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How Are These Mexican Restaurants in Santa Monica?

My family will be visiting LA again and we're looking for a good place in Santa Monica. We've eaten at El Cholo on Wilshire and really enjoyed it. I realize they serve gringo/Americanized style food, but Mexican where I live is very poor as a point of reference. We wanted to expand our choices and in searching I found Gilbert's El Indio, Tacos Por Favor and Lares Restaurant as possible places. Have any LA hounds eaten here? We would welcome your thoughts and any recommendations on what to order. Thanks.

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  1. I'm a fan of Gilberts. I like their chile verde burritos, their pickled carrots, and most importantly, their margaritas. The people who work there are very nice. I've also enjoyed their chilequiles for hangover therapy.

    4 Replies
    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

      Border Grill is the best mexican in area, IMHO

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      Border Grill
      1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

        1. re: sushigirlie

          They've gone downhill; they used to be good, but the last time we were there, it was disappointing....the food was dry and seemed like leftovers.

          It's also too darn dark in there.

          La Sandia in the SM Place is much better.

        2. re: echoparkdirt

          The portions are TINY @Border Grill and its very expensive. There is a Living Social deal right now though. 20 for 40.00. Its worth it for that price.

      1. I love both Border Grill and Gilbert's - they are very different places, different experiences.

        Gilbert's is family owned, smaller, not as fancy - but with some surpassingly good dishes and good basics. And I LOVE their homemade pickled carrots.

        Border Grill is bigger, fancier, very nice food, and more expensive, a tad more sophisticated.

        It depends what you are in the mood for!

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        Border Grill
        1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

        1. If you plan to stay in the Santa Monica are, you have chosen some pretty good spots.

          Gilberts is a very warm, very crowded restaurant. Think El Cholo at a discount. Cash only.

          Tacos Por Favor is a local favorite, but very little ambience. Good tacos, though.

          Some other possibilities:

          Zengo in the Santa Monica Place has a really interesting Latin-Asian fusion menu with a $35.00 brunch including drinks. A real bargain for some really good food that you will not find anywhere.

          Monte Alban is maybe a couple miles inland from SM. Very good Oahuacan food. Known for their mole sauces.

          There are a couple of great taco trucks, one for lunch at Rose and 4th Street in Venice, and one in the evenings at Lincoln and Rose, also Venice, just outside the SM city limits.

          La Cabana is also near Lincoln and Rose and is an option for late night. They make their own tortillas.

          Others will certainly chime in with their preferences.

          I generally go to East LA for some really good Mexican.

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          Monte Alban
          11927 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

          Tacos Por Favor
          1406 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

          Zengo
          395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ogawak

            Tacos por Favor has some of the best red sauce I've ever had - addictive!! I crave their al pastor tacos drowned in the stuff.

            1. re: Ogawak

              respectfully disagree with the recommendation of La Cabana if you plan to go there when you are sober.
              if you go there when drunk. the food tastes better in direct correlation with how bombed you are.

                1. re: sushigirlie

                  I too concur on being drunk. Then it's not bad since you're so hungry, it's so late, and you're so drunk.

                  As a matter of fact - I don't recall ever being there sober.

                2. re: westsidegal

                  I had to chime in here as we ate at La Cabana last night (totally sober with multiple kids in tow). This was my first time at La Cabana (and will be the last). The food was mediocre and I had a really hard time communicating my shellfish allergy to our waiter. At one point it actually appeared that he was refusing to accommodate my request that they try to keep my food separate from any shellfish in the kitchen. It was really strange and awkward. Had we not been with other people, I would have got up and left. I'm hoping it was a language issue, but not sure as he acted rude about it. The one plus is that they were very tolerant of the little kids in our group and the tortilla lady gave them some dough to play with. That said, I would not go back. Would rather go to Gibert's or Don Antonio's.

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                  Don Antonio
                  601 W La Habra Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631

                3. re: Ogawak

                  If you all had read the post accurately, you would note that the La Cabana option is for late night only. No other place is open after midnight. Shame on you if you went there any other time.

                4. One other Americanized Mexican place that we like is Don Antonio's on Pico just east of Bundy. One of the best versions of albondigas soup on the west side (we generally start dinner with a cup). They do "ground beef" (picadillo) tacos, which my wife likes and I enjoy their steak picado with the serrano chili's added in. Good chips and salsa too and when the weather is nice the patio can be very pleasant.

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                  Don Antonio's
                  11755 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  1. Thanks for all your responses, I really appreciate them. Gilbert's El Indio did stand out to me, so I'm happy to hear your comments about the place. I'd never heard of Don Antonio's before so I'll check it out, sounds promising. I'll look at the other suggestions as well.