Our Favorite Mexican Restaurants in the SoCal Suburbs

Sep 22, 2022

Turn your town tours into taco crawls

It’s no secret: SoCal has some of the best Mexican food, period. While you’re exploring suburbia, be sure and grab a bite at some of our faves — or, better, map out an impromptu taco crawl through the top towns on your list. 

We hope you’re hungry…

#1. Santa Monica

This beachfront town, known for its pier and iconic thrill rides, is home to some of the best Mexican eateries around. Just a short walk from the beach is Tallula’s, a seafood-focused spot that makes tortillas using their own masa. Pup parents will want to come for the weekend doggie brunch. And for music lovers? There’s live music on Mondays. Another go-to? El Cholo, a beloved local institution dating to the 1920s, that has an outpost in Santa Monica. 

We also love the award-winning women-owned Socalo which serves a variety of tacos, burritos, and cocktails. Stop by for happy hour Wednesday through Friday for a salsa flight and discounted drink menu. Tequila your thing? Check out the sleek, Michelin-recommended Mercado, where locals go for contemporary Mexican fare and a selection of 60+ tequilas.  

#2. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach residents know that Papa’s Tacos is one of the best spots to grab a bite on the way to the beach. This standby along Coast Highway serves some of the best breakfast burritos around. On the other side of the highway, you’ll find the equally popular Coyote Grill. Locals have been coming here since 1989 — and you’ll see why. There’s almost nothing better than sipping a margarita on the ocean-facing patio. 

And while we’re on the subject of amazing views, don’t miss Las Brisas. Set high on Cliff Drive, this upscale eatery combines fresh California ingredients with traditional Mexican cooking techniques.

#3. Newport Beach

Javier’s is the place for upscale Mexican cuisine. Make a sunset reservation and enjoy sweeping views from the waterfront patio. Local tip: sustainable seafood dishes and hand-shaken margaritas are Javier’s signatures — don’t miss out. 

SOL is another local favorite, with amazing coastal Mexican and a dining room ideal for parties and group dinners. Also popular? Alvia’s El Ranchito, which first opened in 1975 and continues to be a go-to for casual lunches and late-night drinks.

#4. Redondo Beach

If Redondo Beach is on your list, plan to visit Ortega 120 to try their famous 120 Pomegranate Ginger Margarita. The dinner menu is inspired by Oaxacan and Mexico City flavors — and they even serve house-made churros for dessert. 

Ortega 120 isn’t the only game in town, though. There’s also Riviera Mexican Grill for cantina vibes (check the calendar for the next mariachi night). Looking for something more informal? El Burrito Jr draws a crowd for their carne asada burritos.

#5. El Segundo

Sausal is a unique, upscale eatery known for slow-roasted and wood-fired dishes. The Shrimp Fajitas and Lamb Barbacoa Enchiladas are just some of the must-try menu items — but don’t gloss over the drinks menu. The cocktail program is exceptional and cocktails are made with seasonal, farmers market ingredients. 

Also top-of-the-list? El Tarasco is a go-to for delicious no-frills Mexican food (and located right across the street). The chips and salsa and enchiladas are legendary.

#6. Ventura

Considering Ventura? When you need a break from exploring this coastal surf town, head to Rumfish for a laid-back happy hour. The shaded patio, surrounded by lemon trees, is the perfect spot to sip an orange jalapeño margarita. While the menu isn’t exclusively Mexican, you will find a savory selection of elevated tacos. Limon y Sal is another favorite in town that serves authentic Mexican dishes including seafood enchiladas. You might even catch a mariachi performance during your meal.

#7. La Jolla

Anyone settling in the San Diego area will have plenty of great Mexican restaurants to choose from. La Jolla’s Red O (which also has locations in Santa Monica and Newport Beach) offers an elevated “taste of Mexico” in its resort-style setting. Happy hour runs daily from 3-6 and features an extensive menu of street tacos, ceviche and empanadas.

While Puesto isn’t in the suburbs, it’s worth heading into San Diego for the gourmet Mexican cuisine made with organic and locally-sourced ingredients. The team behind Puesto frequently travels to Mexico City for inspiration and you’ll see it in the innovative dishes, like passionfruit & mango shrimp ceviche, that appear on the seasonal menu.

Want your own taste of the SoCal suburbs? We’re here to help! Reach out today and we’ll help you plan a SoCal suburb tour — complete with taco stops along the way.

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