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Mexican in Highland Park?

That may be redundant, but we're looking for a place for dinner on Wednesday before attending a talk at Debs Park. Since everything Mexican near us (Pasadena) is El Torito quality, we'd love something with some character, better food, and good beer.

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  1. El Arco Iris on York is decent. Standard "combo plate" Mexican but certainly better than El Torito.

    http://www.elarcoiris.net/

    5 Replies
    1. re: JeMange

      I would not say that El Arco Iris is any significant improvement over much of anything in Pasadena. El Sombrero was a good experience the one time we went, a real neighborhood hang, and the food was fine. Chico's on Ave. 50 just off Figueroa was almost too authentic, but in a very good way; we've been there twice with a Mt. Washington gang who make themselves regulars. Our initial dislike for El Arco was due to the very expensive, tiny and weak margaritas; a badly-handled non-food experience involving uncontrolled unruly children drove us away for good.

      1. re: Will Owen

        WIll, I notice you have an axe to grind against El Arco, as you've dissed them on more than a few posts here. Care to elaborate on your experience(s)?

        And, to be clear, I'm no cheerleader for the place. I just find it to be a decent option when we're in the area and want sit-down Mexican with beer/wine/liquor options.

        1. re: JeMange

          There were two women and several small children who sat down in the adjoining booth; the children soon were running around, climbing up the back of the booth and banging on it, shrieking to each other. Requests that the adults should do something were met with open hostility. We went to the manager. She said, "They're customers, what can I do?" This was, by the way, after 10:30 at night. Things got uglier afterwards.

          Their food and drink would have to be rare precious jewels to induce us to return. They are not. The food is adequate, not as good as Chico's but at least it's more expensive, as are the tiny, watery margaritas. And I do not think a pack of raging hellions would be tolerated in Chico's, either.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Sounds like a recipe for indigestion.

            1. re: Will Owen

              I don't get it. If the kids are bugging you and the manager doesn't care, leave.

      2. Huarache Azteca - 5225 York Blvd
        You can cross off one of J. Gold's 99 essential LA restaurants if you don't mind eating off paper plates. Try the name sake with al pastor and wash it down with agua fresca or try the huitlacoche quesadilla, a.k.a. Mexican truffle a.k.a corn smut : )

        2 Replies
        1. re: six pack to go

          Huarache Azteca is fine in terms of food but the eating experience is bare bones, as you said.

          1. I'd have to agree with Will on El Arco Iris. Mediocre and overpriced. You would think there would be good Mexican in Highland Park, but the few good places are modest taco stands and taco tables, all without beer. Best Mexican food in that area is Cacao in Eagle Rock, but again, no beer.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                +1 for Chico's. They sometimes use a little too much salt for my tastes, but it's probably as close as you'll come to your parameters. And they're long on character...do a Google streetview for it and you'll see what I mean. The inside's completely charming, too.

                1. re: annagranfors

                  Only problem with Chico's - I could be wrong but I don't think so - is that they have no liquor license, so it's beer, wine, or those dreadful fake margs that even the waitress warned us off of. But for that food I'll choke down a Negro Modelo or two …

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    OP simply asked for "good beer" ...

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      If they have Dos Equis lager I'd qualify them as having "good beer" for sure...

              2. Doesn't Highland Park Kitchen have booze? They're not strictly Mexican but they have it on the menu

                http://www.facebook.com/HPKitchen

                2 Replies
                1. re: JackonCrack

                  Haven't seen a word about Highland Park Kitchen (aka HPK) on CH. Any experiences?

                  I only remember hearing about their opening on Eater LA: http://la.eater.com/archives/2012/02/...

                  1. re: JackonCrack

                    We tried Highland Park Kitchen. They do have a full bar, tacos, burger, flatbreads, etc. We tried the shortrib flatbread, the truffle mac n' cheese and a beet salad that appeared to be made with canned beets. The food was unremarkable and the service was kind of overbearing, but they really are trying to please. They also have a kid's menu. It's an ok option for those times when you have a combo of drinkers, kids, dogs, etc., but I'll most likely stick with Maxmiliano's.