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Best Mexican in East LA?

I am making a rare trip out to East LA and beyond (to Riverside) and am dying to have great Mexican food for lunch. Is there a signature place that I should definitely visit and/or a signature meal? I'm open to everything, don't care about atmosphere, just want great food. Thanks!

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  1. One possibility, If you like moles, is a place in East LA that has gotten a lot of good reporting here and is very unique. Nice photo in this LA Times review and if you go to the place link and scroll down you can read the reviews on CH as well. We have not been so can't tell you personally how it is.

    http://www.latimes.com/theguide/resta...

    http://www.moleslatia.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      Whoops - forgot the place link in my post. Here it is.

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      Moles La Tia
      4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

    2. Someone will inevitably mention El Tepeyac, but from what the owner of Ciro's down the street told me-- El Tepeyac is California Mexican. I like it for what it is, although in the last several months its become somewhat expensive for what it is.

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      Ciro's
      705 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

      El Tepeyac Cafe
      812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

      1. Thanks for the suggestions guys. What do you think about King Taco or Tacos Baja Ensenada? These seem like institutions but does the food hold up?

        2 Replies
        1. re: sparkyk

          Baja Ensenada would be great. If you are looking for a place that has a wider menu selection and has really good food then I also suggest Teresitas Restaurant.

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          Tacos Baja Ensenada
          5385 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

          Teresitas
          3826 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

          1. re: sparkyk

            No, King Taco never impressed me except for their Seso... Seso done fast food style is actually how it should be done. But it's hardly a dish for everyone...

            As for Tacos Baja... it is a TREASURE... nuff said...

            --Dommy!

            1. If you're headed out to Riverside anyway you could eat lunch at Babita... mmmm, Babita.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Silly me, I didn't realize Babita is open for lunch. Same menu? Yum!

              2. La Serenata de Garibaldi is the signature place in my book, especially for Mexican seafood. We always take out-of-towners there, and they love it. For more Mexican home cooking, I'd second Servorg's suggestion of Teresitas-- great place.

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

                Teresitas
                3826 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90063

                6 Replies
                1. re: dunnbates

                  Hey Colleen. Try Moles La Tia. It will make you want to throw rocks at La Serenata, which tends to feel pretty assembly line.

                  1. re: condiment

                    Thanks-- it's on my get-to list now!

                    1. re: condiment

                      condiment, an "assembly line" conjures the image of workers mindlessly putting together prosaic objects according to strict instructions, with little room for creativity or pizzazz. I've been eating at La Serenata for more than 15 years and would not describe any experience I've had there in those terms. (I'm talking about the Boyle Heights location, having rarely enjoyed the other two branches.)

                      I don't know when or how often you've found an assembly-line approach, but I was at La Serenata a couple of weeks ago and had a fabulous piece of very fresh salmon, lightly cooked to a juicy yet flaky state and covered with their excellent Molcajete sauce -- French in inspiration (the fine-chopped aromatic vegetables and sensitive cooking) but wonderfully Mexican in taste.

                      Moles La Tia, on the other hand, has not won my affection, try as I might. I'll be going back (despite the fact that they now have a professional Web site ;-) but haven't yet changed my opinion from the review I gave at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585417

                      1. re: sbritchky

                        I've always found that La Serenata drowns indifferent supermarket-quality fish under sauces quite literally made by the gallon, serves flavorless if fancy masa-based antojitos, and has pretty awful beans.

                        But I admit - it may bug me more than it should that the parking lot is patrolled by conspicuously armed guards and that the people at the next table are far, far more likely to be from Santa Monica than they are from down the block. It the place Eastside folks tell you to visit, although they never go there themselves. If I found a cheap little marisqueria on Whittier serving the exact same things, I'd probably be ecstatic.

                        1. re: condiment

                          I never park in the lot but I've had huitlacoche sauce there that was fantastic.

                    2. re: dunnbates

                      Agree with you completely about Serenata de Garibaldi. We're on our way there tonight for our daughter's b-day.

                      If you've been there for dinner you have to try it at lunch. Totally different menu.

                    3. Good list so far, to which I would add Mi India Bonita, particularly if you're in the mood for an absolutely wonderful bowl of albondigas.

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                      Mi India Bonita
                      4731 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: David Kahn

                        Good call, David. The soups are great at MIB

                        1. re: Ernie

                          Cool! I've never even heard of this place. I'll put on my list to check out. Thanks!

                          1. re: sparkyk

                            Keep in mind that MIB opens early and closes early, 7am - 5pm. There's also a chance that they'll be out of albondigas if you show up late, so go early and often.

                      2. Teresita's, Ciro's or Manny's El Tepayec are all very good examples of ELA Mexican...I like Ciros the best, then Teresitas (the Latino political elite of LA eat at Teresita's very frequently). King Taco is great but it's more like a stand than a restaurnant, and the selection is akin to that of a taco truck -- tacos, burritos mostly.

                        La Seranata is very upscale -- the food is really good, but not home style cooking. More refined flavors and variety of sauces. It is more gourmet. With prices to match; compare to Ciro's where 3 enchiladas rice and beans are $9, I think .

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: NAspy

                          It's true Serenata de Garibaldi is pricier than most Mexican restos, but the prices are still very reasonable. And, altho there are white linen tablecloths and menu choices you'll never see in the typical LA Mexican resto, the ambiance is relaxed and gracious so that you'll be as comfortable there in jeans as you would be anywhere.

                          I think they have put together a marvelous combination of good food, warmth and graciousness.