As summer winds down, take advantage of L.A.'s sunny days to take a trip to Lynwood, Calif., just twenty minutes from central L.A. Spend a day or night at the Plaza Mexico—it’s colonial façade makes it a dead ringer for Guadalajara’s Tlaquepaque neighborhood, known for its beauty, charm, mariachis, and furniture shopping.
Stroll along the shops, traditional Mexican markets in the interior, and grab a typical Michoacan-style paleta (Mexican fruit based ice cream) to beat the heat.
But save your appetite for a regional Mexican food crawl among the replicas of historic statues from Mexico City, Jalisco, and pre-Hispanic kingdoms. Here’s a sampling of the delights that await you.
El Tio Restaurant: This Sinaloa-style fonda has a nice bistec ranchero, or ranch-style steak (pictured) with fried potatoes and frijoles puercos topped by a couple slices of queso fresco, chilorio (spicy shredded pork), or asado sinaloense. It's like a carne asada salad, but more fun.
La Huasteca: You’ll pay much more, for essentially the same menu, at the celebrity-driven, non-Latino chef restaurants in on the West Side. Rocio Camacho, of Mole de Los Dioses worked at this fancy regional Mexican restaurant, and her touch is still felt with dished like quail in mole negro oaxaqueno, caldo de piedra (a soup heated with hot rocks), and when in season, chiles en nogada, the Mercedes of chiles rellenos.
Real de Oaxaca: This spacious, colorful restaurant is operated by relatives of the Lopez family (owners of Guelaguetza), and has the same menu and recipes—although with a slightly different hand—as the Guelaguetza on Olympic. Relax and enjoy mole, tlayudas (large crispy tortillas topped with traditional ingredients), or a pair of chiles rellenos filled with a savory-sweet picadillo (minced pork with nuts, raisins, and sweet spices).
There’s also food from Puebla at Plaza Mexico, a Jaliscan birria place, and even a Hidalgo-style barbacoa house, and—also very Mexican—teriyaki chicken and Chuck E. Cheese! Come with the family, bring a date to impress, or grab your food loving friends for a gastronomic tour at L.A. Mexican food consulate, the Plaza Mexico in Lynwood.
El Tio Restaurant, Plaza México, 11215 Long Beach Blvd, Lynwood, 310-884-9234
La Huasteca, 3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, 310-537-8800
Real de Oaxaca, Plaza México, 11215 Long Beach Blvd, Ste 1010, Lynwood, 310-884-9234