Nestled in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it suburban storefront, San Gabriel’s Babita Mexicuisine finds the gracious middle ground with such daintily presented dishes as green cilantro margarita sorbet and tequila-soaked salmon sopes.
Neighborhood: San Gabriel
Central Mexico has a weekend tradition of slow-roasting goat to make birria, a soulful stew with a wallop of dried chiles that will cure whatever ails you. This East L.A. dive is the city’s premier purveyor of the cumin-laced dish
Neighborhood: Boyle Heights
The rich concoctions are poured over satiny eggs that have been fried in a generous amount of hot oil—just like Abuelita used to make
The cuisine of the Yucatán is expressed simply at this old-line bakery and storefront near USC. Grab a plastic seat on the patio and dig into cochinita pibil (pork slow roasted in banana leaves) or papadzules (hard-boiled egg tacos). Every weekend is a tamale fest—get ’em while they’re hot.
L.A. has the third-largest number of Oaxacan restaurants in the world—holy mole! At this Mid City find from David Padilla and Maria Ramos, the mole negro boasts a blend of more than 30 ingredients.
Young celebrities are fond of this San Francisco import, a vegan cantina that offers sweet potato flautas and mushroom mole enchiladas.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
In partnership with Armando De La Torre, Ricardo Diaz is building a Mexican American restaurant empire in East L.A. At Guisados his one-of-a-kind tacos are made with braised meats and homestyle stews
Neighborhood: Lincoln Heights
Inside Plaza Mexico, the elaborate Spanish colonial mall in central Lynwood, topless Indians peer from the murals of La Huasteca. Rocio Camacho cooks in a multitude of styles, including dishes that pay lip service to indigenous Mexico…
Hard by USC’s frat houses, the Figueroa Street hangout attracts a mishmash of pistol-packing cops, ID-wielding office workers, and everything-but-the-bong students for lunch.
Neighborhood: University Park
Oaxacan cuisine is the new black in what we could start calling “Oaxacalifornia,” and that’s largely due to the Mexican state’s unparalleled mole negro.
Jimmy Shaw honors authenticity while updating Mexican food for a city in which the radio pulses with ranchera music and Ralphs carries Virgen de Guadalupe candles.
Don’t bother asking Felipe Cejudo what’s in the squirt bottles at his undersea-themed truck. His proprietary creams, secret sauces, and coleslaw enhance sweet and tangy shrimp cocktails and Mexico City-style seafood dishes, including a cool octopus tostada.
Neighborhood: Highland Park
Sprawled along the Pacific, the Mexican state of Nayarit is known for its pristine seafood. Lots of restaurants in L.A. produce a decent version, but none with the rigor and gusto of Mariscos Chente.