buyers they roast it up Monterrey style and they make a fabulous Chiltepin salsa, good Frijoles Charros and hand made flour tortillas... to eat at their small ranch or to go.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Do you have a name or address on this goat farm?

                      1. re: Professor Salt

                        I don't think they have permits... so I am not going to "throw them under the bus" on a public site. But email me....

                2. El Abajeno on Inglewood and Culver Blvd. You don"t go for the ambiance, you go for the food!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pamm5959


                    Good to know. I drive by El Abajeno all that time and have never stopped in for a bite to eat. What are some of your favorite dishes? Thanks in advance.

                  2. Babita. It's not what you might be thinking of as far as mexican food (no burritos, tacos) but it is real mexican food and it is amazing.

                    1. basic and good: truck on lincoln just south(?) of rose, west side of street. hope it's still there. has some of the basics you're looking for, most notably very solid carne asada tacos.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: la tache burger

                        That's La Oaxaquena parked on Lincoln in the PM...