A colorful sign juts from Manny’s El Loco, proudly proclaiming “World Famous Burritos Since 1971.” Inside, chefs busily pack the eatery’s claim to fame with carnitas, carne asada, and chicken, or up the ante with rib-eye steak or chorizo. Forks and knives find a place at Manny’s as well, thanks to taco salads tossed with meat and avocado and enchilada platters paired with authentic rice and beans. The kitchen crew incorporates hamburgers and french fries into its primarily Mexican menu, and helps customers tackle the morning or their nemesis with eggs prepared any style, which they can take to go or enjoy on the outdoor patio.
Harbor Mexican Cafe's chefs stoke ovens and tend grills to build a menu with some of Mexican cuisine's most iconic staples. To fill each burrito and enchilada with authentic, homestyle flavors, the chefs simmer chunks of beef in salsa roja, make guacamole in-house, and hand-flatten ears of corn to make tortillas.
The Gringos Tacos family of guacamole gurus has retained their taqueria's catering roots while expanding into a restaurant and slinging tortillas from its very own food truck. American influences peek through in heaps of french-fry nachos, chipotle-aioli-drizzled BLT tacos, and guacamole made with Grant Wood paintings. Using high-quality ingredients and eschewing lard helps keep the menu of creative Mexican cuisine tasting fresh.
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.
Aromas of Mexican salsas, moles, and chile verde waft through Osuna's Mexican Grill, where executive chef Rosa Romero has perfected her menu for more than three decades. Build a nacho El Dorado by piling bean ingots and jalapeño gems onto chips encrusted with melted cheeses, guacamole, and a meat of choice. Handmade corn or flour tortillas encase savory shreds of asada, carnitas, or pollo on two-taco platters ($6.99), and succulent sopes charm palates with their bubbly crusts ($8.99 for two). Osuna's Mexican Grill fall line of burritos, Spanish for bean purses, come styled in eight varieties, including the Hollenbeck stuffed with slow-cooked pork meat in tomatillo sauce and drenched with gooey cheese ($6.99). Follow up famous fish tacos ($1.99 each) with after-dinner conversation and sugary disks of custard flan ($3.99) or arroz con leche ($3.25).
The first Baja Fresh opened in 1990 as a rebuttal to the country's spate of traditional burger-and-fries chains. Today, each location upholds the eatery’s original mission of providing an alternative to traditional fast food with a kitchen that fires meats, chops farm-fresh produce, and pours house-made salsa over grilled tortillas. Guests can nosh on tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas amid a dining room with decor more bright and cheery than the sun after it eats a bag of pixie stix for breakfast.