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Babita, or other suggestions for b'day dinner?

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I have never been to Babita, but have read about it on this site and I'm looking forward to trying it. Here are my two questions:

1. Is Babita the best choice for good Mexican for a birthday dinner? Or does anyone have other suggestions (for Mexican), as I hear that Babita does not have much of an ambiance. I would prefer good food in a nice setting as I'm taking a friend out for her birthday.

2. What dishes stand out at Babita (I know there are some older posts about this, but I'm wondering if there are any more recent suggestions).

Many thanks to all.

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  1. It's a small dining room, with not a lot going on as far as decor or mood lighting. The food has never disappointed me, although I probably haven't been there in about a year. I don't think the menu has changed much, if at all, so older recommendations are likely still valid.

    That said, it might not be the best choice for your friend's b-day if food isn't the only consideration.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jack Flash

      Re the menu at Babita. You should call and ask, as the daily specials will change with what's in season.

      My first choice would be Babita, but if you wanted a bit more ambiance I would try Chichen Itza.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I have an old copy of their lunch menu but I presume it does change.

        Has anyone tried the fried, dried beef machaca (i think jgold mentioned it glowing in the list of 99 great la restaurants)?

        their fax is 626.288.7265, fax em and they'll send a menu over.

        it's a tiny, homey place, sort of a hushed atmosphere, but the food is terrific.

        chichen itza is also awesome, forgto about that, and interestingly enough both babita and chichen have that habanero salsa.

        if you go to babita, the shrimp tobpolbampo, which is beyond hot should always be on the menu.

        1. re: kevin

          Babita's room is cozy and fine, tableclothes as I recall, shold not be problem. I wasn't wild about my dinner there, which included their much lauded chile en nogaea (I think I am not with the majority on this opinion).

          I personally like the food at La Casita Mexicana in Bell better, with emphasis on the chile en nogada (others like Babita's chile en nogada better). La Casita has nifty 3-D vegetable mural coming out of the walls and is more colorful. Note that I have not been to La Casita for dinner (just at breakfast and lunch time) but I'd imagine it would be just as charming at night.

          I've had good meals at La Seranata, which has a lovely dining room and is probably the best decor wise of the three, but the food on the Pico branch is not equivalent

          -----
          La Casita Mexicana
          4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

          La Serenata De Garibaldi
          1842 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033

    2. I go to Babita quite often. Standout dishes are chile en nogada (seasonal), chile relleno with crab, and chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. They are truly best in class. In general, I have not like their specials. The only exception is the chile en nogada. Chile en nogada is more of an acquired taste. The dish is quite sweet and not everyone enjoys it.

      I would recommend staying away from their proteins though. I didn't enjoy their steak, beef cheeks, pork chops, or scallops. You can find much better at American restaurants.

      3 Replies
      1. re: eu4ria03

        They did a lamb shank when I went to Babita that was terrific, yet the chile relleno that a dinner companion had was the hit of the night, and it was truly sensational. Do not remember the details, except we still talk about returning there to have it again.

        1. re: carter

          One thing to note about Babita ... service can sometimes be very slow. Dishes can come out of the kitchen at a pace that can rival watching molasses drip on a cold Vermont winter morning.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. I will report back after our dinner on Saturday night.