At the French restaurant where they both worked previously, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger discovered decidedly un-French cuisine in the privacy of the kitchen: homespun Oaxacan and Yucatan recipes prepared by their fellow chefs. The duo promptly untied their aprons, loaded them into a VW Beetle, and took off for a road trip to Mexico in 1985, where they sampled and studied delicacies prepared at beachside taco stands and family barbecues. Six restaurants, five cookbooks, hundreds of episodes of Food Network's Too Hot Tamales, and sizzling appearances on Top Chef Masters later, their quartet of Border Grill locations add contemporary twists to authentic Mexican cuisine.
Guests are greeted by dining rooms originally designed by the architect Josh Schweitzer, who is Mary Sue's husband and Susan's childhood friend. Within their walls, plates of seasonal vegetables and domestic beef roll into handmade tortillas or revel beneath cotija cheese. Devoted to sustainable eating, particularly at the downtown Los Angeles location, Border Grill infuses its dishes with sustainable seafood, organic rice, and hormone-free meats, as well as Good for the Planet, Good for You meals made from at least 80% plant-based ingredients, just like Captain Planet's faux-leather jacket.: