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Café Vida

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WHY A chance to eat healthy food with the Palisades set, plus no corkage fee. WHAT This is the place that triggered a local epiphany: ‘Healthy’ food can actually taste good! Winning dishes include a delicious egg-white frittata with sausage and roasted vegetables. Get there before 11:30 for brunch or lunch and before 6 p.m. […]

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Cemitas Poblanas Elvirita #1

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WHY The cemitas carnitas and the cemitas with chicken in black mole are two of the best sandwiches in L.A.; the quesadillas filled with such things as squash flowers and mushrooms are also excellent. WHAT This hybrid restaurant-sandwich shop is a sit-down place, but we’re putting it in Food That’s Fast because it’s really a […]

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Homegirl Café

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WHY Fresh, modern Mexican fare with lots of vegetarian choices—and eating here supports a fantastic nonprofit. WHAT This nonprofit café and bakery teaches young women who would otherwise be drawn into gang life the restaurant business. It’s a bright space with art-for-sale and an open kitchen, which turns out tasty, healthful salads, tacos and breakfast […]

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Red O

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WHY To try Rick Bayless’s famed Mexican cooking without having to fly to Chicago. WHAT It’s hard to know why überchef Rick Bayless thought he should bring his upscale Mexican cooking to L.A., where Mexican food from every region is plentiful, but he did, and mobs of people have flocked to this great-looking place since […]

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Fuego

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WHY Upscale Mexican cuisine with a beautiful Long Beach view. WHAT A centerpiece of the redesigned and rebranded Hotel Maya, Fuego delivers a Mexican menu focused on coastal cooking. That translates to dishes like citric ceviches of shrimp and lobster scooped up with plantain chips, Yucat‡n-style pork two ways (presented as an achiote-glazed fillet and […]

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Guisados

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WHY It’s everything a modern taquería should be in Los Angeles—adaptive and inventive yet traditional and classic. WHAT Guisados was born from the minds behind Cook’s Tortas, and here they channel the creativity of Cook’s into homey stews and braises swaddled in sturdy, rough-hewn tortillas. The menu is forever changing, but keep an eye peeled […]

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CaCao Mexicatessen

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WHY Warmth, a strong sense of neighborhood and a serious approach to food—and, more importantly, to Mexican chocolate in all its forms. WHAT The name was a poor choice—everyone stumbles over it—but everything else about this richly colorful café/deli/market succeeds. You order at the counter to eat in the café or out on the patio, […]

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Yxta Cocina Mexicana

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WHY For 40 years, Jesse Gomez’s family has been turning out ‘careful-the-plate-is-hot’ Mexican food at El Arco Iris, an old-school hub of Highland Park life. Now Gomez has created a new-school, loft-like place serving regional Mexican dishes, as well as twenty-some tequilas and what may well be the best margarita Downtown. WHAT This is not […]

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Border Grill

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WHY Designer margaritas and superb appetizers from California-cuisine pioneers. WHAT Chef/owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are foodie rock stars whose first, shoebox-size restaurant City morphed into the original Border Grill. Today, TV’s ‘Two Hot Tamales’ have an empire that includes two other Border Grills (Downtown and Vegas) and Feniger’s Street. This is where […]

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Chichen Itza

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WHY Seductive dishes from the Yucat‡n: robust, citrus-spiked soups; panuchos with shredded turkey, tomato, pickled red onion and avocado; cochinita pibil; and wonderful tamales, including the colado, with chicken and achiote. WHAT Terrific Yucat‡n cooking is served at this order-at-the-counter café in the nonprofit Mercado la Paloma, also home to Mo-Chica. The flavors are rich, […]

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