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Mexican NOT Tex-Mex in LA

Any recommendations for real Mexican food in LA? Not Tex-Mex but real gourmet Mexican food.

Anywhere in the LA area will do. Or even an hour or so out of the area...I'm always willing to drive for good food.


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  1. Babita probably fits the bill for gourmet Mexican food
    1823 South San Gabriel Boulevard
    San Gabriel, CA 91776-3929
    (626) 288-7265

    I don't think LA has as much Tex-Mex as you think.

    1. I would try La Serenata de Garabaldi, just east of downtown. You can even get there without a long drive if you take the Gold Line light rail.

      (323) 265-2887
      1842 E 1st St
      Los Angeles, CA

      La Huasteca in Lynwood is another good choice if you want to avoid Tex-Mex on the high end.

      (310) 537-8800
      3150 E Imperial Hwy, #100
      Lynwood, CA

      There are many other options for authentic, regional Mexican food in the area that is not Tex-Mex although I am not sure most of the settings are not gourmet.

      1. Follow the advice of Ringo Gato and Monku - very good selections.
        Tex-Mex has never really caught on here in the LA area to any significant level, as the real thing has become so prevalent, in all kinds of variations of ways.
        Loteria Grill is based on food from the DF, and is in the Original Farmer's Market as well as on Hollywood Blvd. with a 3rd location readying to open in Studio City in the former Gaucho Grill location at Ventura & Laurel Canyon.
        And Rivera downtown LA near Staples Center is superb (Read SIV in today's LA Times for a quick opinion), and Rick Bayless of chicago fame, per eaterLA, will be the chef overlooking the kitchens of the soon to open Red Onion on Melrose in the former Chocolat/Moustache Cafe space, just west of Crescent Hts. - have you seen the remake of that facility - someone is spending a bloody fortune!

        1. I'm curious as to why you think L.A. is full of Tex-Mex... cuz it ain't.

          As a matter of fact, if you put a gun to my head and asked me where to find a Tex-Mex restaurant, well...

          13 Replies
          1. re: Joe Blowe

            Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

            1. re: monku

              Too much sugar in the coffee...

            2. re: Joe Blowe

              Marix Tex Mex in Santa Monica Canyon, just off the PCH. Now could you put the gun away, please?

              I wouldn't know where to find gourmet Mexican either. But for authentic non-gourmet Mexican...well, I have a hard time walking down the street without tripping over them.

              1. re: Bjartmarr

                When I see 'gourmet' being used as an adjective, it makes my eyes bleed.

                Since this is TheDiabolicalCupcake's very first post, I'm guessing she is just beginning to explore LA's vast pantheon of real Mexican food. (I'm also guessing that she's using "Tex-Mex" as a catch-all for "Americanized Mexican food", and by "gourmet" she means "not El Torito or Baja Fresh".)

                The recs above are good. I'd add Chichen Itza's 6th street location to the mix. Yucatecan food is quite unique.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Hey, man, grammarhound.com is thataway -->


                  1. re: Bjartmarr

                    I know, I know... it's one of my character flaws :)

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      and yet you write "quite unique" as though unique could be modified. ;) hi taster.

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          "deserved" - Is that where someone takes away your plate before you're done eating? ;-D>

                  2. re: Mr Taster

                    Chichen Itza closed it's 6th Street location and now serves dinner at the Mercado La Paloma Location.


                    1. re: Dommy

                      Wow, really? When did this happen? For the OP's edification, the 6th street location was a stand-alone restaurant whereas Mercado La Paloma has a sort of food court of sorts. However, even at this location, CI hardly serves up steam table fare. Beautiful, tasty dishes on large ceramic plates. The atmosphere, however, might bother someone who cares about those things.

                      Mr Taster

                2. re: Joe Blowe

                  Marix, on (I think) Kings Road, just above Santa Monica. Just so you don't get shot...

                3. I wholeheartedly second Rivera and Babita as well as La Serenata de Garibaldi. Rivera gets top billing overall from me for its wonderful ambience and dynamite bar. Babita and La Serenata serve only beer and wine. Babita’s sangria, however, is world-class!

                  To the above, I must add:

                  La Casita Mexicana
                  4030 Gage Ave.
                  Bell, CA 90201
                  (323) 773-1898
                  Serious, upscale Mexican cuisine. The two chef/owners, Jaime and Ramiro are prodigous aficionados of traditional "cenaduria" Mexican alta cocina who do it up right and insist upon keeping it real. Fabulous posole, queso fundido and chilaquiles. Extraordinary moles. Exquisite chiles en nogada when in-season. Inquire about off-menu specials. No alcohol.


                  Bon Appetit!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: degustateur

                    I remember a year or two ago that some claimant from the Bay Area sniffed about La Casita not having alcohol. It may have been a snort, actually. For me, as much as I love good wine and Hank-hard liquor, the dry table merely adds to their food-central appeal.

                    Let's not forget to mention the excellent-to-great soups and those mole-dripped chips. And the simple mound of white rice with a slice of fresh, raw jalapeño is exquisite. Sushi-fans, where are you?

                    You've hit the high notes, degustateur. La Serenata, Babita, La Casita. Those are the places.

                  2. Not terribly high-end, but definitely real Mexican: Moles La Tia in East LA; Monte Alban in West LA; Antequera de Oaxaca in Mid-City, all Oaxacan food.

                    Alta cocina is a little thin on the ground in LA, though there is talk about Rick Bayless opening two restaurants this year in LA.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Interesting...where did you see this news about Bayless?

                        1. re: Harry Nile

                          Awesome -- thanks for the link! Here's the direct link to the story:


                          1. re: a_and_w

                            Wow, if this is true, then very exciting! I ate at Xoco, his newest restaurant, when I was in Chicago in November and it was really great.

                        2. re: a_and_w

                          Hopefully Mr. Bayless will stick close to the authentic roots of his Chicago restos, in contrast to the vast sea of oversimplified, Americanized 'Mexican' places on Both sides of Interstate 5.

                          I'd like to hear his opinions of the better, well respected places mentioned in this post.

                          Oh, and what Trademark Imbecile advised him to call the new places 'Red Onion'? For us LA old timers, that name is associated with that old school chain mediocrity.

                        3. re: Das Ubergeek

                          from what i'm told, rocio is no longer at moles la tia.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            Yeah, I just saw the update. I'll hold off on recommendations until I can re-try.

                        4. not alta cocina, but fantastic mexican seafood done in the style of sinaloa and nayrit:
                          Mariscos Chente on centinela in mar vista (north of culver blvd, south of washington).
                          there are tons of threads about this place.
                          i practically live there.. . .

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: westsidegal

                            Yes, we are eating out way through their menu. It's excellent.

                          2. If you don't mind heading down to Long Beach, might I recommend Enrique's (PCH at Loynes)? Family-style décor and beer and wine only-- and great Guadalajara cuisine. You can get all the typical Mexican stuff (their carnitas are awe-inspiring), but they offer wonderful entrée salads (each is dressed specifically for the ingredients) and creative and flavorful platos fuertes. The off-menu special (braised pork shank with tomatillo salsa) is legendary, and my mouth is watering as I type this-- I think I want to go there tonight! Oh, and they have a filet mignon-and-grilled shrimp special that transcends the typical surf-and-turf plate. By the way, they also offer an occasional citrus and spice-rub ribs special (with hand-cut fries on the side)-- delectable.

                            1 Reply
                            1. Moles La Tia is very unique and authentic and innovatove at the same time.

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

                              1. I would be interesting in hearing what the OP meant by the Tex-mex remark, because, frankly, as the child of Texans, and frequent visitor to my parents' home town, there is nothing I've tasted in Texas that resembles any of the Mexican food I've enjoyed here in LA. Texas food is good, but it's way different than LA food.

                                If "gourmet" is what you want, Babita, La Casita, and La Sereneta would be great; you could also try the Border Grill for "gourmet" via celebrity chefs.

                                But you also might want to just try some of the small taquerias and taco trucks around town - this is real Mexican food, not sure whether you could call it gourmet.

                                You can get great Oaxacan food here - on the Westside alone there's Juquila, Monte Alban, and Gueleguetza. Mariscos Chente for seafood in the Nayarit/Sinaloan style. A great taqueria on the West Side is Tacos Por Favor; I'm also fond of the Mariscos taco truck parked on Rose at 4th in Venice.

                                OP - can you reply and clarify the Tex-mex question?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: gsw

                                  I'd be surprised if the OP returns to this thread -- looks like a hit-and-run to me ;-)

                                  1. re: Joe Blowe

                                    Still, Joe, an interesting thread in that the inquiry specified “real gourmet” Mexican food. “Authentic” or “traditional” may have been more apt descriptors since, for me, “gourmet” implies fine dining at upscale venues. In LA/OC, the best “real” Mexican food is generally found in far less than upscale establishments, and sometimes, right on the street (well, not literally).