2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA | Directions 9040534.02489 -118.4593
Neighborhoods: Pico, West LA
Great ambience, horrible food! – After passing by this two-story restaurant and always seeing a crowd outside its cool-looking Spanish colonial engraved wood sign, my fiance & I finally made it in. Upon first entering, we were graciously greeted by an older, heavily makeup-ed woman whose name easily could've been Dona Maria. Big plus. We were then seated by the window, which afforded us a good view of passersby as well as the trickling-in crowd on the first-floor dining area w/the white plaster walls & dark-wood sunken bar. Very cool. After ordering some soup de camaron (shrimp) and steak, I walked upstairs to discover the very lively & urbane dining/bar area that led to yet another rear dining area w/mariachis walking around. Fantastic! Then... the food arrived. The soup was competely impotent -- bland, blah, flavorless with shrimp that had THAT DIRTY LINE OF FECES ON ITS BACK VEIN!!! gross! And my fiance's steak? Let's just say he took one bite & said he may as well have had a rubber shoe on his plate. To the restaurant's credit, our server was very helpful and asked if everything was ok since he noticed our stil-full plates/bowl. We just said we were full and enjoyed a song from the mariachis (who had by this time made it downstairs) and left. Very unfortunate that the food sux so much cos we really wanted to come back -- but I am Mexican-American and this food is in no way indicative of what Mexican food should be. Tsk tsk.
my favorite mexican restaurant – i love this restaurant. everytime i go, the staff is so friendly and prompt. the decor makes you feel like you're in quaint restaurant in mexico. the potato tacos are the best!
A Mexican dining destination... – Of the many Mexican restaurants that pepper Los Angeles like New York City Starbucks, this is very near the top of the list. The ambiance is comfortable and unpretentious, but nowhere near seedy. The energy spent at other restaurants forcing waitstaff to wear "authentic" Mexican dress is clearly aimed at making the food authentic here. Incredibly fresh chips and homemade salsa made their way to the table quickly, and came dangerously close to being too filling.
The menu is extensive, with many standard Mexican fares scattered among some more unique dishes. One that caught my eye was steak served with cactus. In the end I decided to go with the more traditional tamales. The texture was perfect, the chicken was roasted to an amazing tenderness, and the red chili sauce was a perfect spicy addition.
Waitstaff was kind and super attentive and the wandering flamenco minstrels were a nice touch.
Will make this a new West side dining destination, and will be sure to try a margarita next time.
Enjoy Mexican food, the mexican way... – Lares is a great. The food is great. The ambiance is terrific. The service is the best. The prices are adequate and I always go back. Never have a bad experience at this place, although it does get stuffy on Friday night. It's a happening place for being on Pico! Go and enjoy a nice relaxing night at Lares and ask for a special margarita.
great carnitas – i was hesitant coming back after the fire... but, i am so glad i came back. THE CARNITAS ARE STILL JUST AS GOOD and the don julio margaritas are just as yummy! the ambience in this wonderful restaurant is just festive. and if you are looking for tex-mex type food -- this is not the place to go. and thank goodness for that! i will definitely keep on coming back.
Old world charm and good food, too – Ambience is key at this hidden treasure of a Mexican restaurant, tucked away on Pico. From the old, world, rustic dining rooms to the roving mariachi bands on weekends, the place welcomes you into an inviting atmospehere of elegance and charm. And the food is good, too! Warm, fresh tortilla chips start off the meal followed by expertly prepared entrees that seem less touched by Americanism than at some of the other more well-known Mexican restaurants. For example, the fajitas come sans guacamole and sour cream, but they feature the most divine combination of ingredients! Parking can be tricky, though, so it's a good thing they offer valet service.
Never disappointed – I've been to Lares quite a few times for lunch with coworkers. It's a great little place, with a nice, friendly, atmosphere. I'd like to try it for dinner, as well, as the ambience seems to lend itself to a cozy evening with friends, or a date. The margaritas are excellent, as are the tacos...and you can't go wrong with the carnitas burrito! I've always had friendly, gracious service, and an overall good experience. I will continue to go back!
A Little Disappointed – After reading the reviews, thought I had found a great new place to try for our weekly Sunday dinner. I had the carnitas enchiladas, their "recommended" meat, and wasn't really very impressed. It was ok, but tasted like average greasy Mexican food. Cool hidden-away atmosphere, great service, and an excellent margarita round out the meal, deceide for yourself...
Amazing Mexican Food! – Decided to go here for lunch recently. After reading the reviews, I was pumped up. I was definitely not disappointed. I am a huge fan of Mexican food; I've been to El Chollo, Casa Vega, Border Grille, etc., and the bottom line is that Lares is one of the best Mexican restaurants in L.A. The carnitas were excellent, and all of the entrees seemed to be reasonably priced. If you want down home Mexican food in a casual setting, then this is the place to go.
Best of LA – Without question the best Mexican restaurant in L.A.--food, drinks, staff, and the rest.
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