Picoso Mexican Grill’s eight-entree menu is as no-frills as their mission—to serve fresh, authentic Mexican food. The kitchen executes this goal by charbroiling meats such as carne asada, chicken, and chorizo to juicy perfection before stuffing them into tacos and burritos. Crema fresca drizzles the torta—a Mexican-style sandwich on telera bread—and the eatery’s interpretation of nachos, dubbed simply “chips and meat,” lounges on a bed of lime-infused tortilla chips. Imported Jarritos sodas and horchata, a rice drink made with cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla, cool off a spice-coated tongue more effectively than sticking it out of a car window.
At the French restaurant where they both got their start, 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. Three restaurants, two gourmet food trucks, five cookbooks, hundreds of episodes of Food Network's Too Hot Tamales, and sizzling appearances on Top Chef Masters later, their Border Grill eateries 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, healthful plates enhanced by seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh salsas roll into handmade tortillas or revel beneath cotija cheese. Devoted to sustainable eating, Border Grill infuses its dishes with sustainable seafood, organic rice and beans, 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.
Before you die, you must eat one of Chichen Itza Restaurant’s panuchos. At least that’s the opinion of LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold, who included the appetizer on his list of 99 essential L.A. eats. The turkey-stuffed corn tortillas kick off chef Gilberto Cetina's menu, which contains original recipes as well as Mayan, Spanish, and Lebanese dishes traditionally found in Cetina's native Yucatan. Among the selection of mesquite-grilled entrees is the cochinita pibil, a pork dish that Gilberto marinates with sour orange juice and spices before cooking it in banana leaves. The dish's “succulent, aromatic, tender, irresistible pork” is so sought after that Gilberto makes up to 60 pounds a day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chichen Itza is located inside Mercado La Paloma, an upscale food court whose restaurants, bakery, and juice bar have attracted attention from local press. Patrons approach the restaurant’s counter to order their meal and then wait at linen-dressed tables for servers to present their selected dishes.