On Father's Day, I decided to venture off to the movie studio capital of the world -- Burbank.
But away from Warner Brothers, Universal Studios and Disney, down Magnolia Boulevard away from the lights, cameras and action, there is a Mexican restaurant,Tequila's Cantina & Grill that has been open just over a year and a half.
I've driven by there countless times and if you aren't going there, you'll probably miss it.
As I was outside the restaurant, looking at the decor, I was introduced to the owner, Carlos Rivera Sr., who unexpectedly came by. I told him I would have never known about this place, and he said, "We like to call ourselves Burbank's best kept secret."
I would have to disagree with Rivera Sr. as I think this is one of LA's best kept secrets.
Carlos Rivera Sr. and Carlos Rivera Jr. have been doing their best to turn the image of the restaurant around from the previous owners.
Rivera Jr. said, "The restaurant had a bad reputation before we took it over and on Yelp they only had a one star rating."
He also said that the restaurant previously was Mexican food as well and had been open seven years prior to him and his father taking over.
"My father's dream was to open a restaurant and bar, but he wanted to do it right. So when we came in we changed everything; we changed the menu, staff, decor, added a bar -- nothing is the same from the way the restaurant was previously," said Rivera Jr.
It sounds like a great and inspiring story, but I'm not basing my review off of that. I'm basing it off the food.
Let me go on record to say... This is the best Mexican restaurant I have ever been to in Los Angeles.
Whew! I said it.
I know that is a bold statement, but it's true. The food was that good, and it didn't hurt that the ambiance and lighting was just right, with televisions in every direction having the NBA Finals on..
But back to the food. This is what I tried:
- Guacamole -- Good. And Fresh. I mean really fresh. Rivera Jr. said they make their guacamole fresh every two hours. Who does that? And what I really enjoyed was tasting the avocado still, not just having salt and pepper overpowering the avocado.
- Chicken Mole Enchilada -- Delicious. If you are looking for something light, I would try these, as they are tasty, with the sauce not draped on like some places, but just the right balance so you can taste the tortilla and shredded chicken inside.
- Ceviche -- Muy bueno. (Very good.) Fresh tasting shrimp with a nice crunch of the tortilla, this made for a great appetizer.
- Parillada -- Steak/Chicken/Shrimp Fajitas that are brought out on a sizzling platter. The shrimp was grilled perfectly and the carne asada was not dried out, but still cooked thoroughly - just the way I like it.
- Rice/Beans/Tortillas -- They offer corn and flour tortillas which are not handmade (which I prefer) but their rice and beans were so light and tasty, I didn't even know they were gone.
- Molcajete Azteca -- Now this one got me, I mean really got me in more ways than one. First I'm half Mexican and have never heard of this. (Granted the deepest I've been in Mexico was no more than twenty miles in.) But it is a dish that is in a large carved out rock, that looks like a stone age pot, which is really cool. Hanging on the sides were carne asada and cactus, and on the inside was a stick of Monterey Jack cheese, and whole jalapenos, while being engulfed with a ranchera sauce type soup that was one of a kind. I wasn't sure how to eat it, so I made some tacos with the steak, ate the cactus by themselves, and used a spoon for the soup and cheese. And then... I took a big bite of the jalapeno, (which I have a good tolerance for spicy food and sauces) but let me just say, this wasn't the average jalapeno. It was HOT! I didn't touch anything for five minutes, and it cleared up anything I could have had, or will have in the next year. Your tolerance needs to be extremely high to eat one of these. If you don't believe me, try it. But don't think the soup was spicy hot, because it wasn't. The jalapenos were still whole, and you have to bite them to get that super spicy taste.
- Deep Fried Ice Cream -- With chocolate syrup. And a cherry on top. I had two. I can't recall anytime I've had two of the same dessert, within minutes of each other. Wow. It was that good. Enough said.
They also carry over 100 different tequila's and are known for their monster blended or on the rocks margaritas that will send you to a fiesta or siesta any way you look at it.
Most importantly, customer service was top notch -- they actually care about their patrons, and Rivera Sr. responds back to every negative response on Yelp, as he said, "customer service is key in any business."
I've been to many places on many continents, with most places I would never go back to. But this place is one where I'll definitely be coming back.
Right now you can catch a $10 for $20 Yelp deal, available for a limited time by clicking here.
They are located at 4310 W. Magnolia in Burbank. For questions call (818) 845-7217.