Joe Garcia has worked a lot of different jobs. As a child in California, he and his father sold fresh food to local markets. When he was 18, he was drafted into World War II, where he served as a paratrooper, and after the war, he founded a bilingual magazine, Mas Graphicas. He later went on to open his first Mexican restaurants in Huntington Beach and Castaic, and then founded two successful Mexican food companies to supply supermarkets with authentic Mexican cuisine. In 2009, he decided to open Famous Joe’s—a place where guests can stop in for the same traditionally prepared Mexican dishes that made him so successful in the past.
Famous Joe’s enchants taste buds with house specialties such as the fish tacos topped with a chipotle cream sauce and the extra-large burritos filled with anything from carne asada to chiles rellenos in a red sauce. These pair with traditional appetizers such as flautas or less traditional appetizers such as the Food Coma cheese fries topped with your choice of meat, cheese, bacon, guacamole, and sour cream. Mouths cool off by sipping imported beers, gulping glasses of horchata, or licking the napkins.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a catering menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients for a taco, nacho, or burrito bar. Qdoba's culinary crafters craft succulent fillings for burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, including protein-packing choices, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available. Taste the gooey flavor accents of the signature queso sauce, a three-cheese blend with roasted poblanos, tomatoes, and jalapeños, the pinto or black beans simmered in cumin and onion, or the creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Tortilla chips with salsa bar and desserts complete each catered event, and customers can opt for burrito-boxed lunches and any add-ons.
In 1981, siblings Enrique and Alicia Ramirez opened a small street-side taco stand and began to re-create the dishes of their childhood. The duo grew up in Los Angeles, although their family’s roots were in Guadalajara, the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco. Everything was always made from scratch in the Ramirez household, including tortillas, salsas, beans, and ornamental doilies, so Enrique and Alicia made sure to uphold these DIY traditions at their eatery, Señor Fish.
In the last three decades, Señor Fish has expanded to include seven popular locations throughout LA, each earning regular praise from local media. Yet the siblings are still just as involved in the restaurants' daily operations, captaining kitchen crews as they fold freshly caught seafood into burritos, tacos, and ceviches.
Housed in the Little Tokyo branch of Señor Fish, La Cantina Tequila & Botanas Bar is the restaurant's lounge counterpart, with an extensive selection of premium tequilas and mezcals that complements small plates of tacos, tostadas, and taquitos. Guests linger over sips of Mexican beers on the spacious back patio, which twinkles beneath colorful strings of hanging lights. The cantina also regularly hosts a tequila class in which renowned mixologist David Fleisher leads students through tequila tastings, margarita recipes, and the creation of tequila-based sauces. Other nights, the bar opens its patio to DJed festivities, DJed dance parties, and DJed quilting races.
The culinary pyromaniacs at El Vaquero pay homage to their homeland with poncho-patterned tablecloths, pictures of the cathedral in Guadalajara, and a specialty sandwich hailing from the state of Jalisco. Seated in the wicker chairs that line the cozy, sun-colored dining room, diners dig into a menu that features classic Mexican dishes such as chiles relleno, carnitas burritos, and tacos that can be ordered soft or crisped over the grill. Meanwhile, traditional art and black-and-white photographs look down from the walls, and a bell hangs by the register in case tongues are in need of a tiny fireman.