With Latinos estimated to make up at least 48 percent of Los Angeles population, it’s no surprise that Mexican cuisine is ingrained in the city’s culture (not to mention the fact that LA was actually part of Mexico until 1848). The Mexican food scene is a rich and diverse community, featuring regional specialists, family-run joints, high end restaurants and indigenous chefs coming to the forefront. While there are many more deserving spots around the city than what we could fit on this list (and we left the taco trucks and stands for another article), we’ve rounded up 20 of the best Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles that offer a little something for everyone.
The 20 Best Mexican Restaurants in Los Angeles
Mexico City’s famed Enrique Olvera finally opened an outpost in LA with Damian, bringing Chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes who has worked at his other restaurants in NYC to head the kitchen. It’s worth the splurge to try the modern Mexican menu here: thin slices of smoked clams are beautifully layered with cucumber, crispy tlayuda is topped with queso fresco and shrimp shells and the large format costillas enmoladas (pork ribs with mole sauce) are served with Sriracha fried rice, a nice nod to LA’s melting pot of cultures.
2132 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021; damiandtla.com
2. Cha Cha Chá
This sister restaurant of Mexico City’s Terraza Cha Cha Chá has a lot going for it. It has a beautiful outdoor rooftop space in the Arts District, fun cocktails and some great shareable food. There are options for everyone from vegetarian mushroom tacos to tuna tostada with chile morita aioli to a large format pork shoulder confit carnitas, all served with handmade corn tortillas.
812 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013; www.chachacha.la
Indigenous Oaxacan restaurateur Ivan Vasquez has done much to make Oaxacan food trendy with three locations of Madre, each with a stylish vibe and a large mezcal selection. All three locations are great for trying his mole and learning about agave spirits, but the West Hollywood location has an Oaxacan tasting menu on the weekends and the largest mezcal selection.
801 N Fairfax Ave #101, Los Angeles, CA 90046; madrerestaurants.com/madre-west-hollywood
Just as the name suggests, Coni’Seafood is all about the seafood—specifically, Sinaloan-style seafood. The pescado zarandeado, a grilled, butterflied whole snook, is perhaps one of LA’s iconic dishes, though shrimp aguachile, smoked marlin tacos and other items are worth the drive to one of their two locations.
Multiple locations; coniseafood.com
5. Mariscos Jalisco
Though Marisco Jalisco’s locations are technically food trucks, they’re included in this list since a few of their locations actually have brick and mortar dine-in spaces. The claim to fame here is the taco de camaron, a deep fried taco shell stuffed with shrimp and topped with salsa and avocado—but the Poseidon tostada and the rest of the menu are also worth ordering.
Multiple locations; www.instagram.com/mariscosjalisco
This counter inside Mercado La Paloma is the best place to get Yucatan-style seafood in LA. Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr (who also owns Chichen Itza) brings in seafood from across the border as well as local seafood for dishes like scallop aguachile, served with avocado beautifully shaped into a flower, octopus tacos and kanpachi and uni tostada.
3655 Grand Ave #C9, Los Angeles, CA 90007; holboxla.com
7. La Casita Mexicana
Chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu opened La Casita Mexicana more than 20 years ago, one of the first spots to serve up authentic Mexican food to the community. To this day, it’s still one of the best and continues to be a mainstay in the neighborhood. It’s hard to go wrong here, but one of their signature items is the chile en nogada, a poblano chile stuffed with meat, dried fruit, walnuts and topped with a pecan cream sauce and pomegranates.
4030 E Gage St, Bell, CA 90201; casitamex.com
A mainstay in Koreatown, Guelaguetza was first opened in 1994 and has been a classic and essential Los Angeles restaurant ever since. The Oaxacan food—from the mole to the tlayud— is as good as ever, but with the children of the original founders now taking over operations, Guelageutza has been updated with a buzzing dining (and beautiful patio), cocktails and a nice tequila and mezcal selection.
3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006; ilovemole.com
The beautiful Mirame in Beverly Hills boasts a Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen: Chef Joshua Gil previously worked at the old Joe’s Restaurant in Venice and helped it earn a Michelin star. Now, he’s cooking up modern Mexican food inspired by Baja California and local ingredients—salmon skin chicharron, a burrata served with pipian rojo and a vegan aguachile with strawberries and jicamas are just some of the menu items here, served along a list of exclusively Mexican wines, spirits and coffee.
419 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 9020; mirame.la
10. Burritos La Palma
Unlike the large burritos found throughout San Francisco to San Diego, the burritos at Burritos La Palma are small—the homemade flour tortillas are filled only with tender beef birria (though their bean and cheese burritos are also equally famous after appearing in Netflix’s Taco Chronicles). Thanks to the power of these mini burritos, Burritos La Palma now has expanded to two locations in LA and two in OC.
Multiple locations; burritoslapalma.com
11. Bar Ama
With Mexican cuisine assimilated so much into the culture of Western U.S., we have to include at least one Tex-Mex spot on this list. Chef Josef Centeno grew up in San Antonio, Texas and his Tex-Mex restaurant, Bar Ama, is one of the most highly acclaimed nationwide. Puffy tacos and queso are the name of the game here.
118 W 4h St, Los Angeles, CA 90013; bar-ama.com
12. Mexicali Taco & Co
As the name suggests, Mexicali Taco & Co serves food from Chef Esdras Ochoa’s hometown of Mexicali in north Baja. The large vampiro tacos and the namesake Mexicali tacos gained them enough fans to go from a streetside taco stand to two brick and mortar locations. Even though both locations are great for his classic items like the vampiro tacos, if you find yourself at the San Gabriel location, we recommend trying that location’s exclusive Cantonese-style al pastor.
Multiple locations; mexicalitaco.com
13. Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen
Chef Rocio Camacho, known as LA’s Goddess of Mole, has been spreading the love of mole in this city for a long time. Her current restaurant is Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen in Bell Gardens, where she serves a dozen different types of the deep-colored, richly textured sauce. The traditional mole from the black mole Oaxaqueno to mole poblano can be found here, but Rocio also continuously innovates the traditional sauce with ingredients like pistachio, rose and coffee bean.
7891 Garfield Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201; rociosmexicankitchen.mymobisite.us
14. Gish Bac
Los Angeles is enjoying a boom of Oaxacan cuisine, but the family-owned Gish Bac has been serving barbacoa and other specialties since 2010, and Maria Ramos’ family has been making barbacoa for generations. The famous goat barbacoa enchilada is available to order any day, along with tlayudas and mole, and on the weekends, they also serve up a lamb barbacoa blanco.
4163 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018
Though we love our fresh corn tortillas, it’s all about the flour tortillas at this Northern Mexico-style spot. Get the large, handmade flour tortillas as tacos, chimichangas, caramelos or other forms—all filled with a choice of meat grilled over mesquite charcoal. Sonoratown was even featured in the carne asada episode of Netflix’s Taco Chronicles, so it’s a safe bet to give the carne asada tacos a try.
208 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014; sonoratown.com
16. Tamales Elena Y Antojitos
Tamales Elena y Antojitos in Bell Gardens may be a new restaurant, but owner Maria Elena Lorenzo has been selling her tamales around South LA for more than 20 years—first from a shopping cart, then a food truck. The restaurant is now the first Afro-Mexican restaurant in LA, serving tacos, tamales and regional specialties from Guerrero. Both banana leaf wrapped and corn husk wrapped tamales are available for dine-in as well as to take home by the dozens (which you’ll definitely want to do).
8101 Garfield Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201; http://ordertamaleselenayantojitos.com
17. Bee Taqueria
Chef Alejandro Carrasco came from Mexico City, but he brings in his experience working at some of LA’s top kitchens such as Osteria Mozza and Scratch Bar to open Bee Taqueria in West Adams. The result is a unique taco menu that shines best through his taco omakase, from tortilla made with bougainvilleas (which he started making after getting tired of sweeping the flowers off the floors) to other experimental dishes that he’s continually working on.
5754 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
18. Teddy’s Red Tacos
The slow-cooked beef birria is the latest taco trend in Los Angeles, and there are quite a few great birria trucks around town, but Teddy’s Red Tacos brought them mainstream with multiple brick and mortar locations around the city, including one on Venice Beach. Birria tacos or quesobirria tacos with a side of consomme to dip them in are the go-to order here.
Multiple locations; teddysredtacosofficial.com
While most are familiar with tacos filled with grilled meats, the namesake tacos at Guisados are filled with a choice from a variety of stewed meats or vegetables. Guisados now has seven locations serving their corn tortillas and a selection of more than a dozen stews and a couple of grilled options, from chicken tinga to cochinita pibil. Fast, consistent, and affordable, Guisados is always a solid choice.
Multiple locations; guisados.la
Power duo chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken opened the original Border Grill in 1985, so the two have been cooking Mexican food in LA for more than 35 years and were some of the first to showcase different regional Mexican recipes coupled with local California ingredients. They dub their latest restaurant a California canteen and it is a fun and approachable spot to enjoy vampiro tacos, lamb birria, or steak arrachera on the westside.
1920 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404; socalo.com
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