1300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA | Directions 9001734.053773 -118.266898
Neighborhoods: Westlake, Central LA
bland but wholesome – Overall, a disappointment, but with a couple of important exceptions (please read entire review):
The service is good and atmosphere quaintly quiet and intimate, the preparation and (most) ingredients are of high quality, that's the good news.
If you're looking for a quiet place to meet and talk, you could do much worse.
The cuisine, however, is something of a let-down.
To my tastes, Mexican food evokes a certain amount of flavor and texture and zest.
I'm not talking spicy-hot here, in fact I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to food that bites back and clears my sinuses.
I first dined here last November, meeting with my half-brother while he was in town.
I ordered a seafood enchilada, and might as well have been handed a slab of microwaved tofu.
The shrimp were those tiny bay shrimp, not what I'd expect to find inside a tortilla, and the crab mushy and flavorless, and if any seasonings were used, I couldn't taste them. I'd have done better with imitation crab at three bucks a pound at Ralphs, at least that stuff has texture. The corn tortilla was apparently steamed, no cheese or sauce toppings.
Because I was dining with family, I didn't raise any fuss at the time because I was dining with family, but several months later I came across a show called "Kitchen Nightmares" and that got me thinking. I decided to post a review, but decided I should contact management to see what went wrong.
Management invited me to come back in and try a 'replacement' meal of equal value. Turns out he is never there when he's supposed to be, so I was never able to talk with him in detail about the experience, and it wasn't clear whether he even understood the problem. But when I showed up and he wasn't there, a friendly, very-professional waitress who spoke and understood pretty fluent English eventually showed up and greeted me.
I described the flavorless, disappointing experience, she confirmed that it had been prepared and served correctly. So I tried something else.
The hard-shell beef taco and beef enchilada proved to be equally bland. The rice and refried beans were standard fare, chips came with salsa that was too hot for me to handle.
The waitress said their customers preferred the meals bland, so if you want bland, mid-priced mexican food in a pleasant atmosphere...
And that is the other exception.
The reason I was dining here with my half-brother, the reason he was in town, is that he has Crohn's disease, and just up the street is Good Samaritan Hospital, which has a clinic specializing in digestive disorders, and whose own kitchen is much more disappointing than this place can ever be.
They don't advertise it, but their meal menu apparently caters to digestive disorders with low tolerance for seasoning.
And, while the flavor is missing, the quality doesn't appear to be. Setting aside the conundrum of serving chips with dangerously-hot salsa, it's probably a pretty good dining experience for connisseurs of bland food (blandies?)
They still need to use bigger shrimp.
Their coffee is AMAZING and the food is good, too. – A friend of mine took me here, raving about the food, but it was the coffee I fell in love with. I wasn't particularly hungry, so I didn't eat all that much, but what I had was delicious. I had never experienced a restaurant where they serve meals for two in heated clay pots, which was very interesting and made for a quite tasty meal. However... it's the coffee that I found amazing. I literally had six cups of it before I was done. I've never had better coffee anywhere in Los Angeles.
Good food – Had a great meal. Not the usual place I would go but glad I did.
If you like Mexican food this is the place.
Fun atmosphere, food not impressive – The restaurant itself is a little kitchy, but in a good way. They have people playing the guitar that serenade the tables (although some aren't the slightest bit authentic - just a white guy with a guitar). The servers wear what appears to be Mexican clothing. But, I go restaurants more for the food than anything else - and the food was disappointing. They serve some of the most boring rice I've ever seen in a Mexican restaurant. The beans are just your typical refried beans with a little cheese thrown on top. And the entree itself was bland and unexciting. I won't be back. You can find Mexican food for much less that tastes much better.
Authentic south-of-the-border fare and vibrant family atmosphere offer a true taste of East L.A. – In Short
Gaudy decor recalls the Mexican kitsch institution El Cholo but this is the real deal: festively costumed waitresses and roving mariachis who, for small tips, engage in four-part harmonies. Homemade tortillas and queso fundido--molten cheeses with additions like chipotle peppers or crumbled chorizo--whet the appetite for camarones Costa Azul (bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed shrimp), and molcajete azteca, a bowlful of panela cheese, cactus and any combination of grilled steak, chicken or shrimp, all in tomato-chili salsa. Flan follows for dessert.
De-Lic-Ioso!!! – Went for Lunch. If you like spicy get the Filete Al Chipotle (flank steak smothered in a spicy chipotle sauce on a bed of tortillas), although everything on the menu looked good! Their salsas are fantastic, and their macaroni soup (comes with all(?) meals) is delish. I don't know how they make their beans, but these are in a broth with bacon and chiles. Fantastic. Service great, prices very reasonable for amount of food you get. Bring quarters for parking on street.
Authentic Mexican – I had a plate that was based on steak/carne asada. Some of the best stake pieces I have eaten. Combined with flour tortillas, rice, lettuce and some bean "soup", it was as good as it gets. The chips and salsa were good also--quite picante. This is an authentica Mexican restaurant; it is not a romantic restaurant.
Only bad thing was that I stayed 10 minutes too long and got a $45 parketing ticket (I parked at a meter but I think they have free parking).
What is all the hype about? – I recently visited La Parrilla and I don't know what all the hype is about. I went with another person on a Tuesday night and the seating wasn't that good and the service was fair. The waitress forgot my margaritas a couple of times and there was no greenhouse to sit in. The food was fair, but definitley not romantic and not worth the price.
Hasn't let me down yet. – I love the Cesar Chavez location, but since it's been closed for remodeling, my cravings have been so strong that I've come to this location. Still the best. The food here is so delicious, and filling. Food so good it needs nothing to dress it up. Try the nopalitos (cactus) stuffed with shrimp. All of their tortillas are fresh and hand made and the service is friendly. This location seems better apt at servicing larger groups than the one in East Los Angeles, but they are remodeling, so it may improve. Make reservations for groups over 5 for either location, just incase. OH, they have a great vegetarian selection.
Coming home again............... – This restaurant is in an old, Victorian home where you can eat by the fireplace, or sit in the greenhouse overlooking the Bird Refuge. It's close to the highway although you would never know it.
I was introduced to this restaurant when my daughter suggested we come here one evening before heading back to LA. We were dressed very casual and I hesitated going in when I saw what the place looked like, but my daughter had been here before and she said we were dressed just fine. She was right, some people were dressed for a night on the town and others were as casual as we were.
The food was excellent. I had the salmon and also one of the best Cesar salads I've had. I'm not in the area often, but whenever I'm in Santa Barbara I will make sure this stop is on my list.
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