Viva la Revolucion! Viva Mexico! Viva la Grita! While many gringos believe Cinco de Mayo to be la major Mexican holiday, in fact it’s 16 Septiembre, Mexican Indpendence Day. While we could debate the very best cocinas y cantinas in which to celebrate all over Los Angeles (which, lest we forget, was originally a Mexican city—and visit Olvera street if you doubt me), in order to keep things civil, I’ll just mention five of the newest, most interesting Mexican destinations in town:
Rivera (above) is actually a Latin fusion restaurant (Spanish, Central and South American), and some of the most creative modern interpretations to hit LA in quite a while, including tortillas pressed with edible flowers and seaweed, a cabeza de oro mixing foie gras, iberico ham and lobster, and wild mushroom carpaccio. But more importantly for your celebration, they feature and an extensive creative cocktail list: try the Blood Sugar Sex Magic, the Donaji or their infused sipping tequila flight. For postre, it’s the poblano chile sorbet.
Rivera is located at 1050 South Flower Street, 213.749.1460
Seafood chilapachole, tinga poblana and taco-filling cazuelas are among the satisfying options at this gorgeous restaurant overseen by star chef Rick Bayless. But it’s the Loteria-inspired cocktails and over 75 tequilas offered here that will get the party started. See if you can nab the swing at the bar, and don’t give it up! Read my full review.
Red O Restaurant is located at 8155 Melrose Avenue, 323.655.5009
La Sandia Mexican Kitchen and Bar
Chef Richard Sandoval finally arrives in LA with this gorgeous room atop the new Santa Monica Place. Try the braised beef, chorizo and raisin empanadas, tilapia tacos, or chicken zarape. Prickly pear, watermelon and orange-serrano margaritas are among the bar selections, if you don’t want to just sip one of the 100-plus tequilas they offer.
La Sandia is located at 395 Santa Monica Place (Fourth Street), 310.393.3300
La Casita Mexicana
Having such a generic name and an unlikely address doesn’t help La Casita Mexicana, but chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (who appear on Univison’s Premier Edicion regularly) are so well regarded, that they make finding them worth the trouble. Chips with house made mole sauces, stuffed peppers, adobo sea bass, chiles en nogada are among the must-haves of their elegantly reinvented classics.
La Casita Mexicana is located at 1030 East Gage Avenue, Bell, 323.773.1898
Specializing in a gourmet take on Oaxacan cooking, Tlapazola offers signature dishes like salmon vegetable taquitos, nopalitos salad and barbacoa de Borrego (lamb). They have one of the largest menus of Tequilas and Oaxacan mescal I’ve ever seen alongside classic and enticing original cocktails.
Tlapazola is located at 11676 Gateway Boulevard, 310.477.1577