The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.
Though Cafe Del Sol’s chefs largely stick closely to the restaurant’s Mexican theme, they’re not afraid to throw in a few American favorites, either. Chefs are equally skilled at grilling carne asada and artfully preparing shrimp fajitas as they are at creating tiered club sandwiches and sizzling double cheeseburgers. The sunny restaurant is the perfect place to sample all the cuisine’s varied dishes or rank tortillas by their taste, texture, and which one doesn’t remind you of the napkin that ruined your last date by being so tasty.
Super Mex’s vibrant neon signs have burned 24 hours a day since 1974, beckoning diners in for authentic Mexican fare, drinks, and games of chance. Mexican flags flutter from the rafters and massive flat-screen TVs beam down from colorful walls, illuminating diners as they place bets on the number of bristles in Mark McGwire’s goatee. Meanwhile in the kitchen, frying pans simmer with authentic Mexican breakfasts and dinners, along with an extensive menu of healthier entrees—including low-carb options, whole-wheat tortillas, soups, and salads. At some locations, meals can be paired with horchata or buckets of miniature Coronas.
Although originally a Mexican restaurant, these days, Senor Big Ed is more like a trip to Puerto Rico, from the cuisine to the flags on display. And, as Miles Clements writes for the Los Angeles Times, “past those patriotic goods are wispy white curtains and sun-bleached walls…light and bright enough to recall a breezy beach scene despite its landlocked location on Lincoln Avenue.” If the decor alone doesn’t transport diners, the food will: helpings of mofongo (plantains, pork rinds, and garlic), plus roasted leg of pork and stewed beef impart signature Puerto Rican flavor, not unlike a bite of the fortress walls surrounding Old San Juan.