Normally a dining room is nothing more than a dining room, but the cheerful space at Mama's International Tamales, with its brightly colored furniture and Latino artwork adorning the wall, is simultaneously a dining room and a classroom. The entire team under manager Sandi "Mama" Romero consists of low- and moderate-income culinary apprentices from Los Angeles's central region. Each day, the group puts her instructions into practice as they create authentically presented food from the Americas for their customers, while enriching their kitchen education.
The restaurant's namesake tamales are made from scratch and infused with flavors from a variety of Latin American countries. Other specialties include quesadillas with ingredients such as asada or spinach and mushrooms, as well as tostadas made with homemade tortillas and fillings such as chicken, tofu, and ceviche. Vegan cheese is also available to replace dairy cheese in any of the restaurant’s dishes or on days when dairy cheese refuses to come out of its dressing room.
Prepared from scratch using authentic recipes passed down for generations throughout the many regions of Oaxaca, Monte Alban Restaurant's cuisine earned the eatery a spot on Los Angeles magazine's Best of LA list. The honor is a testament to the restaurant’s culinary team, which crafts fire-roasted salsas, blackening seasonings, and handmade tortillas from scratch using ingredients from local sustainable producers. Dishes include tortillas filled with cheese doused in guacamole red salsa, a vegetarian turnover with squash blossoms and mushrooms, and five moles that include a yellow mole flavored with dry chiles, pepper, and cumin.
To wash down spicy bites, barkeeps whip up specialty cocktails and glasses of wine, beer, and Atole Blanco ó Champurrado—a hot drink made from corn dough. Feasts unfold in Monte Alban's cozy dining room, which surround guests with paintings of Oaxaca's mountainous boroughs.
"Tacos are universal," proclaims a video on Plancha Tacos' website. "Everybody loves them." That's why Plancha Tacos makes a taco for everybody, whether they prefer a soft or crispy shell made from a corn or flour tortilla or a low-carb wrapper of fresh butter lettuce. Diners can customize their meals with fillings ranging from grilled steak to beer-battered fish, or go with sizzling veggies for a zestier vegetarian treat than a steamy bowl of hot sauce. They can also dig into other twists on Mexican classics including shredded chicken fajitas, garlic shrimp burritos, and grilled tilapia salads.
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.
The chefs of Dos Arbolitos Restaurant cultivate an authentic Mexican menu by sizzling up south-of-the-border meats, such as fried pork carnitas, charbroiled carne-asada steak, goat in consommé, and garlicky grilled tilapia. After sprinkling these protein-packed morsels with traditional spices and smoky fairy dust, they slather them with piquant sauces or pair them with warm tortillas and sides of beans and rice. Tacos, burritos, and combination plates litter spacious leather booths and cozy tables in the dining room, where paintings and a flat-screen TV tuned to sports festoon yellow and salmon-colored walls.
The neon flames on California Burrito Grill’s oversize sign welcome patrons into a brightly lit interior lined with California license plates. The corrugated-metal counter offers patrons front-row views of crisp house-made chips, sizzling toppings, and staff constructing suits of armor from cast-off taco shells.