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Gardens of Taxico - Worst Mexican in LA

s
scscr Aug 9, 2010 08:27 PM

Wow.....what a terrible restaurant. I can't believe anyone on this board would ever recommend this dump. The food is factory food and the experience is just plain bad. Where to begin......let's start with no menus. WTF is up with that? Pick your meat, chicken, shrimp or fish and then he rambles off a few choices of each....what was the last one? Chicken Mole, ok I'll try that. The food is five courses (four of which everyone gets) and the entree is your choice. The first dish comes out and it is a triangle of rubbery quesadilla with some guac from a jar. Bad start. The next dish is a flavorless meatball soup with veggies so overcooked you can tell it had been stewing for a few days. Campbells version is much better. The next dish was some sort of taquito which again had the crappy guac and featured a mystery meat. The mole chicken was the worst mole I've ever had. The mole was thick as bad gravy and had a mysterious dull appearence and my guess is that it comes from a can. Last course was a banana cream something that had mushy over-ripe bananas and was not edible. To top off the worst mexican meal I have ever had in LA, we found out when we got the check that the dinner price was $30. We were told by others it would be $15 and since there were no menu prices, we found this out at the end. They gave us a paper and pen at the end of the meal to give them our personal information (I have NEVER seen this at any restaurant) so I used the paper and pen to write a more brief version of this review. Short and sweet, it read.....your food is bad! Really, really bad. Bad, Bad, Bad...worst mexican I have ever tried!!!!! I think my friend summed it up best when he compared the meal to the Mexican version of Spaghetti Factory. I beg of those who read this....DO NOT EAT AT GARDENS OF TAXICO and be leary of those who recommend this place!!!!!!

  1. c
    cls Aug 9, 2010 09:07 PM

    Must not have had the mole, it's just a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit spicy.

    1. ipsedixit Aug 10, 2010 10:05 AM

      This just in ... The sky is blue.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        johnnyshungry Aug 11, 2010 05:22 PM

        lmao
        el coyote is better and that's not saying much

        1. re: johnnyshungry
          A5 KOBE Aug 20, 2010 07:35 PM

          lol.....el coyote get my vote

      2. h
        HastaLaPasta Aug 10, 2010 10:29 AM

        I always wondered about this place - have never been, but people recommending it always made it sound "wonderful" by pointing out aspects of it that sounded decidedly unwonderful. I mean, they ask you what meat you like and that's supposed to make the restaurant a big deal? Really? What's it supposed to be, Mexican Omakase?

        1 Reply
        1. re: HastaLaPasta
          j
          Jwsel Aug 10, 2010 11:22 AM

          GoT was a breathe of fresh air when it first opened, because "Mexican" in LA was synonymous with El Torito, Acapulco, and Red Onion. Something like a mole was pretty much nonexistent. Obviously, times have changed. I personally was never a fan of GoT, but I understand why people thought it good and different.

          GoT has always been like the OP describes. You get a prix fixe menu where the first few courses and dessert are standard, and you just choose your entree.

          -----
          Red Onion
          736 Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

        2. k
          kauma Aug 10, 2010 11:41 AM

          Do you mean Gardens of Taxco?

          I may have to revisit the restaurant soon - just to find out for myself how bad/goodhe it is.

          Thank you for your thorough review...it's always helpful to read the opinions of 'Hounds!

          -----
          Gardens of Taxco
          1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046

          1 Reply
          1. re: kauma
            c
            carter Aug 11, 2010 11:10 AM

            Save yourself the anguish and money. It is truly as OP says. And that chicken Mole dish has been an option for many years now. They do not have full liquor, and so any margarita you might want is made with wine, which is not bad, but definitely not tequila-based. There are so many better places not far away that this place should not get anyone's business.
            They could not make it in Encino, a community that at the time only had one of the original El Toritos as competition, yet ultimately El Torito won out.
            "nuff said.

          2. Will Owen Aug 11, 2010 11:22 AM

            If you want truly good old-school Bad Mexican (GringoMex), and some of us occasionally do, there are so many choices that are apparently much better than this. I am rather disappointed, as I'd gotten the idea that this was yet another venerable pre-'50s tamale palace, but better this way than after I'd spent actual money there. So many thanks for taking the hit for us!

            14 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen
              ipsedixit Aug 11, 2010 11:24 AM

              Out of morbid curiosity, Will, what are your recommendations for "truly good old-school Bad Mexican"?

              1. re: ipsedixit
                Will Owen Aug 11, 2010 11:39 AM

                El Cholo, if only for its historical value; any place Gary Cooper liked is okay by me. Ernie Jr's at the merger of Glendale and Eagle Rock was okay, again very "Suddenly it's 1959!" Barragan's Echo Park, and a very similar place in Long Beach that was bankrolled by some homesick Texas oil people, wish I could remember the name... both strangely abandoned when we went, but we enjoyed the food and margs. Lucy's would probably qualify, but it's been over twenty years since we were there...

                Bad Mexican in LA is like Bad Mexican in San Antonio, as opposed to BM in places like Terre Haute: the ingredients here are the right ones, and we have enough real Mexicans doing the cooking, that even outdated, Americanized recipes can be as good as they'll ever get, as long as the staff is conscientious and competent.

                -----
                San Antonio Cafe
                1110 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  c
                  cls Aug 11, 2010 03:39 PM

                  Best bad Mexican: Casa Vega, closely followed by Bart Earl's Red Onion in Palos Verdes and lastly El Compadre.

                  -----
                  Casa Vega Restaurant
                  13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                  Red Onion
                  736 Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    r
                    ronsilverado Aug 20, 2010 12:46 AM

                    Tito's Tacos.

                    -----
                    Tito's Tacos
                    11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      s
                      SeaCook Aug 20, 2010 09:51 AM

                      Mijares in Pasadena. Their food makes Taco Bell look tasty and authentic.

                      1. re: SeaCook
                        Will Owen Aug 20, 2010 07:28 PM

                        My late father-in-law ADORED Mijares, considered it the one true yardstick by which Genuine Mexican must be measured. He and his brother used to sneak over there when they were schoolkids because their mom was such a snob that she didn't want them eating anything but white people's food, certainly not nasty Mexican trash. This was of course in the 1920s and '30s.

                        I found it sufficiently edible not to dread going there...

                    2. re: Will Owen
                      Mr Taster Aug 11, 2010 04:22 PM

                      Here's the thing, Taxco is so much greater than the sum of its parts. The gestalt's the thing.

                      The room itself feels like a 1970's American grandma's house after coming home from a package tour south of the border. The kitschy waiter thing is eye wideningly amusing.

                      The reason they ask for your information is so that they can send you "buy one get one free" coupons on your birthday and anniversary, so that $30 all-in meal costs $15, a much more reasonable rate for GringoMex with a healthy portion of character on the side.

                      I'd definitely recommend trying it once. With the coupon.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster
                        c
                        carter Aug 11, 2010 04:45 PM

                        To go just to get a coupon for a place not worthy of ONE visit, so you can potentially have two visits leaves me bewildered.
                        GoT for $15 is still too much.
                        You can do better at El Cholo, El Compadre, Barragan's, El Coyote (yes, El Coyote), Lares, The Talpa, Don Antonio's, Lucy's El Adobe, etc.

                        -----
                        Lucy's El Adobe Cafe
                        5536 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                        The Talpa
                        11751 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                        1. re: carter
                          ipsedixit Aug 11, 2010 04:49 PM

                          It's really not just the food, nor the price, necessarily ... but that incessant annoying "entertainment" that comes along with the meal.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            c
                            carter Aug 11, 2010 04:56 PM

                            You got that right.
                            And the ceilings are fairly low, and it really intrudes on your entire evening and ruins any possible conversation you might want to have, unless you want to talk about how bad the food is, in which case, that may be their justification for playing the music!

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              Mr Taster Aug 11, 2010 05:07 PM

                              I think the disconnect here is that you're experiencing and evaluating Taxco they way you would a restaurant. It's not a restaurant. It's a time warp... a throwback to some weird parallel cartoon universe filled with mariachis and old white people who love brown and orange carpeting, and sombreros and pinatas, ridiculously over trilled errrrrrrrrrrrrays, and nostalgia for a time that never was, all converging into this heady and slightly nauseating brew which stirs you up and fills you up and sends you on your way. I think it's fantastic. But I don't particularly want to go back.

                              Mr Taster

                            2. re: carter
                              Mr Taster Aug 11, 2010 04:54 PM

                              I got my first coupon online, but it looks like their website is currently out of commission. (I can't even get there with the Wayback Machine).

                              I've got a stack of them gathering dust somewhere if you want some!

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: carter
                                Will Owen Aug 12, 2010 01:11 PM

                                Yes, El Coyote. It's the Mexican equivalent to Buca di Beppo: the food is (mostly) edible, but that's not why you go there. Unlike the mariachi joints (we regard "Mariachis Nightly" much as we do "Kids Eat Free!", as a dire warning) El Coyote's entertainment is provided by some eccentric waitresses and the customers themselves. Try going some night when someone else is the Designated Driver, and you'll see what I mean.

                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                s
                                scscr Aug 12, 2010 07:11 AM

                                Strongly disagree!!!!! Do not go to this place even if they pay you. The info card is like getting unwanted e-mail spam at the end of your meal and if you want kitschy or character...go to the theater! Why would you tell anyone to go to a place on your B-day or anniversery that sucks this bad?....Denny's gives free meals on your b-day, but you don't see anyone recommending that option. IMO, this board is about food and the food is terrible.

                            3. trolley Aug 12, 2010 01:45 PM

                              guess you've never been to Ernie's in Eagle Rock or Fiesta Grande in South Pasadena. Although, Gardens of Taxco is bad, there's a whole colony of bad mexican restaurants out there waiting to serve you a bad meal.

                              -----
                              Gardens of Taxco
                              1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: trolley
                                ipsedixit Aug 12, 2010 01:59 PM

                                Like I said above, what really sets Gardens of Taxco apart from the plethora of bad Mexican restuarants is the "entertainment".

                                The whole experience sort of reminds me of what it would be like going to (the now defunct) Santa's Village in the dead of summer would be like.

                                -----
                                Gardens of Taxco
                                1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                                1. re: trolley
                                  Will Owen Aug 12, 2010 02:02 PM

                                  I *THINK* Fiesta Grande in SoPas got scraped off the map, along with the used-bread store next door. That whole side of the street is being redeveloped. We thought the food was adequate, but the atmosphere was not interesting enough to rate as Good Bad, and they had no booze. Both thumbs down, despite points for having no mariachis either...

                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                    trolley Aug 12, 2010 07:04 PM

                                    Unfortunately, Fiesta Grande AND the used bread store are both still there :( just walked by them this afternoon. the corner just ahead got redeveloped into condos/mixed use. we could really use a decent mexican place near by. for us the food was old and too salty.

                                2. monkuboy Aug 12, 2010 07:55 PM

                                  Wow, I used to go there quite a bit back in the 70's and thought it was pretty good (except I hated the entertainment). I wonder if my taste was bad or if it has gone that far downhill? Last time I went there was in the early 80's. If it is true what people are saying, that it is worse than El Coyote, that means it must be absolutely horrible. El Coyote is THE worst restaurant I have ever eaten at in my entire life. Not just Mexican, but for everything.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: monkuboy
                                    j
                                    Jwsel Aug 12, 2010 08:47 PM

                                    Nothing can be worse than El Coyote except maybe the food at El Carmen, the tequila bar.

                                    -----
                                    El Carmen Restaurant
                                    8138 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                    1. re: monkuboy
                                      c
                                      carter Aug 12, 2010 10:10 PM

                                      In dining at El Coyote, you will live to tell about it, regardless of menu choices.
                                      Every poster on this thread could name many places worse, yet should not do so as the mods would kick them out as it is not the focus of the thread.
                                      Worse come to worse, get the tostada, & as many margaritas as you can endure.

                                      1. re: carter
                                        Will Owen Aug 13, 2010 02:31 PM

                                        Mrs. O actually begs to go there for the green corn tamales. So do several of her friends. I have never had a green corn tamal that I thought was as good as you'd think they'd be, so I'll just have something else and one of those radioactive margaritas...

                                        I have eaten in much worse restaurants. I have eaten in much worse Mexican restaurants. I have eaten in the one and only Nashville Mexican restaurant several years before Nashville had any Mexicans in it. El Coyote is a star set high in the firmament by comparison.

                                        1. re: Will Owen
                                          ipsedixit Aug 13, 2010 03:15 PM

                                          I was always told that El Cholo had the best green corn tamales ...

                                          Are El Coyote's better?

                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                            monkuboy Aug 13, 2010 03:57 PM

                                            Well I guess I am fortunate since I have not had worse than El Coyote while others say such worse places exist, haha. I still stand by my statement. It was worse than eating a Swansons Mexican frozen dinner.

                                            1. re: monkuboy
                                              Will Owen Aug 13, 2010 04:47 PM

                                              You say that because you never ordered the Hot Tamales at La Fiesta of Mexican Food on Murfreesboro Road, ca. 1976. You people are simply spoiled and don't know it.

                                              We're getting a little off the true topic, I think. When I think Bad Mexican I mean Gringo Mex, and that alone. No attempts or pretense of being authentic in any way. El Coyote and El Cholo are actually on the edge there. As for bad AUTHENTIC Mexican, a place that makes the effort in a pathetic sort of way, our family's favorite is Amigo's right here in Pasadena. Mole is sweet, machaca bone-dry (I still like it!), and they manage to make their handmade salsa taste exactly as though it came from a jar. But it's friendly as all get out, they have a killer jukebox, and the margaritas are really, really good.

                                              1. re: Will Owen
                                                monkuboy Aug 14, 2010 08:50 AM

                                                Well you are right, we're getting off topic. : ) I just noticed the OP spelled "Taxco" wrong. Anyway, I guess I should count myself fortunate that I haven't tasted worse than El Coyote. I've been to Amigos and to La Fiesta and thought the food was passable but certainly nothing worth going out of the way for. I guess I really have to go way back to my childhood for my first true "Mexican" food: the El Taco fast food stand that was on Western Avenue! Mmm.. I used to love those predecessors to Del Taco and Taco Bell! Anyone remember that place?

                                                -----
                                                Del Taco
                                                370 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

                                            2. re: Will Owen
                                              c
                                              carter Aug 13, 2010 04:00 PM

                                              Like ipsedixit says, go to the El cholo in Pasadena for their green corn tamales, as they are quite good, assuming they are like the ones in the Western Avene restaurant.

                                              1. re: Will Owen
                                                Das Ubergeek Aug 20, 2010 01:28 PM

                                                The secret to getting drunk at El Cholo without waking up with a sugar headache is order palomas, not margaritas.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                                  b
                                                  badvlad Aug 21, 2010 10:21 PM

                                                  Aha! I always thought the problem was the tequila, I'm greatly relieved. "No llores, hay mas peces en el mar."

                                          2. l
                                            loreeLB Aug 14, 2010 09:51 AM

                                            Wow. First, Gardens of Taxco is more than about just the food, it's about the ambiance but you have to like that cheesy dark kind of place. I always get the chicken breast salsa verde, it's always good! And, the margaritas, wine or not, tasty. So my salsa might be out of a can, i dont particularly care to be honest, I'm out, enjoying the company more than anything and not having to do the dishes :) I've been going there on and off for over a decade and always go back.... it might not be for everyone but then again, neither is everything. The great thing about these boards are that they are based on ones opinion... you know the saying, like ******** we all have them and you know it's ok if they differ. :) I'm not a fan of fois gras but I know my beluga does that mean my opinion doesnt count? :) Happy Eating!

                                            -----
                                            Gardens of Taxco
                                            1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: loreeLB
                                              a
                                              apmende Aug 14, 2010 10:53 PM

                                              I've only been there once but the one time I went was pretty hilarious. I am Mexican/American and I speak Spanish and I took 2 of my friends (who were white) to the Gardens of Taxico to try it out. The waiter came out and told us there were no menus. He then began to rattle off a list of items from memory with such a huge accent that none of us could understand him. My friends were looking at me like could you translate this for us but I was looking at them like I think he's speaking English. I finally begin to speak to him in Spanish in an effort to make him feel a little more comfortable and to try and freaking guess what the hell was actually on the menu. This idiot continued to speak to me in English, which the united nations would not be able to translate. I finally told him (in a nice way) in Spanish that he needed to speak a little slower because my friends were not understanding him. He did start to speak slower and all of us began to understand him. This place is a dive and not authentic. The food was not bad but it was also not great. Apparently, they really want you to get the Mexico City experience because it was hotter than hell in there. I'll never go back. Next time, I am taking my friends to "Leos or Rambos" taco trucks in Eagle Rock. It's cheap and authentic.

                                              -----
                                              Mexico City
                                              2121 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                                            2. t
                                              torty Aug 20, 2010 07:01 PM

                                              I am going back many memory years - is this the restaurant that is a huge open room and you sit at communal tables and there is a stage with Mariachi band etc? If not, does anyone remember that place? Maybe it was mid Wilshire. Going back to late 70's early 80's.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: torty
                                                Servorg Aug 20, 2010 07:06 PM

                                                Sounds like you were/are thinking of La Fonda http://www.lafondala.com/

                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                  t
                                                  torty Aug 20, 2010 07:14 PM

                                                  Oh yes- Thank you!

                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                    s
                                                    SeaCook Aug 23, 2010 08:53 AM

                                                    I use to go to La Fonda when I was going to art school at Otis-Parsons across the street.. It was Okay.

                                                    -----
                                                    La Fonda Restaurant
                                                    15556 6th St, Victorville, CA 92395

                                                    1. re: SeaCook
                                                      Servorg Aug 23, 2010 09:20 AM

                                                      We went as a group made up mostly from our department at Hughes Aircraft back in the mid 70's and, while the food has been long forgotten I recall the entertainment as being fun. We sat upstairs against the balcony rail as I recall.

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