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Santa Monica's Best Mexican Food

Mexican food can be found in plenty of places throughout Los Angeles. From taquerias on street corners to food trucks and even fancy modern Mexican restaurants spread around town, there are no doubt plenty of options. But, Santa Monica is one of the best places to dine on authentic, traditional or new-aged Mexican food items with its view of the Pacific Ocean and ocean breeze.
el-cholo - verified jarone
(credit: El Cholo)

El Cholo
1025 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 899-1106

Featuring authentic and traditional Mexican dishes, El Cholo restaurants around the city offer up dishes from family recipes dating back to 1923. The distinctive menu feature classics such as their famous green corn tamales, the #1 Combination Plate which comes with a cheese enchilada and beef taco and their fresh Tableside Guacamole, Carmen's original nachos, tostadas, burritos, tacos and many more options. While dining in their beautiful indoor open dining area, pair a classic dish with plenty of margarita options. In fact, El Cholo offers a separate menu just for their margaritas, like their classic one, or their fruit margarita and the 24 KT margarita with Jose Cuervo's Reserva de la Familia and Grand Marnier Cent Cinquantenaire. Dine and drink in the Spanish-influenced designed restaurant, accented with hand-painted arches, rustic ceiling timbers and traditional Mexican touches.

mercado - verified jarone
(credit: Mercado Santa Monica)

1416 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 526-7121

Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica on 4th Street, Mercado brings an inventive mix of options for their menu in a fun atmosphere. With traditional dishes from owner/chef Jose Acevedo and co-owner Jesse Gomez's Mexican roots, the menu reflects the heart and soul of Mexican dining with items like the Enchiladas De Pollo En Mole Oaxaqueño, Carnitas, Carne Asada and the Market Chile Relleno where Chef Jose hand-picks vegetables and combines them with Oaxaca cheese, yellow mole, roasted red chile campana sauce and mexican rice. Tortillas are made by hand daily, produce is from local farmer's markets and their bar offers over 60 premium silver, reposado, añejo and extra añejo tequilas, as well as mezcal, and 12 draft and bottled beers.

mondo-taco - verified jarone
(credit: Sam Spector)

Mondo Taco
2200 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 310-8922

Mondo Taco features a wide variety of tacos, wraps and bowls, offering over 30 unique pork, lamb, beef, chicken, fish, shrimp and vegetarian flavors. Some of the more popular options include The Angry Chicken tacos with crispy chicken, hot sauce and blue cheese, their Fancy Fish with grilled fish and pico de gallo, the Garlic Bomb with mushrooms and crispy onions, their El Greco with grilled lamb and Alexander the Great. Chips and home made guacamole are also a favorite here. Guests can enjoy these specials and other Mexican dishes along with craft beer and wine-based cocktails in their dining room and on their patio.

lula - verified jarone
(credit: Viktor Budnik)

Lula Cocina Mexicana
2720 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 392-5711

The go-to Mexican spot for locals who live near Main Street, Lula Cocina Mexicana, has been in Santa Monica for over 25 years and attracts diners for its delicious cuisine. Specializing in traditional Mexican food with a California twist, favorites include Crepa de Camarones, Gorditas, Pechuga de Pollo, and of course their handmade tacos. Vegans needn't worry though, as they have an extensive list of vegan offerings using full line of Gardein, Beyond Meat and Daiya cheese which can be used to make almost anything vegan. And, for those looking for a late-night meal, Lula is open until 2am Friday and Saturday.

red-o - verified jarone
(credit: Bob Hodson)

Red O Santa Monica
1541 Ocean Ave. #120
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-1600

Red O Santa Monica, located on the corner of Ocean Ave. and Colorado Ave. delivers superior Mexican cuisine and service in a stunning vacation inspired atmosphere in the heart of the areas beachfront. By sourcing local and sustainable ingredients, Red O offers a unique combination of prime steaks and seafood using authentic Mexican sauces to create dishes of unparalleled flavor and quality, highlighting the various regions of Mexico. Along with an extensive tequila list and award winning wine list, one of their most popular menu items is their Carnitas in Red Chile Guajillo with orange-guajillo chile sauce, black beans and a jicama-citrus petite salad. Classic guacamole, quesadillas, taquitos, a calamari ceviche, street tacos, and drinks like their margaritas and wine are popular options on their happy hour menu, and the restaurant is open for lunch, brunch (Saturday & Sunday's) and dinner with terrific Mexican cuisine like enchiladas, seafood dishes and steaks.

tacos por favor
(credit: Sarah P./yelp)

Tacos Por Favor
1406 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 392-5768

As a Westside institution with locations in Santa Monica, Venice, and West L.A., Tacos Por Favor is known for its hearty California-style Mexican cuisine. Staples include their soft tacos with carne asada or carnitas, as well as other great taco options. Breakfast is served all day, and their massive burritos are a must try, too. But, make sure to try their California burrito with carne asada, cheese, french fries, guacamole, and sour cream. The restaurant also offers many healthy, vegetarian and vegan options including their sautéed mushroom soft tacos and their fresh made aguas frescas.

casa-escobar - verified jarone
(credit: Mike Escobar)

Casa Escobar Wilshire
2500 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 828-1315

Casa Escobar Wilshire has been operating in Santa Monica since 1967 and has served traditional Mexican food to over three generations of local families and tourists alike. Their most beloved classic dishes are the famous Spinach Enchiladas and Crispy Chicken Tacos, however items like the Chile Verde, Fish Tacos, and Carne Asada Soft Tacos have become very popular as of late. To pair with their classic Mexican dishes, their house margarita is the way to go.

blue plate taco YELP
(credit: Lindsay H./Yelp)

Blue Plate Taco
1515 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-2985

Situated next to the Shore Hotel, Blue Plate Taco sits right on Ocean Avenue overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. With a popular drink menu that offers drinks by the pitcher or by the glass, guests love their sangrias and margaritas with their tasty Mexican food. Using fresh ingredients on beautiful small plates, items that are a must order include guacamole and chips, ceviche, quesadillas and more to start. Larger plates include their tasty chicken enchiladas, as well as their carne asada steak, and fajitas. Soups, salads, and flour or corn tacos are also on offer.

Article by Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who covers: restaurants, bars, dating, relationships, sports and other lifestyle topics. More of his work can be viewed at Connect with him on Twitter: @JaroneAsh.
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