Searching for Mexican
I just joined this site and I'm putting it to the test. My wife and I LOVE good Mexican food, but only really GOOD stuff. Right now, when we get a yen for it, we drive all the way to Pasedena to the one truly excellent Mexican takeout place I know, Puebla Tacos on Lake Blvd. Now that travelling that distance is not as affordable, I need a closer place with comprable food.
We live near the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Vermont Ave. in Vergil Village, a Latino neighborhood if ever there was one. We have Mexican restaurants all around us, but I've been to so many bad-to-mediocre places, I don't want to blow money trying to find the good ones. Can anyone advise me?
These are all excellent suggestions, and thank you all. I'm not well versed in other Latin American foods other than Mexican, but I'm willing to learn! Just for your info: I'm not interested in upscale dining; in fact, some of the best Mexican food I've had has been off of taco trucks, especially one in Eureka, way up north, where I enjoyed a fine lunch just about every day (and put on twenty pounds, easily!).
Have any of you ever tried the taco truck Tacos El Sierrano, parked at the intersection of Vergil and Lockwwod, across from Lockwood Elementary and in front of the laundromat? I pass by it often, but don't have money to experiment with my taste buds so I haven't tried it yet. I may go on an adventure tomorrow, cos I have a major hankering for carnitas (I make my own, which is good, but as a white boy I just can't do it very well).
I love a truck taco, or a taqueria taco, as much as the next guy, but I'm an old married guy, and every once in a while, the Chow-spouse, who likes a little more ambiance, wants Mexican food, too! The ONLY other nearby Yucatan place nearby is counter in the back of a bodega down by USC.
So, for a long stretch, we've been hitting Chichen Itza pretty regularly , because in addition to actually having a wine/beer license, they are the ONLY place we know where Chow-spouse can get Pan De Cazon (or as I kept calling it, "Shark Pie") so we can sit down, have a little sangria, unwind on the way home from work, eat a little, etc....
give 'em a try.
"We live near the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Vermont Ave. in Vergil Village, a Latino neighborhood if ever there was one."
Right there's part of your problem; while you're in the middle of a neighborhood full of Spanish-speaking immigrants, a significant number of 'em are originally from places no closer to Northern Mexico than we are as we type this. So I can point you at Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, Salvadorian, etc. a stone-throw from your door, but you might have to go at least a short distance for some really good Mexican, depending on your taste, and depending on how upscale or downscale you want to go.
Chichen Itza is a perennial fave of mine, and their 6th St location is probably as close as you'll get to "Regional Mexican fine dining" for four or five miles or more.
There's a host of Oaxacan places just south and west of you. ; There's at least four "modern-Mexican influenced" places downtown, (Rivera, Provecho, Casa,
three of them new within the year, and three of them VERY upscale which have gotten mixed reviews here.
Speaking of which, on my way home every night, I pass a "Cemitas Poblano" truck on the north side of 8th just east of Alvarado. Never been there; anyone know how it is?
We tried Chichen Itza (at the 6th Street location) last night and were very happy with our meal.
-shrimp ceviche (they were out of the pulpo, which I had hoped to try)
-kibi (Lebanese-inspired wheat-and-meat balls)
The starters were quite decent, but I wouldn't order either again. We really liked the complimentary habanero salsa and chips, which came coated in a black bean puree and some pico de gallo as well. The apps were good enough to tell the kitchen could do better, and it really did with the entrees.
The poc chuc was absolutely amazing - smokey and citrusy and porky. It came with a small, charred house-made link of chorizo that I would love to buy by the pound. Also on the plate: avocado, cabbage and a side of beans, I think.
The cohinita pibil was likewise excellent. This is a big serving, and comes with just (very mediocre) rice and (pretty good) black beans -- so don't expect any vegetables with your entree on that one. But the meat was really perfect.
We would order both entrees (which came with non-memorable tortillas) again easily. Yum.
The restaurant was dead, by the way, with just two other couples there. I guess that's no surprise in this economy, in that neighborhood, on a Wednesday night. But still, sad to see.