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Mexican NOT Tex-Mex in LA

TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 6, 2010 05:04 PM

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. monku RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 6, 2010 05:12 PM

    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. r
      Ringo Gato RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 6, 2010 06:08 PM

      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. c
        carter RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 6, 2010 07:41 PM

        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. Joe Blowe RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 6, 2010 07:49 PM

          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
            monku RE: Joe Blowe Jan 6, 2010 07:59 PM

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

            1. re: monku
              a_and_w RE: monku Jan 7, 2010 08:33 AM

              Too much sugar in the coffee...

            2. re: Joe Blowe
              Bjartmarr RE: Joe Blowe Jan 7, 2010 08:27 AM

              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
                Mr Taster RE: Bjartmarr Jan 7, 2010 10:18 AM

                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
                  Bjartmarr RE: Mr Taster Jan 7, 2010 10:30 AM

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


                  1. re: Bjartmarr
                    Mr Taster RE: Bjartmarr Jan 7, 2010 11:30 AM

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

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster
                      Jerome RE: Mr Taster Jan 12, 2010 01:20 AM

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

                      1. re: Jerome
                        Mr Taster RE: Jerome Jan 12, 2010 07:40 AM

                        OK, I deserved that.

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          Servorg RE: Mr Taster Jan 12, 2010 07:44 AM

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

                  2. re: Mr Taster
                    Dommy RE: Mr Taster Jan 7, 2010 10:41 AM

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


                    1. re: Dommy
                      Mr Taster RE: Dommy Jan 7, 2010 11:25 AM

                      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

                      1. re: Mr Taster
                        sku RE: Mr Taster Jan 7, 2010 01:38 PM

                        It closed months ago.

                2. re: Joe Blowe
                  schrutefarms RE: Joe Blowe Jan 8, 2010 05:49 PM

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

                3. d
                  degustateur RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 7, 2010 12:03 AM

                  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
                    Harry Nile RE: degustateur Jan 7, 2010 12:34 AM

                    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. Das Ubergeek RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 7, 2010 08:08 AM

                    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
                      a_and_w RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 7, 2010 08:34 AM

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

                      1. re: a_and_w
                        Harry Nile RE: a_and_w Jan 7, 2010 09:29 AM


                        1. re: Harry Nile
                          a_and_w RE: Harry Nile Jan 7, 2010 09:39 AM

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


                          1. re: a_and_w
                            mollyomormon RE: a_and_w Jan 7, 2010 12:26 PM

                            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
                          DiveFan RE: a_and_w Jan 9, 2010 03:59 PM

                          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
                          westsidegal RE: Das Ubergeek Jan 7, 2010 06:57 PM

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

                          1. re: westsidegal
                            Das Ubergeek RE: westsidegal Jan 7, 2010 07:52 PM

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

                        4. westsidegal RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 7, 2010 06:59 PM

                          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
                            gsw RE: westsidegal Jan 9, 2010 12:47 PM

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

                          2. r
                            rjw_lgb_ca RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 9, 2010 09:47 AM

                            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. re: rjw_lgb_ca
                              gsw RE: rjw_lgb_ca Jan 9, 2010 12:47 PM

                              I adore Enriques.

                            2. b
                              Burger Boy RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 9, 2010 10:12 AM

                              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. g
                                gsw RE: TheDiabolicalCupcake Jan 9, 2010 12:54 PM

                                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
                                  Joe Blowe RE: gsw Jan 9, 2010 04:27 PM

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

                                  1. re: Joe Blowe
                                    degustateur RE: Joe Blowe Jan 9, 2010 09:17 PM

                                    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).

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