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Oct 17, 2009 01:37 PM

Tex-mex in LA?

I moved here from Tulsa several years ago, and frequented restaurants in Dallas, Texas. Since moving to LA, I've found many a wonderful new cuisine here, but am deeply missing some of the food from back home, where the style of Mexican is different from here.

Maybe it's tex-mex, sonoran, southwestern, etc., but it's similar to what I had on my trips south of the border. Personally, I care not if it's authentic mexican, I just crave it! I've noticed the styles of 'mexican' vary greatly from what you get in Texas, Arizona, and California, and I'm partial to the first two. Presumably, they all inherit their flavors from the areas they are just north of in Mexico. Someone care to enlighten me?

Prime examples of what I'm on a mission to find in LA:
Uncle Julios (of Dallas): I only ate here once, 7 years ago, and I can't get it out of my mind. Best fajitas, guacamole, and tortillas in my life. The steak wasn't typical LA "whatchamacallit", but top grade. (I've actually found equally good homemade tortillas here at Paco's Tacos - a very kind little old lady makes them in the corner of the restaurant while you eat, but the rest of the fajita here leaves something to be desired

Maybe the closest thing I've found here is the chain, On the Border Grill, and Cozymel's, both of which are not up to par.

Please tell me this exists here? I've seen similar threads that seem to end up with the inevitably aweful suggestions of Tito's Tacos, some Taco stand, El Torito, Del Taco, etc. Pllllleeease. Not even in the same category or quality.

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  1. Marix Tex - Mex. They are in Weho and Santa Monica. Decent fajitas, but not stellar. I like Chili's better. Their steaks that I've had at the SaMo spot are pretty good.

    1. I always preface this rec by saying that I haven't eaten here in many years but, when I did, the fajitas and tortillas were outstanding:

      3 Replies
      1. re: JAB

        This looks interesting, but probably too far for us to drive more than rarely. Next time I'm out to the east, I'll have to give it a try.

        I should have mentioned I'm on the Westside - willing to drive a bit though.

        1. re: JAB

          Unless things have improved in the last year, it has gone way downhill. The items on the menu were intriguing, but everything we ordered seemed like it part of a frozen dinner they had taken out of its paper tray and put on a plate to try to fool us. We never went back, and I certainly wouldn't drive across the city for it.

        2. Don Rogelio in Lennox, CA.Excellent Tex-Mex.

          1. Border Grill, La Cabana (Venice), Lare's (Santa Monica), Ciudad (downtown), Rivera (downtown), Babita (San Gabriel). And check the stalls at Grand Central Market (downtown) for good food and great value.

            9 Replies
            1. re: mc michael

              And if the OP is going to swing by Lares they might as well go a couple of more blocks west and check out Gilbert's El Indio too.

              Lares Restaurant
              2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

              Gilbert's El Indio
              2526 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

              1. re: Servorg

                Links (which did not take when I tried to add them the first time around) here:

                Lares Restaurant
                2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                Gilbert's El Indio
                2526 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

              2. re: mc michael

                Babita and some of the others that I know on your list, mc michael, have many claims and charms, but they aren't Tex-Mex in any sense, especially in the sense of Tex-Mex founding cathedral Matt's El Rancho in Austin (and its lesser wholly owned cousins in Dallas). They're not even much like certain favored high-end Mexican or Regional Mexican restaurants in latter-day Texas -- for example: Hugo's in Houston, Javier's in Dallas, La Fogata in San Antonio, Fonda San Miguel in Austin, .... (Straying slightly from the original topic, Babita isn't nearly as good as the last two, IMHO.)

                Every few months one of these discussions starts up yet again, and we never identify really good Tex-Mex places in Southern California (although I look forward to trying Don Rogelio's on streetgourmetla's recommendation).So when I yearn for Tex-Mex, I have a progressive meal: bean, cheese, and jalapeƱo nachos at La Cabanita; bean and cheese burritos at Al & Bea's (hold the watery salsa, por favor); chiles en nogada at La Casita (the sophisticated sauce isn't obviously Tex-Mex, but the chiles stuffed with ground beef and pork -- unlike the unappealing guisado stuffing at Babita and La Cabanita -- and dotted with nuts and dried fruit remind me of the special chile relleno at Matt's); and puffy tacos at Arturo's Puffy Taco in Whittier de Nixon. The food can be very good, but, of course, this dinner isn't a completely authentic experience, because our law enforcement does not appreciate Texas culture. As you drive from place to place you won't be able to legally throw empty beer bottles at passersby or shoot at traffic signs with your rifle, activities I helped pioneer in El Paso, Mercedes, and Brownsville, Tex., when I was a young anglo pachuco from California many years ago.

                1. re: Harry Nile

                  I generally agree, however, I think trying to recapture the experience of another area's food here is doomed to fail. Having had many a meal at Austin's Big Four, Spanish Village and others there, I realize we don't have the sort of Tex-Mex you are searching for. (Although El Cholo claims their nachos have Tex-Mex origins.) Rather I think you just have to suck it up and find what we have here that's good. So Grand Central Market Stalls, the increasing array of "taco trucks," Serenata da Garibaldi, Babita, El Tepeyac, King Taco, Loteria Grill, et al.

                  1. re: mc michael

                    As a Texan, I know exactly what you mean ! That said, though not in LA, I wholeheartedly recommend Casa Garcia of Anaheim. Their food is true TexMex & well worth the drive. Will post links or address later. (But they have 2 locations...the closest being approx.1/2 mile East on Lincoln off the 5 Fwy.

                    1. re: JazzBeau

                      What about El Torito Grill on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills?

                        1. re: mc michael

                          It is kind of Tex Mex from what I remember. I haven't been there in a while.

                  2. re: Harry Nile

                    Arturo's Puffy Taco isn't just a recreation of a Tex-Mex restaurant, it IS a Tex-Mex restaurant, brother to and nearly as venerable as Henry's Puffy Taco in San Antonio. The cooking is kind of specific, but that may be the point.