Whether they're seeking a casual night out with friends, a private nightclub experience, or a formal banquet, diners find the setting—and the Mexican cuisine—they're looking for at Antigua Bar & Grill. Servers at the family-owned restaurant deliver color-splashed dishes to linen-swathed tables: ceviche, homemade mole sauces, and sizzling fajitas all make appearances on the menu. In the dining room, high arches frame rustic chandeliers and windowed walls. Meawhile, in the nightclub area, a stage shimmers under blue and pink lights, and in the banquet room, a spacious clearing facilitates mingling between bites of shrimp tostadas.
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.
Los Tacos founder Fidel Leos mined his experience as a maitre d’ and memories of his childhood south of the border to design Los Taco’s menu of authentic Mexican fare. Fillings such as shredded beef and fresh red snapper stuff the restaurant’s namesake tacos, and chefs also sling specialty steak dishes such as grill-kissed carne asada and lightly breaded milanesa onto waiting plates. Early birds dig into Mexican breakfasts such as chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, and meat-free forks can excavate a variety of vegetarian fare.
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.
Big-time food critics don?t usually write about fast-casual joints, saving their words instead for Michelin-starred spots with white tablecloths. But they've made a telling exception for Se?or Fish, a Mexican-seafood outfit launched by siblings Enrique and Alicia Ramirez in 1988. Soon after the restaurant opened, writers from publications such as the Los Angeles Times began to praise the Ramirez's fish tacos, which were inspired by those sold along the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Crowds began flocking to Se?or Fish's tiny Highland Park kiosk, hungering for the ocean-fresh fish and handmade tortillas they?d read about in the papers.
Three decades later, diners are still flocking to Se?or Fish, which has evolved into five popular locations throughout LA. Enrique and Alicia remain deeply involved in the restaurants' daily operations. We talked with Enrique about the highlights of his iconic eatery.
On Finding Fame: ?[In 1988], a top reviewer from the Los Angeles Times reviewed us. Once we got that review, tons of people started reviewing us?Molly O'Neill, a food critic in New York City, did a story on us on the front page of the food section in The New York Times. Afterwards, when people were on vacation [from New York] and came to eat, they?d mention it.?
On the Scallop Taco: "Not too many people have ever had a scallop in a taco. It?s kind of a novelty. We use 10-20 scallops, which means there are 10-20 per pound, so it?s kind of jumbo scallop. And all of our seafood is wild?free-range from the ocean?as opposed to farmed."
On Guadalajara-Style Carnitas: "Our carnitas are traditional to Guadalajara, where our family is from. We make it every day and use good-quality, expensive protein."