California’s cuisine is heavily influenced by many cultures and countries. It’s a melting pot of cuisines from Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the typical American cuisine. California is a large state that has the geographical benefits of being located close to the ocean and the countryside, which make for excellent sources of produce.

Mexican cuisine has heavily influenced Californian cuisine due to its close proximity to the country, as well as its large Hispanic communities scattered around the state. It’s not hard to find authentic Mexican food in California. Latin Americans have been able to bring in native ingredients from their home country while combining them with fresh California produce. California is a good place to start a gastronomic exploration of Mexican cuisine.

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More than Just a Taco

Tacos are delicious and popular, but there is more to Mexican food than just tacos. This guide will focus on other Mexican dishes from restaurants worth checking out (listed below). Some of these restaurants offer this Mexican cuisine staple, but the focus is on other dishes that are just as good, if not better than tacos.

Mexican food is popular because it offers a lot of quick bites and simple dishes. A really good burrito can be a meal in itself. Especially if it’s filled with a lot of meat and rice!

Where to Eat

Burritos La Palma is known for its beef birria and chicken burritos. It is a loved and trusted Mexican restaurant that does not scrimp on ingredients despite the cheap prices.

  • Cost: from $3.50 for burritos
  • Location: El Monte, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Los Angeles, CA

The Chori Man makes their own Mexican chorizo using recipes that have been passed down for generations. They also offer classic Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.

  • Cost: $9.50 per 1lb of chorizo
  • Location: San Pedro, CA

Taqueria El Farolito is an unassuming, small establishment that serves big portions. It’s not unusual to see long lines flowing outside this restaurant. If there is one item not to miss, it’s their legendary burrito. If you can spare an extra dollar, order the carne asada. A mere $20 could feed a couple to their heart’s content!

  • Cost: from $8.99 for a regular burrito
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

Mariscos El Faro is a food truck known for serving seafood cooked in Sinaloa style. Travelers should order the aguachile tostadas and the shrimp empanada. Buy some food and take advantage of the outdoor seating on good-weather days! There’s nothing like eating fresh seafood outdoors while taking in the scenery.

  • Cost: $6.50 for aguachile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Guelaguestza champions Oaxacan cuisine. It’s a restaurant and market rolled into one. It’s a family-owned restaurant that’s been around since 1994 and is a well-loved restaurant in the community. Guelaguestza has been a key player in the restaurant scene of Los Angeles.

  • Cost: about $20 per main course; family-style meals from $85
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Mariscos Jalisco specializes in seafood dishes. This well-known food truck offers tacos, ceviche, and fresh oysters. Those who like spicy food will enjoy the Poseidon, which is a shrimp and octopus tostada.

  • Cost: $8.25 for Poseidon
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

SoCal showcases the diversity of Mexican cuisine and offers vegetarian and gluten-free options on their menu. So-Calo is owned by celebrity chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken and has won many awards since it opened in 2019. Despite being located in a hotel, it gives off a laid-back vibe.

  • Cost: from $29 for a main dish
  • Location: Santa Monica, CA

Madre is a restaurant for those who want to look beyond burritos and tacos. At Madre, you will find a delicious sampling of excellent Oaxacan cooking. It has a local following, so it’s best to come just before dinner time to get a table. Order the famous Moles, and choose a drink from their selection of tequilas and mezcal!

  • Cost: $18 for Moles
  • Location: Torrance, CA

Bar Hermanito is a cantina-style Mexican restaurant in Sawtelle. It is the perfect place to have after-work margaritas. It has a pleasant outdoor seating area, which is the perfect spot for a casual brunch with some friends. Do not miss the Sonoran-style tortillas and Asian-Mexican fusion dishes.

  • Cost: from $14 for a Birria Plate
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

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The Beauty Of Mexican food

Mexican food is so well-loved around the world because it is quite diverse and filled with layers of flavor created by the combination of spices and fresh ingredients. Mexican food is simultaneously refreshing and hearty.

On the practical side, one does not need to look too far to find a Mexican restaurant that serves good food. Moreover, one does not have to spend a lot of money for a good dining experience. Per the recommendations above, there are establishments that offer dishes for less than $5, while others charge at least $15.

Mexican food plays a huge role in the Californian lifestyle and culture. With a large population of Latin Americans (particularly Mexicans) in the state, there is no shortage of Mexican food options. While tacos have been the face of Mexican cuisine, Californians know there are other options. Mexican cuisine itself is quite complex, due to the differences in each region. Restaurateurs in California have done a good job of representing the diversity within Mexican cuisine. The next time you go to your favorite Mexican haunt, make sure to order something that you haven’t tried before!

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