Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here are our picks for the top 5 Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles.
1 Gracias Madre
Give thanks for Gracias Madre, an exquisite space with a fabulous menu that focus entirely on Mexican fare with a twist: it's vegan. This West Hollywood eatery is stunning thanks to its high, vaulted ceilings with wood trusses, brick walls, and a L-shaped bar that seats 100. Outside on the patio at night is just pure magic. Strands of twinkly lights lend the space, which is enclosed and completely set away from the outside traffic on Melrose, the atmosphere of an enchanted secret garden. Its interior at nighttime has the same sort of feel thanks to the landscape of 80-year-old olive trees growing inside. You can't go wrong with the menu: every dish is a delight. Some of our favorites include the plantains, flash-fried with black beans, mango salsa, spinach, avocado and cashew crema, as well as the grilled tofu with chermoula, eggplant, red peppers, parsley and coconut rice that was almost a dessert onto itself. You must also save room for dessert, as sweet treats are incredible here. The gluten-free fudge brownie with salted Mezcal caramel, coconut bacon and orange cashew whipped cream is a revelation, and nothing says fall better than the spiced pumpkin cake with maple cream sauce and homemade vegan vanilla bean coconut ice cream.
Rick Bayless' take on Mexican-meets-California cuisine is "o"-mazing! From the “Bright Bites” selection of Ceviches and Tostaditas, to "Savory Snacks” such as Sopes, Queso Fundidos, Taquitos, and Tamales to the “Enchiladas & Tacos al Carbon” to the classic cornerstone offerings that are the cornerstones of Mexican cuisine, you can't go wrong at Red O, which utilizes locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Gourmands (and food purists) will appreciate the Bravo Top Chef Masters winner's “Mexico’s Celebrated Seven" menu section, of which includes his take on iconic dishes such as Pollo en Mole Poblano and Cochinita Pibil. Make sure to check out the Melrose eatery's sister location in Newport Beach.
Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken are two of the most famous foodie names in LA thanks to their ambitious take on exotic street food, which they bring to both the downtown LA and Santa Monica outposts of Border Grill. The stars of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales,” create a new standard for modern gourmet Mexican with flavorful fare based on the home cooking of Oaxaca and the Yucatan. Make sure to try the Plantain Empanadas - roasted plantains, organic black beans, poblano and aged cotija - as well as the delightful Quinoa Fritters with crunchy aztec grain, aged cotija cheese and aji amarillo aioli at the Santa Monica eatery, which, thanks to two levels of dining, a spacious cantina bar and proximity to the beach is a great place to dine any time of day.
Toca Madera, which translates to “knock on wood,” is a newly-opened, intimate 120-seat space that features a creative take on traditional Mexican cuisine designed by Executive Chef Raymond Alvarez. This new West Hollywood hotspot refers to its cuisine as “Barrio Style Fine Dining"—it is influenced by traditional Latin flavors, Alvarez's classical training and his favorite childhood dishes. Providing an array of options for every eater, Toca Madera’s menu incorporates a shared-plate format offering locally farm-sourced ingredients with an emphasis on organic as well as vegan and gluten-free options. Dishes you'll want to try include the Wagyu Hot Stone; Sashimi Agua Chiles and Barrio Crudités. You'll also find farm-fresh ingredients in the fabulous cocktails offered here at Toca Madera's 100 ft. crystal-quartz island bar. Try a tequila flight or order up the Ghost Rider: a mixture of Cazadores reposado tequila, mint, lime and agave.
In Portuguese, “Dia de Campo” is a phrase that means “field day”—and trust us, you’ll definitely be having one at this Mexican tapas restaurant in Hermosa Beach. From the decor to the crowd to the food and drink, this place is a party.
The eatery's sexy surf lodge concept with mood lighting and open floor-to-ceiling windows is the perfect backdrop for Dia De Campo's little bites of Mexican/seafood-inspired fare.Start with the guacamole before moving on to small yet delicious bites like the chocolate duck quesadillas with Oxacan cheese, salsa negra and tamarind; chorizo stuffed dates with sofrito and cilantro salad; and delightful scallops with mole, apple poblano salad, corn pudding and platanos. You'll also find a plethora of cocktails here that will make you wish as if you were sitting on the white sandy beaches of the Mexican Riviera. Among the best: The Claremont—a crisp and refreshing blend of cucumber infused vodka, chartreuse, lime and cilantro and the De Sandia, a summery punch of vodka, watermelon and citrus.