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.
It would be hard to find a group of people more suited to find a fresh take on the Mexican restaurant than the team behind Maria Maria La Cantina. The menu was designed by Roberto Santiba?ez, a James Beard nominee described on The Martha Stewart Show as "an undeniable authority on traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine." His menu was partly inspired by iconic musician Carlos Santana, who helped shape the globally minded live music program that sets up shop on Tuesdays and on weekends. He's also responsible for the artwork, the restaurant's name, and perhaps indirectly for any conga lines snaking through the giant, shaded patio.
There are plenty of classic dishes?the ever-popular pepper-crusted skirt steak, for one?but guests will also notice Santibanez's use of unexpected ingredients. Guacamole is bulked up with crab and shrimp, taco shells are lined with braised duck, and short ribs are blanketed in blueberry mole. The cocktails are equally inventive; the Key Lime Fusion, for example, hits the sweet spot between a pie and a pi?a colada.
• For $65, you get the Dr. Renaud facial makeover (a $130 value). • For $129, you get three laser hair-removal sessions (up to a $285 value). Mi Casa's expert staff make over faces and smooth away unwanted hair in a 3,000-square-foot spa. During Dr. Renaud's expertly designed makeover, clients relax in included robes and slippers as dermis aficionados thoroughly analyze skin and apply a cosmetic peel that leaves faces as pure as a soft-spoken golden goose. A hydrating serum replenishes parched pores, and a Lumilift mask smoothes, lifts, and tightens face canvases. Skilled hands deftly paint skin in complexion enhancers packed with horse chestnut to decongest heads and bolster microcirculation. Finally, mascara thickens eyelashes and a Diva lip-plumping balm renders mouths ready to kiss nearby puppies.
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.
Aqueous hues of neon blue and purple wash over visitors to Agave Grill as they take a seat beneath a larger-than-life strip of sinuous camera film. This cinematic environ hosts cuisine blending traditional Mexican dishes with Spanish influence, mimicking the confluence of cultures in Latin America. In addition to steaming enchiladas and burritos, chefs create entrees of tender marinated carnitas or steak picado covered in cayenne-pepper sauce. Schools of seafood populate the kitchen's specialty roster, from fresh-fish tacos to paella—in which simmering saffron rice is surrounded by sausage, scallops, prawns, and other morsels. Beneath bas-reliefs of Aztec and Mayan-style masks, the staff serves libations from a lengthy library of tequila and mescal, neat or spun into margaritas.
Agave also boasts an attached nightclub, where spiraling lights surround the revelers within. DJs spin tunes in two different rooms, one devoted to salsa and Latin rock and the other thrumming with R&B and house music—which is not when furnace and faucet sounds sync up to the tune of “Born in the U.S.A.”