Super Mex’s vibrant neon signs have burned 24 hours a day since 1974, beckoning diners in for authentic Mexican fare, drinks, and games of chance. Mexican flags flutter from the rafters and massive flat-screen TVs beam down from colorful walls, illuminating diners as they place bets on the number of bristles in Mark McGwire’s goatee. Meanwhile in the kitchen, frying pans simmer with authentic Mexican breakfasts and dinners, along with an extensive menu of healthier entrees—including low-carb options, whole-wheat tortillas, soups, and salads. At some locations, meals can be paired with horchata or buckets of miniature Coronas.
Although originally a Mexican restaurant, these days, Senor Big Ed is more like a trip to Puerto Rico, from the cuisine to the flags on display. And, as Miles Clements writes for the Los Angeles Times, “past those patriotic goods are wispy white curtains and sun-bleached walls…light and bright enough to recall a breezy beach scene despite its landlocked location on Lincoln Avenue.” If the decor alone doesn’t transport diners, the food will: helpings of mofongo (plantains, pork rinds, and garlic), plus roasted leg of pork and stewed beef impart signature Puerto Rican flavor, not unlike a bite of the fortress walls surrounding Old San Juan.
The family that owns Tacos and Company is dedicated to authenticity. Since they opened the first of their three locations in 1991, they've been crafting burritos, seafood tacos, and steaks by drawing upon techniques honed at Mexico's food stands, rural kitchens, and guacamole rivers. Fresh produce and seafood, lard-free beans, and premium meats—like slow-cooked carnitas—join up with house marinade and daily made salsas. Every single corn chip lands on a plate the day it emerges from the fryer. Vegetarian options abound, too. The eatery's catering skills are praised by clients.
The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.
After the popularity of Anabella and Salvador Corona?s first El Pollo Norteno restaurant in Santa Ana, they began to expand to more locations, each of which serves healthy, homestyle Mexican food. Mesquite charcoal heightens the flavors of charbroiled-chicken dishes, and catering trays liven up parties otherwise filled with awkward silences. Family packs of dinners, along with tacos, burritos, and quesadillas a la carte, feed the entire family.
Although Azteca serves staple south-of-the-border comfort food, the decor isn't what you'd find in a typical Mexican restaurant. To describe it in one word: Elvis. Aside from walls filled with King memorabilia such as bobbleheads and signed posters, Elvis impersonators regularly perform at the eatery's Bobby Vegas Karaoke Club. It's all a part of owner J.J. Jauregui's love for the legendary performer, a love that gives Azteca its distinct character. Nontraditional environment aside, the food itself traces its origins back to 1957, when Jaregui's Aunt Connie served family-recipe burritos on Garden Grove. Today, the menu has expanded to include pork tamales, taquitos, and strip steaks smothered in housemade garlic sauce.