Tacos Uruapan takes its name from the hometown of its founder, who began his journey into culinary mastery nearly three decades ago with a simple taco truck on a street corner. Today, the Solorio family continues to own and operate the fruits of his labors, dishing out handmade cornmeal sopes, plump burritos, and the ever-popular tacos at a handsome Mission-style restaurant that commands the corner of a busy intersection with a thatch of palm trees and even a pint-sized turret. Kid-friendly nachos, bean burritos, and quesadillas abound, but so do traditional Mexican options including fried pork carnitas and beef head and tongue.
When it first opened in 1979, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill was a simple taqueria in Los Angeles. Its open kitchen gave patrons a front-row seat to watch chefs transform fresh ingredients into bold, memorable Mexican dishes. Today, the original concept has evolved into a booming franchise, but each location works on the same principle: add a modern twist to classic Mexican food. Chefs continue to work in an open-kitchen environment where they concoct seven types of homemade salsas—laced with ingredients such as fire-roasted roma tomatoes, cilantro and garlic, and even mango—to complement carne asada tacos, Los Cabos shrimp burritos, and hefty bowls packed with chicken, fire-roasted veggies, and plenty of cheese. The kitchen crew also assembles large breakfasts of eggs and chorizo, as well as huevos rancheros for early risers.
Since opening the original locale in 1985, Otaez Mexican Restaurant continues to churn out authentic Mexican cuisine backed by a fully stocked bar of tantalizing tequilas. Eyes dance across Otaez's lengthy menu before spotting a palate-pleasing appetizer, such as a skillet bubbling with melted oaxaca cheese and chorizo in the queso fundido con chorizo, or a fish tostada de ceviche crowned in avocado. Cooks cover their egg-battered pasilla peppers in hot sauce to protect the valuable cheese inside from dairy thieves with acid reflux. Blurry-eyed appetites can awaken with jazzy bites of cactus and egg scrambled in the huevos con nopales, and midday munchers grub on a host of tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Feasting groups can also indulge in sips of house margaritas, poured after being carefully shaken by a bartender wearing three pairs of mittens.
Head chef and owner Jose Meza draws from his extensive 35-year career in cookery and restaurant management to dazzle patrons with authentic Mexican stews and cutlets and burritos and tortas stuffed with pintos, fritos, and black beans cooked without lard. The focus on a healthy, conscious lifestyle even extends to the tableware, as all the utensils and dishes are culled from material that's either biodegradable, recyclable, or able to be repurposed for plate-spinning acts. Juicy ribbons of shredded chicken and carnitas or morsels of marinated pork and charbroiled beef stuff tortillas and tacos alongside zesty, aromatic onions, cilantro, and salsa. Flaky fillets of sautéed fish come to life under sprinklings of Jose's secret blend of spices, and crisp leaves of lettuce, creamy guacamole, and savory beans fill crunchy tortilla shells on salad plates.
For 30 years, the cooks at El Patio Original have prepared classic Mexican cuisine as well as dishes tinged with the zesty flavors of the Southwest. They grill hormone-free chicken for fajitas and fresh seafood for seven seas soup, a simmering medley of crab legs, shrimp, octopus, red snapper, scallops, and calamari. Vegetarians can dine on burritos stuffed with chile rellenos or chile verde con queso— a plate of sliced potatoes and mild Ortega chilies covered with melted cheese. At a full bar, servers pour glasses of beer and wine and mix desert pear margaritas.
Los Panchos crafts delicious Mexican cuisine from fresh ingredients and traditional recipes, filling its menu with more than 75 south-of-the-border standouts. Rather than calming grumbling tummies by taking a nap in a life raft as it gently sways away from the shore, guests may stuff them with burritos brimming with refried beans, guacamole, and a choice of chicken, beef, or pork ($8.50). Juicy pork carnitas can fill soft tacos ($3.25 each), enchiladas ($3.50 each), or deep-fried chimichangas ($5.75), or erupt from cheesy mountains of nachos ($8.50). Like a traffic light, chili verde’s sauce comes in a choice of green or red ($9.25), letting diners barrel into spiciness or pause to savor a mild chili flavor with each meaty bite.