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Los Angeles

What are the all-time absolute best Mexican restaurants in L.A.?

I'm going to L.A. this summer for an internship and it's my goal to hit every great Mexican restaurant while I'm there. Not a lot of great Mexican food where I live so I want to take advantage of it while I can. What would you say the 5 to 10 all-time best Mexican places are?  I want to try them all!!

13 Answers

top answer by
Courtney from Los Angeles

You'll certainly come to the right place! There are TONS of great places!!! Here are a few of my favorites!!! 

  • Yuca's - this isn't so much a restaurant as a hut but a hut that won a James Beard award if you can believe that! The lines get long here but it's worth it--I used to go here all the time when I lived in the area. 
  • Lucy's El Adobe Cafe -- Not the absolute best Mexican in the city, but a fun place to go. I used to come here a lot with a certain group of friends and they were always really cool with our big group. And, since it's so close to Paramount Studios, it's a great place for celebrity sightings! 
  • El Coyote -- speaking of celebrity sightings, you're almost sure to have one here even though it's a pretty cheap joint. The rumor is that Sharon Tate had her last meal in the booth right across from the entrance. The food is OK but not incredible which is to be expected given how cheap it is. Well worth trying at least once! 
  • Gardens of Taxco - this is a great, fun place to go with a group of friends. Very good, reliable food and great drinks. I don't know if they still have them or not, but they used to offer great two-for-one deals so check to see if they have those before you go. 
  • La Cabaña Restaurant - I love this place if for no other reason than the decor--so 1970s you expect Mrs. Brady to come walking in. I go here a lot with a friend of mine for drinks but the food is good, too. 
  • Marix Tex Mex Cafe - A group of girlfriends and I always meet here when everyone's in town and while it might have the best food of any place on this list but it is LOUD. Like can't-hear-yourself-think-loud. It's worth it for the food., though and the drinks are crazy good. Do yourself a favor, though and valet when you come here--there is NO parking in West Hollywood
  • El Carmen - this place is adorable if a little hipstery sometimes. It has a Mexican wrestling theme with decor to match. The food is pretty solid, though so check it out. 
  • El Chavo - a friend took me here once for flaming margaritas and it was a lot of fun. 
  • Tere's Mexican Grill - this is a total hole in the wall with fabulous food--don't miss it! Not a lot of atmosphere, though, so don't expect much in that area. 
  • El Compadre - great food even if the outside makes it look a little sketchy. This is good, old-fashioned greasy Mexican food and I love it. 
  • Olvera Street Plaza - I've only eaten in one place here ( El Paseo Inn) and it was OK,  but my guess is there are much better places as the street is literally all Mexican restaurants and stores. I'd walk up and down a bit until you see a place you like. Plus, you'll just get a kick out of it anyway. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Yuca's (restaurant)
  2. Lucy's El Adobe Cafe (restaurant)
  3. El Coyote (restaurant)
  4. Gardens of Taxco (restaurant)
  5. La Cabaña Restaurant (restaurant)
  6. Marix Tex Mex Cafe (restaurant)
  7. El Carmen (restaurant)
  8. El Chavo (restaurant)
  9. Tere's Mexican Grill (restaurant)
  10. Olvera Street Plaza (attraction)
  11. El Paseo Inn (restaurant)
  12. El Compadre (restaurant)
13 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Andrew from Los Angeles

Let me start out by saying it is all relative to where you are in Los Angeles. The city is so big that it might take you an hour or more to drive to some of these places depending on where you are staying. I like El Chavo a lot, they have strong margaritas and good tacos. El Carmen is my favorite brick and mortar place though. Cool vibe and great food and drink.

Dont discount the taco trucks and stands in LA though. Nola has some alright food trucks going on but it is a way of life in LA. My two favorite pop up spots are Tacozone which is always set up in the evenings in front of the Vons on alvarado in echo park and then there is Yuca's Hut which is a stand and has the best carnitas tacos. All of these will satisfy.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Chavo (restaurant)
  2. El Carmen (restaurant)
  3. Yuca's Hut (restaurant)
  4. Tacozone (restaurant)
9 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Joy from Berlin

El Coyoteis my favorite sit down Mexican restaurant. Their enchiladas, green corn sweet tamales, and margaritas are amazing.

And I'm going to also say that the  Tacozone food truck in Echo Park is a MUST visit. Try their "mulitas" (pronounced M00-LEE-TAHS), they will change your life (you can get them with any meat you like, and they also have vegetarian options). Their horchata and salsas are crazy good as well. In my opinion, it's the best taco truck in Los Angeles, and I've tried almost all of them. It's usually arrives around 9pm Monday-Saturday and is there until about 3am.

If you want to try Baja-style fish tacos, then try  La Playita 7 Mares or  Ricky's Fish Tacos. La Playita has a stand on Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake, and their fish tacos are $1.50 on Tuesdays. And Ricky's Fish Tacos roams around, but you can find out where he'll be and his hours of operation via his Twitter feed. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Coyote (restaurant)
  2. Tacozone (restaurant)
  3. La Playita 7 Mares (restaurant)
  4. Ricky's Fish Tacos (restaurant)
8 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Brew from Manhattan Beach

The other posters nailed their answers (especially Courtney) but I would add:

Chichen Itza Restaurant has great Yucatan food (as Vicky previously stated).

El Tepeyac Café is a legendary east LA spot, with great burritos and machaca.  

Guelaguetza Restaurant is the original, go-to Oaxacan place in LA.

For a higher end Mexican experience, Border Grilland  Border Grill serves high quality Mexican food and is owned and operated by celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.  

While not "Mexican", if you have the opportunity to try the Mexican inspired Korean-tacos of the Kogi Taco Truck stop, you should do it.  The Kogi taco truck is a modern institution in and of itself.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chichen Itza Restaurant (restaurant)
  2. El Tepeyac Café (restaurant)
  3. Guelaguetza Restaurant (restaurant)
  4. Border Grill (restaurant)
  5. Border Grill (restaurant)
  6. Kogi Taco Truck stop (restaurant)
7 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Jeff from Los Angeles

Casa Vega in Studio City, wonderful Mexican food in a sit down restaurant with a standing-room-only packed bar at happy hour. For a taco stand, I'd recommend La Fogata Mexican Restaurant in Van Nuys, but burritos are the thing there. For authentic Mexican in East L.A. try La Parrilla in Boyle Heights. For unreal Margaritas, indulgent tacos, and pig's ears nachos there is the one and only Petty Cash Taqueria. It is probably the best Mexican food in the city, but prepared by a classically trained French chef.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. La Parrilla (restaurant)
  2. Petty Cash Taqueria (restaurant)
  3. Casa Vega (restaurant)
  4. La Fogata Mexican Restaurant (restaurant)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Vicky from Los Angeles

There are so many great Mexican places in LA. My recent favorite is  Chichen Itza Restaurant, located inside Mercado La Paloma, close to USC and Exposition Park. I fell in love with Yucatan food when I went to Merida 2 years ago, and Chichen Itza serves authentic Yucatan food like cochinita pibil and poc chuc as well as fish tacos and ceviches. Try the Agua de Chaya. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chichen Itza Restaurant (restaurant)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Tim from Los Angeles

A lot of great ones have been added; I'd certainly second  Cacao Mexicatessen. On the westside I really like  Tacos Por Favor for a low energy, inexpensive lunch (or breakfast). 

El Cholo is another fun one, better as a happy hour thing and good for big groups. Worthwhile tequilas to browse (last time I was there); portions are enormous and it's easy to kill some time there. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cacao Mexicatessen (restaurant)
  2. Tacos Por Favor (attraction)
  3. El Cholo (restaurant)
4 thanks

answered by
Claire from Los Angeles

Everyone's been mentioning some really great ones!

My absolute favorite is  Cacao Mexicatessen in Eagle Rock. You can get things ranging from duck confit tacos to aquacate frito tortas to huge salsa verde soaked brunch options. They also have mexican beers and wines, coffee bar, and deli items. The right mix of authentic and gourmet!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cacao Mexicatessen (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Seth from Los Angeles

One of my favorite brick-and-mortar taco places is  El Taurino at 1104 S Hoover St, Los Angeles, CA 90006. This is a very laid back place, essentially a storefront for a taco truck. Great place for late night food after a night out before heading home. Their Al Pastor tacos are amazing!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Taurino (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered by
Kelsey from Los Angeles

This isn't a "sit down" restaurant yet we think it's one of the best in all of LA: Tito's Tacos Mexican Restaurant (Tito's Taco). We go there at least once a week. You stand in line at a window and order (from a very limited menu) then you move to side while someone makes your "box." They pack everything in these boxes with tops and fill them with chips. Then when you see your person come back with your "box," you step up and pay. You can only use cash and they give 50 cent pieces in change. I get a tostada and a medium guacamole. The guacamole isn't chunky - it's super smooth and so delicious! We take the food home to eat yet you can eat at one of the tables there if you'd like. I prefer Trader Joe's Blue Corn chips with my guacamole. They have a small parking lot yet you can park on Washington - just be sure to feed the meter if it's during paid hours. Enjoy! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tito's Tacos Mexican Restaurant (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered by
Julia from Los Angeles

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Conquistador (restaurant)
  2. Casa Vega (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Buana from Nome

WELL THANK GOD! Someone (who lived in the Los Felize area suggested #1 all time FOREVER IS "Yuca's Taqueria" Serving traditional LATINO ALIMENTOS FOODS. 2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Note* It is called Yucca's Hut, as in Outside, maybe to go or Leave. There is no formal seating Ha! Ha! Eat the Best and be quiet about the Rest!

#2) El Tepeyac Café (Boyle Heights, Ah...East LA Man!) 812 N Evergreen Ave. Next door to the Pet shop that Sells the Chickens (Or Roosters) you'll soon eat! 

That "Hole in Wall" is not the other side of that Pet Shop but #3) Ciros! Ah Come On Man! You'll get over eating with the LAPD, Because this Traditional Mex-Food is also a favorite local place to eat. It is Really Next door to El Tepeyac on 705 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033.

Ahora la comida rápida! Tex-Mex, Or Fast Food! It has to be, No it can't (Taco Bell?). It's #4) King Taco! Nothing Healthy or low fat OK? Or there would be one issue! No Flavor! KT's ARE everywhere but you will find many of them in East LA...Really? You would think that can't be! But it is true! Oh and there is a fair share of great tasting dishes that only can be eaten once a week or you will end up in your hospital's Coronary Care  Unit!

Finally, "Whoa!" As Abe Lincoln (robotic Avatar) says in the New Illinois State Vacation Ads. It cannot be ALL about just the food! So #5) Margarita Jones Mexican Restaurant at 541 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105. This is an open, lively place to Meet, Eat, danza (Dance), AND maybe get lucky! The food is BOTH Traditional and Tex-Mex. And it is VERY good with the atmosphere!

In the end if you are FINALLY tired of all this Mexican Foods that Really is NOT Mexican food! You can then Visit a Place that in It's Name there is No mention of that Menu item! Of Course I'm talking about Burger Continental! Remember SNL's skit on the Greek brothers who make JUST Cheeseburgers with Chips and Pepsi? This is as close as it gets! EXCEPT Burgers are normally Not on the menu, BUT FANTASTIC Mediterranean Greek-Like Food Is! 535 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Remember to NOT eat off any Mex-Food that Moves on Wheels! UNLESS...they are there EVERY day!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Yuca's Taqueria (restaurant)
  2. El Tepeyac Café (restaurant)
  3. Ciros (restaurant)
  4. King Taco (restaurant)
  5. Margarita Jones Mexican Restaurant (restaurant)
  6. Burger Continental (restaurant)
1 thanks

answered by
Manuri from Los Angeles

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. King Taco Restaurant (restaurant)

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