Food & Drink

Everywhere in LA to celebrate not-Mexican independence

Jeff Miller Published On 04/28/2013 Published On 04/28/2013
Where to Cinco in LA

So you don't just celebrate Cinco by eating a bag of Tostitos then wearing the empty container as a makeshift sombrero again, we picked out the places with the best margaritas, guac, nachos, waitresses, and oh so much more: Best Margaritas El Coyote 7312 Beverly Blvd; Mid-Wilshire; 323.939.2255 There's nothing too spectacularly different about El Coyote's simple-yet-delicious margaritas, but that's kind of the point: since 1931, they've been serving the most consistent tequila + lime combo in LA. And by this point, it's so popular that when they call it "world famous" on the menu, it doesn't reek of hyperbole. Just limes and tequila and stuff. Get more info on this Mex-stitution Photo Credit: Tatiana Arbogast for Grub Street Craziest Taco Filling Metro Balderas 5305 N Figueroa St; Highland Park; 323.478.8383 This Highland Park hole in the wall serves all the standards -- carne asada, quesadillas, etc. But, on Saturdays and Sundays, they expand the menu significantly with eight different carnitas fillings that hit literally every note: you can eat pig butt... or snout... or, um, braised pork uterus. Check out these titillating tacos Hottest Hot Sauce Guisados 1261 W Sunset; Echo Park; 213. 250.7600 A long-standing favorite in Boyle Heights, both the original and the newer Echo Park location give your mouth real-deal spice bombs, like the homemade habanero salsa on their chiles torredos taco -- an assault on your mouth that's as painful as it is delicious. Click here for more on the spicy legend Best Guacamole Kate Mantilini 9101 Wilshire Blvd; Beverly Hills; 310.278.3699 The movie-biz mainstay does a tableside guac that just hits all components out of the park: the perfect consistency of mashed greenery, the right amount of onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, plus multi-colored flour tortilla chips with perfect crunch. Is it Mexican? No. Does it cost too much? Probably. Is it worth it? Yes. Get all the deets on this power lunch powerhouse Best Outdoor Space Cabo Cantina Venice 30 Washington Boulevard; Venice; 310.306.2500 Sure, it's kind of more of a Mexican-themed sports bar than the finest food experience in all the land. So what? Their outdoor area's blocks from the beach, which means bikinis, booze, and tortilla chips all baking in the sun. If R. Kelly is looking for a fiesta, fiesta, he should know it's right here, always. Click here for more on the party spot Best Nachos Tinga 142 S La Brea; Mid-Wilshire; 323.954.9566 Purists will complain that Tinga's not a "legit"-enough taco shop -- and that's fair. It's new-ish, it's not run by Mexicans, and their recipes have unusual ingredients. Which is exactly why their nachos (available at both the Mid-Wilshire and Santa Monica locations) are so amazing. LA Weekly also recently gave them props, and it's no wonder -- their cochinita pibil nachos've got non-greasy, super-moist pork, habanero salsa, Monterey Jack, guac, and queso fresco. Melted cheddar and pico de gallo just don't compete. If you like gourmet Mex-taurants, click here Hottest Waitresses Pink Taco 10250 Santa Monica Blvd; Century City; 310.789.1000 It's no surprise that the barely-subtle Pink Taco chain hires the honeys, but it's true: the Century City location, especially, has an aesthetically pleasing wait staff with just the right touch of emo sass. Get more info on the taco-licious chain, right here Best Tequila Selection Mercado 1416 4th St; Santa Monica; 310.526.7121 There are places with more tequila, its true: Las Perlas downtown, Tekila in Hollywood, etc., etc. But Mercado's the only high-end taqueria on the Westside with this sort of extensive collection: 70 real-deal reposados, añejos, and extra-añejos, for boozy aficionados who want to drink well without traveling for the privilege. Click here to find out more about the upscale tequila-slinger

Tatiana Arbogast for Grub Street
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1. El Coyote 7312 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (West Hollywood)

Underneath the ambience-enhancing Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, you’ll find all the comforting usual suspects -- fajitas, nachos, and enchiladas -- along with the occasional wild card, like OSTRICH tacos (!) and, um, burgers. On Tequila Tuesdays, they offer at-the-bar tastings and dollar-off 'ritas, ensuring that you can essentially already call Wednesday a bust.

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2. Metro Balderas 5305 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042 (Highland Park)

Don't miss this super-authentic, hole-in-the-wall-status taco and burrito purveyor in Highland Park. Lovingly named after a Mexico City subway stop, Metro Balderas serves up hearty carnitas tacos, so go hog wild.

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3. Guisados 1261 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Echo Park)

With a straightforward approach to tacos, the second branch of the wildly popular East LA taqueria adds a patiod to the mix, but sticks to the original, winning menu of homemade tortillas and a selection of various meats, fish, and vegetarian options. The liquor menu is equally pared down to keeps things simple.

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4. Kate Mantilini 9101 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

Even after more than 25 years, this power-lunch powerhouse in Beverly Hills is still going strong, serving upscale diner classics in its prime Wilshire location. No matter what you're after, KM's got you covered with a menu that includes martinis, a Muenster-topped turkey burger, dry-aged steaks, and an amazing tableside-made guacamole. For that last one, ask for Pablo -- he's been mashing 'cados for more than 20 years.

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5. Tinga 142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Mid Wilshire)

This La Brea taqueria is brightly colored and is serving up hand-pressed tacos filled with deliciousness like bitter orange, 72 hour pork, and habanero salsa. They've also got chipotle corn dogs (!), fried chicken, and super refreshing drinks like horchata, the stuff those dudes in Vampire Weekend seem to love.

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6. Pink Taco 8225 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (Century City)

Known for its margaritas as much as for its tacos, this trendy West Hollywood taco joint is part of a local chain that has met with controversy over its suggestive name. The Sunset boulevard location, however, is a clear favorite among locals for its ample seating and shady back patio, which makes it ideal for large groups. The eclectic decor and vegetation add to the fun party vibe of the place, which is an after work go-to spot for locals. Their solid Taco Tuesday deal makes Tuesdays rather packed here, and weekends are aways crazy—best to make a reservation.

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7. Mercado 1416 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Mercado is a modern-tinged Mexican joint steeped in luxury woods, leathers, and steel, with a menu that boasts tons of authentic, South-of-the-border food and drink. This includes handmade tortillas, enchiladas with sweet shrimp and yellow mole, slow-cooked carnitas, and more than 70 tequila options.

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