In Jewish L.A., authentic Mexican that's rigorously kosher.
On a recent trip to SoCal to visit a client, I stopped off in the heart of Jewish Los Angeles (Pico-Robertson Boulevard, of course) to check out Mexikosher, a kosher Mexican restaurant that that tastes like the real deal in Mexican cooking.
What makes this place different, and so much better, than kosher “Mexican” restaurants I’ve eaten at in New York is that this isn’t fast food.
Mexikosher in LA is an entirely different beast. The restaurant is run by non-Jewish Mexican-Japanese chef, Katsuji Tanabe, who loves the challenge of cooking quality kosher food. He's super friendly and came out to chat with me as I was enjoying my meal. They cook quality meats, creating homemade sauces, and running special dishes different nights of the week that their clientele go crazy for. Their main restaurant is a small location with both indoor and outdoor seating for less than 20 people. They also have a food truck that makes its way to different neighborhoods around LA and the suburbs bringing its kosher Mexican fare outside of the kosher LA hub.
Californians have high standards when it comes to Mexican food, so when I got there at 9 pm on the Wednesday night before Pesach and found that the place remained busy until it closed at 11 pm, I could tell that Mexikosher really knows what it's doing in the kitchen. While waiting online to order I was excited and confused. The menu was largely of items in Spanish, many of which I did not recognize from any menu I've ever seen before, but thankfully they've been translated.
My friends helped me pick out a sampling of tacos, which to my surprise, only come in soft tortillas. The hard shell taco that I know of as a sheltered Jewish East Coaster (eating Ortega tacos out of the box) did not prepare me for this delightful experience.
In addition to the sampling of meats on my tacos, I enjoyed fresh guacamole, and their homemade salsas with flavors that included ingredients like mango, habaneros, and chipotle among many others. The tacos came with a side of refried beans and Spanish rice. Just for good measure, I ordered the chimichangas, a deep-fried roll of refried beans, which I loved, of course. And to top it all off, they were selling Coke & Sprite bottles from Mexico, i.e. without HFCS, just plain old sugar cane.
Now I'm just waiting for authentic kosher Mexican cuisine to come to New York.
Dani Klein is the founder of YeahThatsKosher.com, a global Jewish travel and kosher restaurant guide. Klein was named to the Jewish Week's inaugural '36 Under 36' list in 2008. Continue this discussion with Dani on Twitter: @YeahThatsKosher