Mexican near Griffith Park?
Need a casual mexican place to take out of towners to dinner after an excursion to the observatory. I really don't know that side of town well at all, but would prefer to go south or west of griffith park so that we end up closer to home rather than further. It doesn't have to be that close as long as it is in the right direction. Bonus points for an atmosphere that is a little festive, but this isn't vital.
Not sure if you’re looking for authentic dives, or for table service places with margaritas, etc., but since you mention “festive” and heading south and west, as opposed to east, I’m going to assume the latter.
Also not sure where “home” is so don’t know how far south or west to include. But…
For proximity, the closest and most obvious place to Griffith Park is Mexico City. Some folks love it. I tend to find the food hit and miss. And I’d call the atmosphere just marginally festive. http://www.mexicocityla.com/
South of there, on Sunset just east of Hillhurst, is Malo. A little more festive I suppose, but again, some folks love it and many don’t. www.malorestaurant.com
But…since you are heading west afterwards, the places I’d really consider are:
Lotería! Grill on Hollywood. Great food and drinks, though not sure I’d call it too festive. Of course, you could also take them to the original in the Farmers Market, but then it's just beer and wine next door, no booze. http://loteriagrill.com/
Mexico Restaurante y Barra in West Hollywood. Really great food and drinks and atmosphere. Very, very festive. http://www.gogomexico.com/
Mission Cantina (5946 W. Sunset Blvd. @ Tamarind Ave.) More hip, trendy bar vibe, but the food is surprisingly excellent. http://www.themissioncantina.com/
El Compadre on Sunset with passable food and a fun vibe. http://www.elcompadrerestaurant.com/
Gardens of Taxco in West Hollywood. I haven’t been but I hear it’s a great, one-of-a-kind experience. http://www.gardensoftaxco.com/
And a personal favorite, Pueblo Viejo on Melrose @ Larchmont. Not very trendy at all. But a great family run sit-down with terrific food and drinks and amazing prices. Reminds me of San Francisco’s Mission district. No website. It's that kind of place.
Or if you’re heading further south, you might also consider the original El Cholo on Western. Definitely a destination worth showing out-of-towners. http://www.elcholo.com/
Stay away from:
Antonio's on Melrose (overpriced)
El Coyote (gross)
1121 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
El Compadre Restaurant
7408 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
4326 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
2121 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Gardens of Taxco
1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046
5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Mexico Restaurante y Barra
8512 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Loteria Grill Hollywood
6627 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
I think Malo is quite fun and while the food isn't earthshattering, I've enjoyed everything I've eaten there. Also, if you want more casual, Yuca's,the one at Hollywood and Vermont , is very good. They have walk up ordering and food is brought to table.
Have to say....I really wanted to like Mexico City, since it's in the neighborhood. But I've had really dreadful food there. I mean....really shockingly bad. I'd avoid it.
I haven't been to Lucy's El Adobe....but it was pretty good "in the day" and it's not too far from your target area.
The protential good news is that Rick Bayliss is opening two new Mexican place here very soon.
On its worst days, Yuca's is far greater than decent; on its best, it is the best. I keep hearing how fine the burgers are, but I can never pull myself away from the cochinita pibil burrito. BTW, I haven't been to the "offshoot" and would be interested in hearing reports, because of its longer hours. But there's something about the original Yuca's -- where you stand in a liquor-store parking lot and chat with the lady who takes your order -- that cannot be denied.
2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
When you come back that way, know that the Yuca's offshoot on Hollywood is terrific; same menu, plus a few more things the shack on Hillhurst doesn't have room for... like some excellent guacamole.
I don't understand why anyone would send you to places like Loteria or El Cholo when you asked for "near Griffith Park." For festive + proximity, I'd put El Chavo on Sunset at the top of the list.