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LA Santa Monica Good Mexican Restaurant?

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My nephew and his wife are coming to town from NY (after having lived in Barcelona for 13 years) for the opening of his film in LA and they've asked me (Auntie Foodie) to take them to lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant beforehand somewhere near the theater in Santa Monica. Does anyone have any ideas?

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BSK (aka Auntie Foodie),

Santa Monica is not really known for "la comida mexicana autentica" IMO.

Mind you, here are a couple of places (in Santa Monica) that might work:

Border Grill

La Serenata de Garibaldi

I've only eaten at Border Grill once, several years ago. I usually go to Ciudad in downtown LA. Ciudad is more Pan-Latin American cooking ("la comida latina nueva"). Hopefully, others who live over on the Westside can help.

And if you don't mind, BSK, what movie is your nephew showing? Next year's Oscar contender? Enjoy!

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There's also El Cholo on Wilshire which is more of what most "Gringo's" think of as a Mexican restaurant. Big loud bar in the evenings, big margaritas, lot's of various tortilla combos (burrito, enchiladas, tacos, etc.) served with beans & rice, etc. It's on Wilshire but I suspect RJ's suggestions are closer to where the movie will show given the abundance of screens on 2nd and 3rd Street in Santa Monica.

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Authentic Mexican restaurants are slim on the west side. But for really "authentic" you shouldn't be asking for "Mexican" you should be asking for the region, so, for example, on the west side most Mexicans hail from Oaxaca, and you should be asking for a good Oaxacan restaurant. Then the next problem kicks in: gringo-dominated clientele will make the restaurateurs tone down their food to bland Mex-American. This is why you never go to El Cholo or El Coyote for Mexican food. Nor do you ever go to a place with a sleeping Mexican wearing a large sombrero as part of the sign. That all being said there is one place to be recommended in Santa Monica and that's a Oaxacan restaurant on Pico between 3rd and 4th Sts. called El Texate. It's a funky, cozy place. The food is very good, but here is where it gets tricky. The menu is filled with gringo-food hidden behind Mexican names. But you could call a day or two ahead and tell them that you want real Oaxacan food and they will prepare off-menu dishes you can have no where else, such as memela, with black bean puree, haciento, tasajo, and finished with fresh Mexican cheese; Molote, filled with fresh potato and chorizo mix finished with fresh cheese; Empanada frita; Chalupa, a wide fresh tortilla with raised edges topped with cecina and potato mix with guallio and condiments; Salata Nolpal, fresh cactus salad with jicama, pico de gallo, fresh avocado, cilantro, tomato and chalupines (crickets); Henyerbada, made with fresh organic herbs: yerba santa, epazote, pirejil, vaso, tripe, kidneys, and pitiona; Pipian, chicken made with a sauce of pumpkin seed and fresh cactus; Frijol Blanco, white bean and fresh shrimp stew and of course the famous mole negro for which Oaxaca is famous. There's also good Veracruzean restaurant on Washington Blvd in Culver City called Mi Ranchito (same principles apply).

Edited by archestratus (log)

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Drive about 5 minutes south to Venice and find Lula's. Very authentic with different regions of Mexico represented. Everything is good, but I always order the tamale sampler and margaritas.

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