Andale! Samba on Over to L.A.'s Best Mexican Eateries

Fantastic Mexican food is one of the best reasons to visit Los Angeles, for there's no better place on the planet (except for in Mexico itself, of course) to find the tastiest dishes originating from south of the border. From little taco stands (and the original food trucks) to elegant eateries specializing in fine fare from specific regions of Mexico, Southern California has it all. Even the James Beard Foundation acknowledges that the City of Angels has one of the best in the U.S., recently honoring Guelaguetza with its "America's Classic" award. Given to a "restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community" that has been open for more than 10 years, that elite award is rarely given to a Mexican place, despite the fact that L.A. boasts a number of other wonderful places that have been open much longer. The Oaxacan-style Guelaguetza opened in 1994; meanwhile, classics like El Cholo and Barney's Beanery have been serving up Mexican specialties since the 1920s; El Coyote since 1931; and Tito's Tacos since 1959. There are always new places springing up around town, too, hotspots like Chef Jose Acevedo's Mercado, which quickly spawned more locations, and Dia del Campo, which packs them in down in the South Bay. And beyond great food, places that make spectacular margaritas are hugely popular – like Ortega 120, where well over 120 tequilas are offered. They even have a "Tequila University," special classes to help patrons learn more about that uniquely Mexican libation.

Boyle Heights
Photo courtesy of Guisados Restaurant


Guisados began in 2010 as a small taco shop in Boyle Heights, with the idea of making Mexican food just like Mama used to make at home. Think meat and chilies in a simmering stew, usually served on warm homemade corn tortillas. The owners –...  Read More

Barney's Beanery Redondo Beach
Photo courtesy of Jenny Peters


Barney's Beanery in Redondo Beach is the sixth (and most recently opened) outpost of the famed chili and Mexican eatery that opened in 1920. Nine decades later the West Hollywood original on Santa Monica Boulevard is going strong; this...  Read More

El Coyote
Photo courtesy of El Coyote


A mainstay of Mexican food in Los Angeles, El Coyote opened its doors in 1931 and this family-owned eatery has been making sure that Angelenos get their fill of tacos, burritos and margaritas ever since. The kitschy decor includes Christmas...  Read More

Culver City
Tito's Tacos


Looking for the real thing in Los Angeles? Then head to Culver City and Tito's Tacos, the legendary taco stand that has been dishing out addictive burritos and tacos since 1959. That's the reason you'll almost always see a line; they are usually...  Read More

Loteria Grill
Photo courtesy of Loteria Grill


The original Loteria! Grill, this Mexican taco stand located in the heart of the Original Farmer's Market near the Grove is the first of Jimmy Shaw's burgeoning Loteria! empire. He now boasts six grills all around town, many of which are...  Read More

Hermosa Beach
Dia de Campo
Photo courtesy of Dia de Campo


Surf on down to Hermosa Beach for a modern take on Mexican food, presented by Executive Chef Tin Vuong and Chef de Cuisine Ken Johnson at Dia de Campo. This spicy spot that calls itself a "Mexican surf lodge" opened early in 2014 and has been...  Read More

North Hollywood
Photo courtesy of Mercado


There are plenty of Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, but the three Mercado eateries are something special. The newest is in North Hollywood and it continues the traditions of the other two (in Santa Monica and on West Third Street), as Chef...  Read More

Redondo Beach
Ortega 120
Photo courtesy of Ortega 120


Ortega 120 is the brainchild of chef Thomas Ortega and mixologist Demi Stevens. Together, they created this popular South Bay restaurant where first-rate Mexican food pairs with top-notch tequila drinks (yes, there are closer to 400 than 120...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Ed Kwon


Guelaguetza was recently honored by the James Beard Foundation, which awarded the Oaxacan eatery with its "America's Classic" honorarium. Given to a "restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the...  Read More

El Cholo
Photo courtesy of Jeff Peters


The family-run Mexican restaurants known as El Cholo began in 1923, with a small place near the Memorial Coliseum (which opened that same year). Now there are six of them scattered across Southern California, all offering up the classics that...  Read More


Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny