The menu at El Nopal reads like an encyclopedia of oaxacan food. A colorful, high-resolution picture of fresh guacamole and homemade tortilla chips graces the first page alongside a list of other appetizers. Some are familiar, such as quesadillas and taquitos, while others embrace unconventionality, such as nopalitos—a cactus salad tossed with fresh pico de gallo. A flip of the page reveals enticing pictures of enfrijoladas, or folded corn tortillas smothered in cheese and black-bean sauce, homemade banana-leaf-wrapped tamales packed with shredded chicken, and chicken mole negro, rich with oaxacan chocolate. Bilingual servers deliver artesian beers and wine to tables while English and Spanish pop songs play in the background. For dessert, patrons can dig into tamal de dulce, handmade from sweetened corn dough, pineapple, and cinnamon, or guzzle five kinds of oaxacan hot chocolate to prevent snowmen from growing in their stomachs.
Before you die, you must eat one of Chichen Itza Restaurant’s panuchos. At least that’s the opinion of LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold, who included the appetizer on his list of 99 essential L.A. eats. The turkey-stuffed corn tortillas kick off chef Gilberto Cetina's menu, which contains original recipes as well as Mayan, Spanish, and Lebanese dishes traditionally found in Cetina's native Yucatan. Among the selection of mesquite-grilled entrees is the cochinita pibil, a pork dish that Gilberto marinates with sour orange juice and spices before cooking it in banana leaves. The dish's “succulent, aromatic, tender, irresistible pork” is so sought after that Gilberto makes up to 60 pounds a day, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chichen Itza is located inside Mercado La Paloma, an upscale food court whose restaurants, bakery, and juice bar have attracted attention from local press. Patrons approach the restaurant’s counter to order their meal and then wait at linen-dressed tables for servers to present their selected dishes.
Taqueria Vista Hermosa takes pride on the authentic preparation of their meals; everything is made from scratch with the love and care that ancestors placed into their cooking during hundreds of years in Mexico. If you want to enjoy a great meal with the taste and warmth of homemade cooking this is the right place for you.
Open daily from 8 a.m. until midnight or later, Plancha Tacos nourishes burrito breakfasters and late night bar crawlers with a menu of Mexican favorites made with healthy ingredients. A creamy 50/50 blend of pinto and black beans tops off staples like the Jimmy Burrito ($6.99), also available as a low-carb bowl. The carb-and-calorie conscious can also replace tortillas with fresh butter lettuce cups, and can rest healthy in the knowledge that Plancha never prepares food using lard, MSG, or goat tranquilizers.