A not particularly FTC-ish restaurant search

Friend who used to live in LA and has been back in town for a bit has made a request for a “fun” Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant this Saturday evening. As in lively, possibly hip atmosphere matters at least as much as the food. We would strongly prefer to stay in the Venice / Santa Monica / MDR / Culver City area but I’m drawing a blank. Oh and since we’re talking about Saturday evening I’d really like to be able to make a reservation or not wait an interminable amount of time for a table.

Before anyone suggests that I need to find new friends - she does appreciate great food and on this trip has already been to business or personal dinners at Cassia, Gjelina, Rustic Canyon, Felix… But this is a particular “I still miss living in LA” request that I’d like to fulfill. Help please.

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It sounds like you want Guerilla Tacos but don’t want to make the drive.

Hi and welcome to El Cholo

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Salazar would be pretty perfect… except for the Westside thing.

Loqui? It’s casual but the space around it might fit the bill in terms of hipness/liveliness/could stroll and have dessert or a drink afterwards.

Mercado, Tallula’s, and El Cholo fit the bill in SaMo. Gilberts el Indio will probably have too much of a wait and the food is worse than the other 3 anyway.

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El Cholo is probably the right answer but Tallulah’s is where is go. Great location, nice cocktails, fun atmosphere and food with hits and misses but generally better than El Cholo

Drive to Guelaguetza.


El Cholo in SM? Been there more times than I can count, just for convenience.

But, I’d rather go to Baja Cantina in Venice. Big patio, too.

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My vote goes to Casablanca on Lincoln in Venice. Love the handmade flour tortillas and calamari steak entrees. They have a margarita cart that goes around the tables for custom drink creations. Lively atmosphere, but I wouldn’t call it hip.

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That’s a good call, too. Green salsa with cheese nuggets floating in there :slight_smile:

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Casablanca edges out El Cholo, in my book. Chef Carlos is da jefe…

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For a more hip atmosphere: tallulas or mercado. A lot of younger people and good drinks food isn’t bad at either place.

If you want more old school tex mex/ american mexican: El cholo/casablanca but its like the equivalent of the lawrys crowd lots of families and older folks with some younger people sprinkled in.

If you are willing to journey a little further east to beverly hills/weho gracias madre has an amazing patio, great drinks, super hip atmosphere, ok vegan mexican food and is quintessentially LA.

Thanks everyone for all the ideas so far. Trying to avoid El Cholo. Guerrilla Tacos or Salazar would indeed be great but for the geography thing. Mercado is a possibility, or Tallulah which I haven’t been to yet. Or we can take the path of least resistance and walk to Baja Cantina.

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My vote would be for Mercado as well. Excellent food. Good vibe. Close to Carmela…

What about coni’seafood in Palms? Grilled snook?

I had a pretty good taco from Sol Cocina in Playa Vista at Taqueando. It might be worth a look.


Casa Sanchez (Mar Vista)
Kay n Daves (Culver City, Palisades)
Home State (Playa)
Mexicano (Baldwin Hills)

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Didn’t know they opened on this side of town. Cool!!

Thank you!

I second Casa Sanchez. They have mariachi and dancers, it’s really fun, and the food is good quality Mexican-American.

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+1 for Mercado. I went to the Studio City/Cahuena location for brunch on Sunday and was pleasantly surprised by the food. Nice space too.