For over 45 years, thickets of ivy have climbed their way above the pink fa?ade of Los Toros Mexican Restaurant, where the Monta?o 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 remodeled bar. Here, UFC, boxing matches, and Dodger games play from their TVs; mariachi bands coerce toes into tapping during brunch; and 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 16 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.
Hugo's Tacos' hard-working chefs combine traditional Mexican recipes with culinary techniques culled from Northern Italy, serving up an array of zesty dishes made from scratch and draped in seven flavorful salsas and fillings. The menu tempts diners with delicious tamales, tacos, tortas, and breakfasts fashioned with flavorings from culinary traditions across the Mexican landscape, from the traditional salsa negra of Michoacán to Tijuana's mysterious tomatillo mines. The flexible chefs delight diners of all diets with customizable meals often available in vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free varieties.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a catering menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients for a taco, nacho, or burrito bar. Qdoba's culinary crafters craft succulent fillings for burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, including protein-packing choices, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available. Taste the gooey flavor accents of the signature queso sauce, a three-cheese blend with roasted poblanos, tomatoes, and jalapeños, the pinto or black beans simmered in cumin and onion, or the creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Tortilla chips with salsa bar and desserts complete each catered event, and customers can opt for burrito-boxed lunches and any add-ons.
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.
Founded by connoisseurs of authentic Mexican street food, Benny's Tacos & Rotisserie swaddles its premium meats and fresh vegetables with handmade tortillas. Diners can settle down with a menu in front of the open kitchen and watch the spinning rotisserie slowly roast chickens as the cooks finely dice beef, seafood, and vegetables. In addition to its savory entrees, Benny's also caters to sweet teeth by crafting house-made horchata and freshly shucked churros. A covered patio allows visitors to sit outdoors without having to worry about the prying gaze of the homesick Hubble telescope.