by Mar Yvette - 482 Reviews - 150 List
As seen on ABC 7 ... If there's one city that's known for its Mexican food, it's LA. Everyone has their favorite hole in the wall and south-of-the-border spot for a celebration, but we did our best to compile a tasty sampling of the top Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, Orange County and beyond. (Photo: Guelaguetza's chilaquiles with Oaxacan string cheese.)
Updated: June 16, 2010
Hailed as a gem by foodies, bloggers and critics alike, this family-owned Oaxacan staple in Koreatown is where folks go for authentic regional specialties like chilaquiles smothered in red sauce and Oaxacan string cheese, super-rich moles and refreshing horchata topped with chopped walnuts, cantaloupe and cactus. Oh, and don't forget the crispy grasshoppers, a traditional delicacy.
Practically a Boyle Heights landmark, this welcoming spot has been serving Mexican mariscos (seafood) to delighted customers for more than 20 years. From-the-sea dishes include shrimp in cilantro sauce and halibut ceviche while land options include steak and chicken. There's another location in Santa Monica, but nothing compares to the original.
A hidden Westside pick, this dinner-only restaurant is on a sleepy stretch of Centinela. Families and friends celebrate special occasions here thanks to the live mariachi, outdoor patio and fun atmosphere. Favorites include tequila-grilled salmon, chile poblanos drizzled in brandy rose cream, chocolatey mole enchiladas and the complimentary chips, salsa and guacamole.
Another LA institution, this outpost of the famed Loteria Grill at the Farmers Market (there's another location in Studio City) is where to go for a more upscale scene with the same easygoing vibe. Standouts include the chicken in rich poblano mole, cheesy nachos and hot Mexican cocoa.
Its name might mean "bad" in Spanish but this Silver Lake favorite serves food that's anything but. The chewy chips that come to every table (along with various salsas) are legendary, but there are other items that deserve the spotlight: hard-shell tacos stuffed with beef (or soy) and pickles, killer margaritas and spicy chicken pozole just like grandma used to make. Plus, the place is just so cool it's no wonder it's always packed.
Perhaps the best-kept secret of the bunch, this truly hidden find in El Monte serves south-of-the-border dishes with a strong Euro flair. Chile rellenos are the draw here, offered in four varieties: shredded chicken smothered in gooey cheese and a creamy pasilla sauce; plump tiger shrimp in jalapeno sauce; ground beef with thyme tomato sauce; or a vegetarian mozzarella.
Long considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in the San Fernando Valley, this brightly decorated, fast-casual place is known for its large portions, reasonable prices and "gringo style" burritos smothered in ranchero sauce and melted cheese.
Located at the Mission Inn in Riverside, this Mexican favorite not only has a great location with its lovely outdoor courtyard shaded by lush foliage and palm trees, but it also turns out delicious classics like tableside guacamole, carne asada, spinach and cheese enchiladas, batter-fried chili rellenos and potent margaritas.
If the line outside the door doesn't give you a clue about this place, we don't know what will. The go-to spot for yummy Mexican takeout, this affordable no-frills joint turns out made-to-order combos like chicken with beans and rice, carnitas tacos and beef taquitos.
A local favorite for years, this Mexican restaurant is considered the best Ventura County has to offer. Burritos stuffed with shredded beef, beans and cheese are a must for meat-eaters, while the chips & guacamole and veggie-friendly fare is great for vegetarians.