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LA "Serious" Mexican Trip-- Additional Suggestions?

I've been lurking on this board the past year or so gleaning tips on where to get some good mexican food in LA. I live in Asia where there is zero mexican food worth considering (even in Tokyo which seems to have something quite good for just about any other cuisine).

I've based a lot of the following itinerary on the "Mexican in LA for Serious/Old Line" Chowhounds but as I look at the list I have now, it's tilted toward Oaxacan (which isn't a bad thing). I'd wouldn't mind adding a few more spots to the list but they would need to be close to where I'll be (Saturday Eastside), (Sunday- downtown and central) (Monday- Westside).

Current Plan

Lunch- Cinco Puntos
Dinner- Moles La Tia

Lunch- Grand Central Market
Dinner- Antequera de Oaxcana

Breakfast- Pepy's Galley (Chilaquiles)
Lunch- Monte Alban

So that's three Oaxacan dinners in row. Any other options worth considering? I should say that despite the many seemingly great mariscos places I would rather focus on other kinds of food given how good the seafood is where I currently live.

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  1. I'm not sure if Monte Alban is open right now. I heard it was closed temporarily because of a fire. It's my favorite on the Westside, so I was really sad when I heard that. If anyone has heard differently, please do tell.

    Other than that, your list looks good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: alliebear

      I haven't heard anything about Monte Alban opening yet. I think a more-than worthy substitute would be Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista. It's a few minutes away from Pepy's Galley and would fit in your itinerary well. Mariscos Chente is seafood intensive - that's all they do - and they do it very well. Here's a thread started by the hound who first posted about MC:


      There are a few more MC-related threads on this board as well, so give them a read and decide for yourself.

      Mariscos Chente
      4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

        1. re: alliebear

          Excellent!! Enfrijoladas on Friday!! :DDD


          1. re: Dommy

            Well, I see my back up to MC has changed again. I'll probably get take out molotes on Sunday in any case...

      1. Excellent list!! Keeping in mind that Tamales Freeze VERY well... I would alter plans a bit...

        Stop by Cinco Puntos... get Pork Tamales, put in cooler and take home for later... then drive down Cesar Chavez, right on Evergreen and go to El Tepayac... get the Chicken Taquito Appetizer.... That is a SERIOUS experience and also I found Moles La Tia's apps to be rather meh (except for the awesome soup that comes with everything!!)

        No problem with Sunday and Monday Hounds above have mentioned Monte Alban has closed by Mariscos Chente is a find sub.

        Hope you have fun with this visit... next go around you are going to have to add La Flor de Yucatan on Hoover and then Chichen Itza at Mercado la Paloma. :)


        14 Replies
        1. re: Dommy

          I'll check out El Tepeyec.

          Very sad to hear that Monte Alban has closed down. Where am I going to get my molotes?

          As good as MC sounds, I get so much good seafood where I am now that I am drawn to other flavors.

          How about La Huasteca? Would it be possible to get from Mar Vista out to La Huasteca and back by 12:30 pm or so given an 8am breakfast at Pepe's? And what should I get if I go? Seems like I could just head up the 105 at around 10am though I have no idea what traffic is like.

          1. re: tigerjohn

            Absolutely you can get to La Huasteca by 12.30.

            I would urge you to reconsider on Mariscos Chente. You may get great seafood but I guarantee you won't get flavours like that in Japan. Get a pescado zarandeado and a shrimp dish like camarones culichi or camarones borrachos.

            What about Babita for your eastside run?

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              He needs to go to La Huasteca and back by 12:30, that could be tight, depending on traffic.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                DU, you took the words right out of my keyboard.

              2. re: tigerjohn

                You could run into traffic issues coming back to Mar Vista from La Huasteca. The 105-West is usually okay but the 405-North from about Century on up to as far as Sunset can be really bad any time on any day, except early or late.

                Dommy's recs for Chicen Itza and La Flor de Yucatan are great - you'd also be hitting up an additional region for Mexican cuisine - one that isn't as common as one would hope around LA. I believe Saturday is the day to go for La Flor de Yucatan - they have one of the best renditions of cochinita pibil as well as great pastries and other food items that are unique to the Yucatan.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  On the way back I only need to get to LAX by 12:30 so if the 105 is ok, then would you think La Huasteca is a possibility?

                  1. re: tigerjohn

                    I'm putting myself in your shoes and wondering if by going to Pepy's for chilaquiles at breakfast, are you going to have enough space time-wise to enjoy a meal at La Hausteca, jump on the freeways, potentially battle traffic and then get back to the Westside by 1230? IMHO, this place isn't a taqueria where you eat and run. I would think you should be able to take in the surroundings and really enjoy the food. Dining experiences are not so common for Mexican cuisine in LA.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Pepy's is open much earlier at 6 a.m. last I checked if you can adjust your schedule. La Huasteca is open at 9 a.m. Possibly hit Pepy's as early as possible, then head towards La Huasteca. You'd beat early morning traffic and give yourself ample time to enjoy and still get back to LAX by 12:30.

                        Although I would heartily endorse the Marisco Chente suggestion, one thing to take into consideration with your time frame is MC may not be open that early on a Monday morning. They are a family run place and morning hours the first part of the week can be inconsistent.

                        1. re: Jase

                          That was cool of you to do that research! Very Cool!

                2. re: tigerjohn

                  with the types of places you're going - i think you will be extremely disappointed if you go to el tepeyac. i find the food to be ---- HUGE --- but totally lacking in flavor. it's just mediocre outrageous portions of food. it's a fun tourist destination, but not if you're actually serious about food. i'd equate it to recommending C&O or buca de bepo if someone was looking for an authentic italian food tour.

                  1. re: dtud

                    El Tepeyac is great for what it is, simple but very good Mexican-American border driven cooking. Would not consider El Tepeyacs food from a region like Oaxaca, Peubla, Mexico City D.F.. Save El Tepeyac for when you have lots of time to try many many things. Your time sounds limited. If you want that style of food close to Mar Vista try El Abanajo, still the same applies, it is Mexican-American type food.

                    1. re: Burger Boy

                      I third this. If you grew up with Mexican-American food that is heavy with cheese and sour cream and mostly sort of dull flavors and want that for comfort food reasons; or if you want to challenge your abilities to eat ludicrous amounts of food no matter what it tastes like, then El Tepeyac is your place. Otherwise, give it a miss.

                      1. re: estone888

                        Hey, it is good food, the machaca is amazing. It is just not a regional food like some of the other places mentioned.

              3. I think Monte Alban is closed too and I also like El Sazon Oaxaqueño and El Texate better.

                You might think of adding La Casita Mexican in Bell for chile en nogada or chilaquiles (great moles there) for a breakfast/brunch or lunch, and if you have time to swing by Don Felix Meat Market for a lengua burrito would be good. Also, El Abajeno has great big carne asada burritos (will fill you up though) and nice carnitas too. Also, how about El Parian for birria or carne asada burrito?

                I have not had the chilaquiles at Pepe's (I think Mar Vista bowl, right?) but want to try although technically not ful Mexican restaurant there I think?

                Mariscos chente is great, you might want to mix it up with that--some ceviches or spicy shrimp might be nice foil to all the sweet Oaxacan.

                La Indiana has nice tamales

                1. If you don't go to Babita, you'll have skipped the best Mexican restaurant in L.A. IMO.

                  1823 S San Gabriel Blvd
                  San Gabriel, CA 91776
                  (626) 288-7265

                  1. I like El Tepyac, their machaca is the best, get a side of taquitos, and you get a huge order of of guacamole. They also have really good chiliquiles. Never knew until a few months ago.

                    La CasitaMexicana in Bell is great. They make fresh soups everyday. They are from Jalisco and have really good food. They are known for their chile nogada.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: paprkutr

                      So is Babita -- and it's that happy time of year when both chiles and pomegranates are in season (I'm making chiles en nogada myself tonight for just that reason).

                    2. “LA ‘Serious’ Mexican Trip” to me means a true Mexican menu with some serious home-style flavors of Mexico at unbelievably low prices. For example, very tender lengua and pollo, or some rich and harty Al Pastor. This little shack has the best homemade chorizo tacos I ever had. I recommend buying five or six different tacos so you can sample many flavors all at once for under $8.

                      Taqueria LA Cabana (Great lunch place, a small shack with outside tables only. Tacos for $1 to $1.50, Shrimp, fish, Lengua, Carnitas, Pollo, Al pastor, Chorizo, Cabeza, Sesos, Buche, Jaiva, and on Sat. and Sun. Tacos de Tripas, and Tacos de Barbacoa and more).
                      3402 Cogswell Rd
                      El Monte, CA 91732
                      (626) 448-9310

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JeetJet

                        Get the chorizo & egg burro also, so good!

                      2. Based on the comments I have revised the itinerary:

                        Lunch- Moles La Tia
                        Dinner- La Castia or La Huasteca

                        Lunch- Grand Central Market
                        Dinner- Antequera de Oaxcana

                        Breakfast- Pepy's Galley (Chilaquiles)
                        Lunch- Mariscos Chente

                        I'd like to be able to get to Babita but I can't be all the way out in San Gabriel on Saturday or Sunday night. I am going to try either La Huasteca or La Casita. Which one should I visit, particularly if I want to get the Chiles en Nogada?

                        22 Replies
                        1. re: tigerjohn

                          For Chiles en Nogada... La Casita... I found La Huasteca's version to be a bit flat...


                          1. re: Dommy

                            Any recs from La Huasteca if I don't get the chiles en nogada? Also I am going to go with your suggestion of takeout from Cinco Puntos.

                            1. re: tigerjohn

                              LUV the Filet in Huitlacoche Sauce... one of the few dishes that really knows how to HANDLE corn truffle... amazing...

                              We also like their seafood dishes (Snapper is great!)... and I have a weakness for their Chipotle Smoked Albondigas.

                              Full menu of Tequilas... although go up to the bar yourself and pour over the selection carefully... that is one of the true joys of going there...


                          2. re: tigerjohn

                            La Casita. La Huasteca has better food overall (in my TERRIBLY humble opinion) but the chiles en nogada are better at La Casita.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Not at ALL... that post about Babita v. Casita... Since the OP mentioned he can't go to Babita (breaks my heart just thinking about it!) left with the two choices... the winner is Casita although I STILL find them a bit TOO sweet...

                                  A couple of months ago, we went to La Casita and La Huasteca in the same week... And plate per plate, found La Huasteca's food better flavored... also a full liquior license helps some too...


                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                If I were to go to Huasteca, then what would you recommend?

                                1. re: tigerjohn

                                  Panuchos or tlacoyos from the apps menu.

                                  Pipian verde (on enchiladas maybe?). A friend loves the parsley fish; I like the salmon with poblano chile sauce and, if they have them, the beef with huitlacoche. Velo de novia (chicken with white mole) is good, and I've had the cecina and it's tasty too.

                                  Don't forget dessert. Their desserts are really good (though availability rotates).

                                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  We all are TERRIBLY humble on this board! This guy is gonna balloon up 40lbs when he is done eating in LA!

                                3. re: tigerjohn

                                  I'd reiterate that you want to doublecheck that Monday morning if Mariscos Chente will be open when you get there. I live near there and love the place, but it is a family run place. There have been reports of people driving a long distance to visit them and being disappointed they were closed during stated hours and not open till later due to family responsibilities. But they are definitely a spot on good choice. Read the other long MC thread for great descriptions of all thier dishes.

                                  Heck, I'm sure you could talk some hounds into meeting you there so you'd be able to split some dishes. Especially that grilled snook. Smallest is usually 1 kilo, one person could eat it all but it doesn't leave you much room for other dishes.

                                  My wife and I will usually get the snook and couple of the shrimp dishes.

                                  1. re: Jase

                                    I have to get the rental car back to LAX by 1:30 so I will call them to ask about hours. If any hounds want to join for lunch at 11:30 or 11:45 assuming they are open please join. I think my backup will be Tacomiendo as it's close by. I am thinking I don't want to risk driving farther than westside for lunch.

                                    1. re: tigerjohn

                                      As the mods discourage organizing meet ups in the post, you may want to post the date you'll be there and/or place a temporary email address in your profile for someone to reach you.

                                      Tacomiendo would be a solid choice IMO, it's in our regular rotation of quick bite. Maybe save room for crossing the street and trying the Taco Sanchez stand and grabbing a shrimp taco. It's a fave among many hounds. That corner of Culver/Inglewood has Tacomiendo, El Abajeno and Taco Sanchez, all with different strengths.

                                      Another back up consideration in that general vicinity is
                                      El Sazon Oaxaqueno.
                                      12131 Washington Pl
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90066
                                      (310) 391-4721

                                      It's about half a mile north of MC and Tacomiendo. Caution there are two Washingtons running paralle at that stage, make sure you're on the right Washington, Pl vs Blvd.

                                      A lot of people like the mole's at Oaxaqueno, it's not as good as Monte Alban but still a very solid choice, especially since you won't get to try MA. But you may have your fill of Mole or Oaxaqueno food at this point.

                                      The one other thing Sazon Qaxaqueno has is a very good bakery. Inexpensive wide selection of Mexican pastries that keep really well. I have taken them on flights and they make a great snack and much better than airplane food. You can get a dozen assorted for $5-7 depending on what you get.

                                      1. re: Jase

                                        On your advice, my plan is to be at Mariscos Chente at 11:45 on Monday, September 28th.

                                        1. re: tigerjohn

                                          Tigerjohn, we hope you have a great visit to L.A. The hounds have guided you to some of this city's great Mexican restaurants.

                                          Just a note for meetup organizers - please include your email so other people can contact you off this board, per our meetup guidelines here:

                                        2. re: Jase

                                          Taco Miendo is nothing special really... just went a few weeks ago and found their food solid, but not quite there...

                                          I would rather Sazon and get their Barbacoa or anyone of their Sopes... excellent!!


                                          12406 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                                          1. re: Dommy

                                            Tigerjohn -- CALL CHENTE FIRST before you go. The day of. Just make 100% sure they're open. It's a family-run place so if there's a family crisis... God forbid...

                                            1. re: Dommy

                                              To clarify, Dommy is referring to a different Sazon than my post. She's referring to Sazon Latin Fusion
                                              12406 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90066
                                              Tel: 310.390.9501 Fax: 310.390.5061

                                              It's on the other Washington and it's closer to MC, just a couple blocks north up Centinela, on the corner next to the Comic book store.

                                              They open at 11. I will second the barbacoa and sopes. This is also in our neighborhood rotation and wife gets the barbacoa 2/3 of the time.

                                              Dommy and Das's food (especially mexican) sensibilites are among the tops on the board, so I'd heartily endorse listening to any of their suggestions.

                                              1. re: Dommy

                                                I'm a gingo, and so, lacking any blood-credibility, its hard to be authoritative AND to disagree with Dommy! about Mexican food, but I think Tacomiendo is really great. Perhaps not as great as some of the full menu/bar places in Mexi-enclaves mentioned in this thread but quite solid (and not just solid "for the Westside"). Is the carne asada as well marinated as others in town...no. But that is my major gripe. Of the non-taco, burrito, quesadilla offerings I find so many real "dishes" well-prepared there that I cain't find to many other places that don't require a major haul: love the fish soup, chile verde, chile roja, and others.
                                                Monte Alban remains my favorite local place but Tacomiendo is up there.

                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                  I love sopes, but I went their website www.sazonlatinfusion.com and I didn't see them on the menu. I assume I can just order them? I'll get the barbacoa.

                                                  Strange to see things like Mofongos. I guess I don' t know what kind of carribean food exists in LA.

                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                    I'll make sure and call MC first on the morning of.

                                                  2. re: Jase

                                                    That corner is like Murder's Row. Sanchez, Miendo & Abajeno, didn't they play for the Dodgers back in the day?

                                            2. go to cesar chavez & breed street in boyle heights on sat or sunday evening. lots of vendors set up and serve up freshly cooked items from mexico and various other latin american country's.

                                              exilekiss wrote a great review: http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/10...

                                              since the review i linked above was written (circa 2008), there has been an increase in the number of vendors at the location. great food, and for a very good price!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: wilafur

                                                This is a great idea. Make sure you go to Nina's.

                                                1. re: wilafur

                                                  There was a recent uncorroborated report that the Breed Street food fair might be in trouble:


                                                  I've bumped the thread, hoping for an update.

                                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                                    Breed St. is the Mexican food without equal here in LA.

                                                    There are a ton of vendors, but I would highlight a few outstanding stands. Nina's for DF style antojitos(typical foods called little whims) like the pambazo(best around, a potato and chorizo stuffed bread fried in guajillo chile sauce), and various members of the sope family with various toppings,best are huitlacoche(corn smut), flor de calabaza(squash blossom), tinga(spiced meat or chicken), and papa con chorizo(potato with chorizo).

                                                    There is a woman nearby that makes the only tacos de guisado in town, her fillings vary, but there's always egg with rice(one of the most common tacos in DF and this will identify her stand for you) taco, stewed beef with potato, chicharron in green sauce, and a nice cecina.

                                                    The tacos de barbacoa and consume are very good, I just wouldn't try the pancita, they don't clean it very well. It's awful offal. It won't get you sick but the flavor is nasty. There is an enchilada stand near Nina's that is great too.

                                                    Under the rainbow umbrella on Breed is a woman that makes awesome pozole, red and white. Her tostadas of pig skin and feet are classic comfort foods.

                                                    I love the street crepes, but have them simple with a sweet topping, not the works with the fruit cocktail and all that.

                                                    The cemitas stand near Nina's looks pretty good, though I've never tried it.

                                                    There are many others but these stand out, perhaps there will be a surprise or too as there often is. I will verify the few reports this weekend.

                                                    Sounds like you have a nice list.I also recommend after Nina's, Mariscos Chente, the best Sinaloa/Nayarit cuisine north of the border. Pescado zarandeado, aguachile or ceviche de camaron, camaron a la diabla, camaron borraco, filete empapelado, tacos de marlin, longostinos al mojo de ajo, and callo de hacha if they have them.

                                                    Moles La Tia for deep and playful moles. La Casita for a delightful fonda experience. Huasteca, or La Casita? You'll do fine in either restaurant, check out the menus as they have different cuisines.

                                                    Chichen Itza now does dinner in the Mercado La Paloma, and Flor de Yucatan is beautiful.

                                                    Metro Balderas for DF style carnitas, many exotic cuts with fun textures.

                                                    Can't wait to hear you report.

                                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                                      i went @ 5wks ago and it was hopping as usual.

                                                      however, i did go one time when word of an impending health dept raid was looming. all the vendors packed up within 5mins and were gone. quite an hilarious sight but i was left hungry. booo.

                                                  2. Glad to hear that you're not going to El Tepeyac. I lived on the other side of the block. The locals, including the police, instead go to Ciro's, across the street and down Evergreen (towards Cesar Chavez Boulevard). While four of us lived there in the 80's, we'd always go there rather than El Tepeyac. One ex-roommate was there less than a month ago, and he said the food is just as good as it was in the 80's.