When you live so close to the border with Mexico, you grow accustomed to eating Mexican cuisine — and you grow even more accustomed to acknowledging the great divide between “subpar” and “great” Mexican food. Los Angeles visitors won’t want to miss out on these great restaurants, where they experience the best authentic Mexican food north of the border. This is our master list!
Sonoratown. Downtown LA is a haven for great food, but this is where you’ll find the best Mexican cuisine. It’s a somewhat indistinct hole-in-the-wall at first glance, but the line out the door should make you grant it a second look. The chefs use fresh ingredients, delectable meats, and make the tortillas in-house on a daily basis. You can spend as much money here as you like, but it’s also possible to escape after only spending a few bucks if you’re on a serious budget.
Broken Spanish. This is another Downtown Los Angeles staple where you’ll find a much less lively crowd. Don’t head to Broken Spanish until you’re ready to break the bank, because not only is the food some of the best you’ll ever have tasted, you’ll also want to drink some wine. This is where you go for a low-key night out (or after a more rowdy night on the town when you’re ready to wind down).
El Compadre. What’s a visit to LA without Hollywood? Try to get a reservation if you know you’ll be in town. Try the enchiladas. They’re drowned in melted cheese. If you need something to wash it down, this is the place to get your margaritas — they’re brimming with alcohol and, oh, did we say they’re the flaming variety?
Guelaguetza. Another must-see environment is Koreatown. Guelaguetza is more Mayan-based than Mexican, with a specialization in Oaxacan. Whereas you might want to venture elsewhere for tacos and enchiladas, this is the place to go for mole. Don’t go here unless you’re ready for a little noise. There’s a live mariachi band most nights. And look for the dozens of brands of mezcal!
Casa Vega. This establishment is more of a tourist trap than anything else, but you’ll find locals here too. Visitors come here for the rare celebrity sighting and seafood Mexican hybrid dishes like the lobster quesadilla (you know you want to try it). Casa Vega doesn’t offer patrons the chance to make a reservation, which means you’ll be lucky to grab a seat without a long wait. See if you can grab a margarita before you sit down!