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Looking for a specific type of Mexican experience east of Hollywood...

I'm a huge fan of the atmosphere, service, and margaritas of the standard LA Mexican-American family restaurant--places like Barragan's, El Compadre, El Conquistador, etc. I'm talking about the standard menu of enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, with a few house specials and then some meat and seafood plates. The problem is that the aforementioned places tend to have mediocre food--at best. I'm wondering if there's a restaurant across the river that holds itself to a higher culinary standard while still maintaining the booths, chips & salsa, and margaritas vibe--or maybe even something in the neighborhoods just west of the river that I may have missed.

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  1. I'm wondering if there's a restaurant across the river that holds itself to a higher culinary standard while still maintaining the booths, chips & salsa, and margaritas vibe ...
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    No

    1. Try http://www.yxta.net/ and see what you think.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Servorg

        Thanks! I've been meaning to try Yxta so you've moved it up in the brain queue. I think its probably more chic than what I have in mind, but per ipsedixit's brief response above I might be asking for something that doesn't exist.

      2. I've asked and searched for this exact thing in the past and have come up with nothing. In a city with so much great mexican food, I can't understand why we can't have a restaurant serving up great food with great margaritas. But it is what it is.

        The closest thing I came up with is Don Antonio's in WLA. Not everyone will think their food is great here but I find that it's the best out there if you want a margarita to go with your plate of mexican food.

        1. Cacao Mexicatessen finally has a 41 license now. While that means you still can't get a margie, at least you can get a proper beer / wine w/ the mole and enchiladas.

          El Cid has a brand new chef, and they're not just serving chips & salsa these days.

          There's also Malo's, but that's obvs west of the river (as is El Cid).

          There are a few booth + margaritas places in Boyle Heights/East LA, yelp 'em.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TonyC

            tonyc, since you're usually kind and generous with the suggestions about good places to go, i am somehow compelled to wonder if it wouldn't be more helpful to just name the joints rather than refer us to another website.
            i mean, sure, we don't want every poster to turn into k ___"my computer seems to have no google"__n, but isn't chowhound about recommending the good places?

          2. I'm with Ipse 100%

            Places that have better food don't have the margs, the naugahyde booths, etcetera.

            If I want that kind of atmosphere I'll go for a downmarket steakhouse with naugahyde booths, stiff drinks and a good steak. There are a few of those left but disappearing fast.

            4 Replies
            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

              For some reason the word "naugahyde" just tickles me silly to no end!

              1. re: ipsedixit

                It takes the roping and skinning of a whole passel of Naugas to make one of those big assed booths...

                1. re: Servorg

                  Our shameful past of our relentless quest for the skins of young Naugas. PETA is watching ...

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  oh put your pants on and it won't tickle so much.

              2. Kind of northeast of Hollywood, but Cabrera's in Pasadena is the real deal. Excellent margaritas, beans & rice, karaoke on weekends, but really delicious food. Main dishes are made from scratch, it's family-owned, and you can taste the freshness.

                1 Reply
                1. re: judybird

                  Cool, thanks!