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.
Chino's Rock & Tacos pairs authentic Mexican eats with a socially conscious cooking philosophy, and serves them both in a party-minded rock 'n’ roll atmosphere. Two double-item combo plates can include crispy tacos and chimichangas that scale mountains of spanish rice with pinto beans led by chicken or beef sherpas. Mouthwatering fish tacos filled with grilled mahi-mahi, ahi tuna, or shrimp are fashioned with sustainable seafood practices, and the enchilada packs your choice of chicken, beef, or cheese into a pillowy tortilla. Popular bottled beers such as Corona wash down free chips and salsa, or supply the high notes during glass-bottle family-band showcases.
Since 1951, the chefs at Rose Café on the Mesa have been mixing and forming their own chorizo according to a family recipe. The sausage clings to cheese inside gooey quesadillas and spices up tortilla strips, eggs, and veggies in chilaquiles. A collection of other family recipes guides chefs as they make flan, enchiladas, and jam-packed chilies rellenos. Patrons can also order breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros all day inside the golden-hued dining room or take their meals outside to the brick-paved patio.
Frequented by guests of the adjacent Best Western Plus Encina Lodge & Suites, Las Aves Cafe strikes a perpetually rich note with its earth-toned furnishings and tall windows reliably ushering in natural light, greenery, and a view of the hotel's outdoor pool. In the kitchen, inventive chefs specialize in melding the highlights of American fare with bold Mexican flavors, creating plates both festive in presentation and on the palate. Diners converse over breakfast, lunch, or dinner while seated in the lounge area or bar area, where the sound of tall mojitos and margaritas clinking fills through the room as guests toast to the kindly staff for making them feel welcome and to their suits made out of welcome mats.
At Mauricio's Grill and Cantina, a festive atmosphere is just as important as a commitment to culinary tradition. Surrounded by palm trees, both brightly colored locations serve simple Mexican dishes ranging from classics to original house interpretations. Quesadillas and enchiladas are stuffed with ground beef or marinated chicken and then grilled. The aroma of shrimp sautéed with vegetables mingle with that of new york strip steak tossed in ranchero sauce. The kitchen also prepares a range of vegetarian dishes. At the cantina-style bar, servers blend margaritas and other tropical house cocktails.
Margarita Villa's upstairs dining room showcases Mexican cuisine against expansive views of the harbor and colorful floor-to-ceiling murals portraying seaside and country life. The full bar's 18 different flavors of signature margaritas complement traditional mexican burritos and specialty plates adorned with local seafood. On select nights, diners gather beneath the high ceilings with exposed wooden beams or under cozy heat lamps on the patio to enjoy live music. The building's Spanish-tiled exterior boasts a tall tower that resembles an Old World villa or the windmill that Don Quixote used to revolutionize alternative energy in the 16th century.