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Truly excellent Mexican-American/Cal-Mex restaurants in the LA area?

Apologies in advance if this topic has been discussed in the past:

Are there any Mexican-American (as opposed to highly authentic, regional Mexican) restaurants in the LA area serving destination-worthy food? I'm referring to places offering the Americanized style of cooking of yesteryear that was ubiquitous in LA/SoCal prior to the 1980s: places like El Cholo, for instance, that offer enchiladas, burritos, taquitos, nachos, guacamole and chips, and maybe even Tex-Mex dishes like fajitas or Arizona-style dishes like chimichangas - only much better than the stereotypical gringo-friendly spots in and around LA.

I am not looking for "modern", fusion, or upscale restaurants serving re-imagined Mexican cuisine for a trendy clientele.

I've heard great things about Las Fuentes in Reseda. For anyone who's been there, does this place match what I'm seeking in terms of style and quality?

BTW, I don't really care about decor, atmosphere, prices, clientele, or even whether the place is decades old or a newer spot. Margaritas and such would be a nice touch but are not necessary. And it doesn't matter if the place has waiter service as long as there's seating.

Location is not really important either, but anyplace close to the Hollywood-Koreatown-Downtown area would be a bonus. To be honest, I'm willing to travel to the Eastside, the Valley, the suburbs, or wherever if there's a really good spot.

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  1. Downtown try http://yxta.net/ and see what you think. I think the Las Fuentes family of restaurants http://www.lasfuentes.com/ is generally chow-worthy. Over in the Santa Monica area you can taste test http://www.mercadosantamonica.com/ and see if it meets your needs.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Hi Servorg!

      I've been to both Yxta and Mercado for dinner and had really scrumptious grub and cocktails at each. Plan to return to both!

      That said, both of these places, owned by the same folks, seem to not correspond to the op's desired type of cuisine:

      "I'm referring to places offering the Americanized style of cooking of yesteryear that was ubiquitous in LA/SoCal prior to the 1980s: places like El Cholo, for instance, that offer enchiladas, burritos, taquitos, nachos, guacamole and chips, and maybe even Tex-Mex dishes like fajitas or Arizona-style dishes like chimichangas - only much better than the stereotypical gringo-friendly spots in and around LA.

      I am not looking for "modern", fusion, or upscale restaurants serving re-imagined Mexican cuisine for a trendy clientele."

      1. re: sel

        Okay. In a (probably futile effort) to redeem myself I suggest that they go to http://donantoniosla.com/ and start with a cup of their albondigas. Mea Maxima Culpa!

        1. re: Servorg

          I totally forgot about Don Antonio's!

      1. Have not been for years, but La Fonda used to be a lot of fun and served that type of food. In the Valley a lot of people like Casa Vega.

        http://www.lafondasupperclub.com/

        http://www.casavega.com/

        1. I think Las Fuentes is worth it. I have never had a bad meal there. Their chips and salsas are very good. The only word of warning is when you order a chicken dish, like chicken enchiladas, they stuff that thing with white meat. For me, that's a little dry.

          But everything thing else I have had there is tasty, big portions (enough for 2 or 3 meals depending on how hungry I am) and well made.

          There is no waiter service. Order at counter and pick up at other end of counter. Lots of tables, but it gets pretty packed at peak times. The parking lot is teeny, but street parking is available.

          Sol y Luna on Ventura Blvd is owned by the same family and the food is pretty much the same. It is sit down with a waitstaff, so that might be more what you are looking for. The prices are a touch higher, if I recall, but they operating costs are higher, I would imagine. It's all good food.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jelly71

            Las Fuentes has always been one of my favorites.

            1. re: Jelly71

              Thanks Jelly71, very informative!

            2. Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasis.