If serious traditional Mexican food & flavor is what you crave this Cinco de Mayo, you can't go wrong with Carne Deshebrada Tacos at Loteria Grill in LA or Pork Carnitas Street Tacos at SOL Cocina in OC.
The Grubdown: Loteria Grill
- savory, every bite is packed with flavor Carne Deshebrada Tacos with Fresh Guacamole, Salsa Chipotle, and Finely Chopped White Onion & Cilantro
- spicy and sweet Tinga de Pollo Tostada with Chipotle Peppers, Salsa Roja de Chipotle, Homemade Chorizo, Black Beans, Shredded Lettuce, Mexican Crema, and Cotija Cheese
- light 'n fresh Mahi Mahi al Chipotle Ceviche with spicy Chipotle Sauce
- chewy, crispy, cheesy Chicken Nachos with Black Beans, Diced Tomatoes, and Chopped Cilantro
Loteria Grill is my go-to Mexican spot. I first tried them 7 years ago at the Original Farmers Market in LA on 3rd & Fairfax – and I've been coming back ever since to enjoy their mix of Oaxacan, Yucatan & more cuisine at least once a month.
Whenever I go, I ALWAYS order these 3 things: 1.) Carne Deshebrada Tacos ($3.50ea) – the Shredded Meat is stewed for hours in Salsa Chipotle making it so tender & juicy, the Handmade Mini Corn Tortillas are soft & moist, and the Guacamole adds the perfect touch. Trust me, you'll be craving these again 2 hours later. 2.) Tinga de Pollo Tostada ($8) – the stewed Chipotle Peppers give the tender Chicken a spicy kick with a sweet kiss, while the Mexican Crema & Cotija Cheese give it some tang. 3.) Side of Frijoles Negros ($2) (not pictured) – I love the way Loteria serves their black beans, kind of Cuban style, in a soup cup with a thick broth that's hot & steamy.
Since the Farmers Market location doesn't serve Margaritas, for this occasion I decided to check out the simply modern Hollywood spot & enjoy 3 new items: 1.) Mahi Mahi al Chipotle Ceviche ($21) – it's very light and fresh with a sauce that's mildly spicy & sweet. 2.) Chicken Nachos ($7/12) – the chips are both crispy and chewy from the melted cheese, while the flavors are simple. 3.) House Margarita ($9) – strong, just how I like it!
Loteria Grill CINCO DE MAYO SPECIALS include specials like Mexican Sea Scallop Crudo ($9), a Make-Your-Own Pork Taco with all-the-fixins Plate ($12), and a refreshing Cucumber Margarita ($11). There will also be Live Music at their 3rd location in Studio City at 5:30pm, and at 7:30pm in Hollywood.
The Grubdown: SOL Cocina
- smokey Meyer Prime Beef Grilled Carne Asada Street Tacos with Garlic & Coarse Salt
- tender 'n tangy Slow-Roasted & Shredded Premium Pork Shoulder Carnitas Street Tacos with Salsa Verde & a Crispy Rice Cracker
- sweet 'n spicy Cocktel de Mariscos with Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari, Octopus, and Pico de Gallo in a Chile Cucumber, Spicy Tomato-Lime Sauce
- creamy, spicy Naked Guacamole with Serrano Chile, Cilantro, Lime, Onion & Tomato
I was so excited when I heard a modern, fresh Baja Mexican restaurant opened up in Newport Beach, OC last summer – and after eating there last Friday for Happy Hour (daily 3-6pm) now I know why.
SOL Cocina has great food and great atmosphere without all the drama you might find at Javier's Cantina. The vibe is cozy with a fireplace in the bar, and relaxing with its on the water location overlooking Balboa Marina.
I just made in time for the last 10 minutes of Happy Hour, and our server/bartender was more than accommodating – not to mention made incredible, beautiful, super stiff, fresh lime House Margaritas ($5).
The Pork Carnitas Street Tacos (2 for $4) look like a work of art – and they taste like one too. Slow-roasted, falls right apart, juicy pork with a tangy Salsa Verde Sauce, Avocado, and topped with, at first glance what looked like honeycomb, but was actually a crispy Salted Rice Cracker – scrumptious!
The Carne Asada Street Tacos (2 for $4) have a great Mesquite, smoky flavor, and the meat is perfectly tender, not chewy. (I wanted to order about 5 more.)
The Chile Cucumber Spicy Tomato-Lime Sauce in the Cocktel de Mariscos ($6) is sweet, tangy & refreshing, but I wish there was more seafood in the cup to lap it up.
The Naked Guacamole ($5) is chunky and spicy, not just from the Serrano Chile Peppers, but from the Housemade Red Pepper Corn Tortilla Chips that come with it (a lot to handle if you're hungry!)
SOL also serves an amazing warm – and complimentary – Black Bean Dip with Roasted Pepitas, as well as Baja seasonings like Fresh Lime Wedges, Red Pepper Dip, and Sea Salt to add to your dish.
For CINCO DE MAYO, SOL Cocina will have food, cocktail, and beer specials all night, a Baja Music Man for Live Entertainment, and a Raffle Prize Giveaway. Also, all proceeds from the night will go towards orphanages in Mexico via the Corazon de Vida Foundation.
Happy Drinko de Mayo, Cinco de Drinko, and Cinco de Mayo!