When it first opened in 1979, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill was a simple taqueria in Los Angeles. Its open kitchen gave patrons a front-row seat to watch chefs transform fresh ingredients into bold, memorable Mexican dishes. Today, the original concept has evolved into a booming franchise, but each location works on the same principle: add a modern twist to classic Mexican food. Chefs continue to work in an open-kitchen environment where they concoct seven types of homemade salsas?laced with ingredients such as fire-roasted roma tomatoes, cilantro and garlic, and even mango?to complement carne asada tacos, Los Cabos shrimp burritos, and hefty bowls packed with chicken, fire-roasted veggies, and plenty of cheese. The kitchen crew also assembles large breakfasts of eggs and chorizo, as well as huevos rancheros for early risers.
Head chef and owner Jose Meza draws from his extensive 35-year career in cookery and restaurant management to dazzle patrons with authentic Mexican stews and cutlets and burritos and tortas stuffed with pintos, fritos, and black beans cooked without lard. The focus on a healthy, conscious lifestyle even extends to the tableware, as all the utensils and dishes are culled from material that's either biodegradable, recyclable, or able to be repurposed for plate-spinning acts. Juicy ribbons of shredded chicken and carnitas or morsels of marinated pork and charbroiled beef stuff tortillas and tacos alongside zesty, aromatic onions, cilantro, and salsa. Flaky fillets of sautéed fish come to life under sprinklings of Jose's secret blend of spices, and crisp leaves of lettuce, creamy guacamole, and savory beans fill crunchy tortilla shells on salad plates.
For 30 years, the cooks at El Patio Original have prepared classic Mexican cuisine as well as dishes tinged with the zesty flavors of the Southwest. They grill hormone-free chicken for fajitas and fresh seafood for seven seas soup, a simmering medley of crab legs, shrimp, octopus, red snapper, scallops, and calamari. Vegetarians can dine on burritos stuffed with chile rellenos or chile verde con queso— a plate of sliced potatoes and mild Ortega chilies covered with melted cheese. At a full bar, servers pour glasses of beer and wine and mix desert pear margaritas.