The Best Mexican Restaurants In Los Angeles

Our 20 favorite Mexican restaurants in the city known for great Mexican food.
The Best Mexican Restaurants In Los Angeles image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Some topics are simply not up for debate: gravity exists, the world is indeed round, and, yes, LA has incredible Mexican food. And it's not just the quality of the food, but the sheer diversity of Mexican cuisines in our city. So whether you're a local or a starry-eyed tourist, a visit to LA means eating some of the best Mexican food anywhere outside of Mexico.  

For this guide, we've steered away from taquerías and Mexican-American classics (both of which are too important not to have their own guides.) This list is focused exclusively on sit-down Mexican spots, from fancy Downtown rooftops to life-changing mariscos stalls to multi-generation birria spots. Here are the 20 best Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles.


photo credit: Jessie Clapp



$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightLunch
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Atla is a big-deal Mexican restaurant just by the nature of its name. The transplant from NYC—operated by the team behind Damian, Cosme, and Pujol—makes a lot of sense on Abbot Kinney. It’s laid-back, breezy, and full of attractive people wearing linen pants. It’s also the undisputable best Mexican restaurant on the Westside, with a menu of homie, simple classics, like quesadillas with epazote and an open-face al pastor gringa with sweet pineapple butter that drips down your forearm. Simple doesn’t mean cheap, though. If you’re prepared to spend an all-day restaurant that’s the most relaxed member of a fine-dining restaurant group, Atla is perfect for a leisurely lunch or dinner and a few drinks.

photo credit: Jakob Layman



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Located inside Mercado La Paloma, this family-run seafood counter serves fresh, inventive dishes that'll have you questioning all the other seafood you've ever eaten, like ever. The menu changes often, but you’ll usually find things like smoked kanpachi tostadas with arbol-peanut soy sauce, tender grilled octopus on almond pipían, scallops tacos, and raw oysters by the dozen. Lunch service is casual and a la carte, but we also highly recommend booking a seat for the $115 tasting menu they offer at dinner.

Run by the chef behind Cosme in NYC and Mexico City's Pujol, Damian is an upscale spot in the Arts District that more than backs up its high price point. Classic dishes get a chic makeover to look a lot fancier than they need to be, but the flavors shine through: there's lobster al pastor with tart pineapple butter, a charred-until-crispy pescado a la brasa, and tostadas topped with caesar salad and uni.  Still, the back patio might be the most impressive part of your meal. Moody concrete walls and jungle-like plant arrangements frame the industrial space, making you feel like you're in a less stressful, non-dystopian version of Maze Runner.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp



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As varied as LA's Mexican food scene is—with everything from side-of-the-road taquerias, Oaxacan mole palaces, mariscos trucks, and classic cantinas—there are only a few upscale restaurants. Loreto in Frogtown is the newest of the bunch, and it’s a particularly good choice for anyone looking to have a baller seafood meal. Get the butterflied whole fish that comes with rice, beans, escabeche, salsas, blue corn tortillas, and tiny quesadillas. The whole package—which costs somewhere between $60 and $80 depending on the day—will easily feed three adults. For a more casual entry point, stop by Loreto's incredible, daytime-only mariscos window Za Za Za.

106 Seafood serves mariscos that will reboot your tastebuds in a residential South LA backyard. Sure, the restaurant’s bathroom is technically located inside a person's home, but these dishes—like a shrimp ceviche punched up with tart green apple—have stuck with us longer than 90% of what we've eaten in restaurants with dedicated lavatories. (Not so surprising, considering the person in charge used to cook at Coni’Seafood.) Come sit on plastic chairs under a canopy and snack on piles of crispy fish chicharrón and langoustines sizzling in a sour-spicy-salty-creamy-who-knows-what-the-hell-it-is sauce. Just bring cash and prepare to flip out.

Run by celebrity chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu for the past 25 years, La Casita Mexicana in Bell is both a beloved neighborhood staple and a true LA dining destination. The menu here spans Mexico: there's rich, chocolate-y mole, Azteca cheese fondue, and steak served over grilled cactus. But the mandatory order here is their chile en nogada. This giant green chile is stuffed with beef, spices, dried fruits, and nuts, then topped with pecan cream sauce. It’s sweet, savory, and every flavor in between—a dish we would happily eat as an appetizer, entree, or dessert.

This classic family-run seafood spot in Inglewood, which has a smaller second location in Del Rey, serves some of our favorite mariscos in all of LA. You can’t go wrong with any of the citrusy ceviches or aguachiles, but make sure the savory marlin tacos and whole grilled snook in a rich, salty house sauce hit the table as well. Both locations have expansive back patios and weekend live music—perfect for a casual big group meal outside.

Owned by the same family as Holbox, this humble food stall inside Mercado La Paloma serves traditional Yucatan cuisine that's as craveable as anything you'll find in LA. You’re going to want to start with the sikil-pac, a tomato and pumpkin seed dip, plus an order of the football-shaped fried kibi, then end with their signature cochinita pibil, slow-roasted pork that’s been marinated in achiote and sour orange and wrapped in a banana leaf (a.k.a. our version of heaven).

Stepping into Sabores Oaxaqueños feels like you've been teleported to a picturesque Mexican market plopped down in the heart of Koreatown. You can shop for Oaxacan chocolates or a shiny new tortilla press, but the main draw at this bright orange restaurant is the delicious food from Oaxaca's Costa Chica region. Think sizzling molcajetes full of grilled fish and shrimp, tortilla chips covered in sweet mole coloradito, and a massive tlayuda mixta that makes the table groan. It's perfectly sized for sharing, but we won't blame you if you don't.

You won’t need to see a menu at this down-home spot in Boyle Heights. The specialty here is birria: earthy, tender Zacatecas-style goat birria prepared with a third-generation family recipe that's more prized than the Colonel’s eleven herbs and spices. Unlike some specialists that are only open on weekends, Nochistlan serves daily. They do great birria tacos, but what you want is their birria plate served in a pool of rich, fragrant consommé. On the side are thick housemade corn tortillas, chile de arbol salsa, onions, cilantro, and limes for assembling your own personal goat symphony. Slurp, chew, and repeat. Cash only.

It's easy to feel pampered during a meal at Ceviche Project. This stylish mariscos spot in Silver Lake is intimate, with only a few tables and a white marble bar where you watch owner-chef Octavio top oysters with housemade chile oil in a white suit. Everything you eat here has a surprising twist to it, like a "Mayan-style" octopus tostada with a punch of burnt habanero salsa, or kanpachi sashimi with ponzu and sweet bursts of diced melon. Make sure to order the bar's excellent michelada and imagine yourself at a fancy hotel raw bar, because that's exactly what a meal here feels like.

Rocio’s isn’t big, and you’re likely going to drive past it the first time you go, but once you reach its Bell Gardens location, you’ll be treated to some of the best mole in Southern California. Chef and owner Rocio Camacho is nicknamed “Goddess of Mole,” and whether you order her rich, chocolatey oaxaqueño mole or creamy, botanical-forward rosa santa prisca, it’s not difficult to understand why. You get to choose a protein for each mole and we recommend either the chile relleno or the mild, sweet mahi mahi.

Poncho's is the type of backyard cookout where you plan to visit for a quick bite, but end up spending the whole night (because the hosts know how to throw a party). Popping up on Friday evenings behind a community center house just south of Downtown, this outdoor Oaxacan restaurant sets up a few tables, a speaker for banda music, and a charcoal grill to toast up the only dish on the menu: tlayudas. These massive, crispy folded tortillas are arguably the best in town, flavored with pork fat, black bean paste, and melted quesillo that comes through in every bite. They also come with a choice of protein: you'll want the strips of tasajo (cured steak) and sliced moronga (Oaxacan blood sausage).

This South Bay Oaxacan restaurant casually owns the world's largest private mezcal collection (yes, really), but that's only one reason why we love it here. Madre is a one-stop shop for consistently good Oaxacan classics, including tlayudas glued together with quesillo, mole-drenched tamales, and must-order tacos with handmade tortillas. The cecina and tripa are stand-outs, but the cauliflower with quesillo and avocado is one of the finest vegetarian tacos in the city. If you aren't near the original Torrance location, Madre also has branches in Palms and West Hollywood.

This gorgeous rooftop restaurant in the Arts District has a massive patio with lush vegetation and views of the Downtown skyline that look straight off a postcard. The whole place feels like a garden party for the rich and famous, which makes it all the more impressive that the Mexico City-inspired food here is just as good as the setting. The tuna tostada and steak pa’taquear are both standouts, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything on the menu—including cocktails—that won’t appease the varying tastes of whoever you’re with that night.

For being a tiny spot that shares a wall with a convenience store and recycling center, Birrieria Apatzingan whips up an impressive roster of dishes. The Pacoima restaurant has a huge menu that includes crackly tacos dorados, huge bowls of crimson red menudo, and a Michaocan specialty called morisqueta: fatty, cartlidge-y pork ribs coated in a spicy tomato sauce and cotija cheese over beans and rice. And whatever you do, save room for the exceptional goat birria en caldo that’s one of our favorites in town. Cash only.

A meal at Guelaguetza, a Koreatown institution for Oaxacan cooking, usually involves multiple types of mole, tlayudas, big plates of meat, and a healthy amount of mezcal (all of it shared, ideally). With its massive space and live music, this is a great spot for a big group dinner or for entertaining out-of-towners with a full-on feast. There are several family-style sampler platters on the menu which are a good bet, but if had to spotlight one dish, get the queso fundido—it’ll ruin every other queso you’ve ever had.

When you see a table of ten burly construction workers at a restaurant all ordering the same thing for lunch, you can probably guess the house specialty. At Carnes Asada Pancho Lopez, an always-busy Jalisco-style restaurant in Lincoln Heights, it's carne en su sugo. This smoky and savory tomatillo stew is loaded with tender beans, bacon, and chopped carne asada, and might be the best thing ever to eat on a rainy day. From the clay mugs for agua frescas to the beer bottles filled with salsa, Pancho Lopez goes all in on the Guadalajara ambiance. You already know the must-order here, but we also love their juicy torta ahogada, barbacoa tacos, and roasted bone marrow plate.

Right off the main drag in East Compton, Antojitos Los Cuates is known for tostadas, flautas, and pozole blanco, made with a savory clear broth instead of the usual red. This Jalisco-style restaurant is about the size of an average dining room, so if you eat inside you’ll feel like a guest of the family that runs the place. Which makes sense, because this is homestyle cooking at its absolute finest: Our favorite item is the incredible tostada mixta, which involves a special puffy tostada heaped with marinated pork cold cuts, cabbage, salsa, and queso cotija, though the tacos dorados with picadillo and mole enchiladas are commendable runners-up.

Sometimes less is more, but not when it comes to the chilaquiles at El Huarachito. This old-school spot in Lincoln Heights serves what might be the best Mexican breakfast in LA, otherwise known as El Campesino (a.k.a spicy chilaquiles loaded with carne asada, a fried egg, and whatever else you could possibly want). Everything here from the frijoles to the café olla exudes comfort. If lunch is more your scene, prioritize their cheese-oozing chile relleno, taquitos de papa, and whatever the guisado of the day happens to be.

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