Grilled sirloin nestled into sour cream-topped quesadillas. Sautéed jumbo shrimp simmered in ranchero sauce. Cheese stuffed into battered Anaheim peppers. Such are the authentic delicacies whipped up by the culinary maestros of Sabores Mexican Cuisine, who concoct tacos, burritos, and enchiladas for dinner and lunchtime feasts. To bookend entrees, customers can commence meals with loaded nachos or end with a bowl of deep-fried vanilla ice cream.
For more than five decades, Manuel treated his fellow Los Angelenos to from-scratch Mexican specialties at the original El Tepeyac Cafe. Today, his son Marcos follows in his culinary footsteps at Panchito's, where he nabs fresh veggies for the restaurant's piquant sauces and impromptu still-life paintings. He honors his family's generations-old recipes by spotlighting his dad's signature burritos, machaca (shredded beef), and towering tostadas on his own menu, and he maintains each dish's flavor and integrity by preparing everything fresh daily from the best ingredients available.
Many restaurants blend American and Mexican food, but few show the cultural blend in their decor with great vigor. Hecho en Mexico showcases its culinary treasures in an old-fashioned diner setting—complete with counter eating, black-and-white checked floors, and booths lining the walls. Vivid yellow walls and colorful Corona banners add a south-of-the-border tone to the decor, and the eatery serves Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along with seafood specialties, tacos, and dinner entrees, the kitchen sends out fresh, flavor-packed salsas at the salsa bar, which can be eaten with chips or pounded down as shots.
In 1962, Alberto Heredia and his wife, Carmen, flung open the doors of Carmelita's Restaurant, introducing a menu of tried and true family recipes from Puebla, Mexico. Now, a third generation of the Heredia family helps simmer carnitas and blend avocados into guacamole at two Carmelita's locations. The dining rooms, which are bedecked in vibrant knickknacks and paintings, let diners bask in bright colors without getting yelled at by a judge for bringing a kaleidoscope to court. Against the electrically hued backdrop, mariachi bands play on special occasions, their trumpets rising in warm spirals above fiddles and guitars.
The chefs at Plaza Jalisco make all the classics—carne asada tacos, spicy chicken fajitas, plates piled with vegetables and seafood. They toss sautéed shrimp into giant burritos, layer fish fillets into tacos, and fill enchiladas with a blend of spinach, mushrooms, and salsa blanca. They serve many different styles of seafood, with the siete mares—or the Seven Seas—pairing prawns, octopus, shrimp, scallops, fish, mussels, and crab simmered in their own juices. To complement these dishes, they have a full drink menu featuring a range of tequilas. These can be blended into house margaritas or enjoyed by themselves for a drink as elegant and energizing as a gloved slap in the face.
Fat Burrito Mexican Grill strives to bring the border a bit farther north by serving hearty, family-style Mexican cuisine. At the same time, the chefs try to remain a bit more health conscious than other eateries by using USDA organic ingredients and never-frozen meats and by cooking their recipes without lard. These vibrant and distinctive flavors appear in everything from burritos and enchiladas to tacos and quesadillas. To accompany these meals, the menu also features an assortment of fresh juices as well as housemade horchata.
The Mexican flavor doesn’t stop at the menu, though, and Fat Burrito Mexican Grill’s brightly colored décor draws a fair amount of inspiration from its national identity. Various pieces of artwork adorn the sandy-tan, cerulean-blue, and terracotta-red walls. And a thatched grass umbrella even sits atop one of the tables, evoking memories of a sun-drenched Mexican beach or when the sprinkler went off in human resources once.