Over the last 45 years, thickets of ivy have climbed their way above the pink façade of Los Toros Mexican Restaurant, where the Montano family has been sharing its family recipes since 1967. Inside, aromas from the eatery's signature bean dip, burritos, enchiladas, and steaks waft past wall murals and mosaics that color multiple rooms including a garden patio, a dining area with big plush booths, and a bar dressed in printed tiles. Here, live musical acts coerce toes into tapping as a balloonist twists oxygen into a menagerie of animal shapes and presidential beards. Bartenders enhance the festive environment, which won a viewers' choice award from Best of LA TV in 2011, with 11 beers on tap and more than 60 different types of tequila that pour into signature margaritas.
A pleasing jumble of bright warm colors welcomes patrons as they enter Salsa and Beer, where the kitchen turns out myriad Mexican favorites. Bean dip and salsa—always complimentary—flow freely with chips, and the chefs integrate housemade red and green sauces into tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. A huge sun painted on the ceiling watches down on patrons as they eat on painted tables, slicing into deep-fried chimichangas or chipotle-chicken flautas. Hues of lime green, pink, and orange occupy the walls and window paintings in the dining room, and a patio in the front is separated from the street by sculpted wooden barriers, whether in the shape of cacti or a wide sun.
When they founded it in 1975, the owners of El Indio Mexicano Restaurant hired cooks from the Michoacan region of Mexico to teach them the recipes of Mexico’s Pacific coast. Owned by the same family today, the restaurant carries on that commitment to authenticity, slow-cooking carnitas for five hours and cooking beans in a cazo, a large copper pot usually found only in the ruins of ancient Ikeas. The cazo is also used to cook a cornucopia of meats, including beef tongue, pork stomach, breaded steak, sausage, and charbroiled steak. These carnivorous cuts fill quesadillas, handmade gorditas, and 13 types of burrito that arrive unadorned or covered in melted monterey jack cheese and house-made ranchero sauce.
The chefs of Dos Arbolitos Restaurant cultivate an authentic Mexican menu by sizzling up south-of-the-border meats, such as fried pork carnitas, charbroiled carne-asada steak, goat in consommé, and garlicky grilled tilapia. After sprinkling these protein-packed morsels with traditional spices and smoky fairy dust, they slather them with piquant sauces or pair them with warm tortillas and sides of beans and rice. Tacos, burritos, and combination plates litter spacious leather booths and cozy tables in the dining room, where paintings and a flat-screen TV tuned to sports festoon yellow and salmon-colored walls.