As I look over my dreadful photos from tonight’s dinner, I’m suddenly struck with the notion that I’m glancing through a 1950′s cookbook. The food looks pale, washed out, pink or greenish and generally unappetizing. THESE PICTURES ARE TRULY AWFUL. This is mostly my fault, I’m not placing blame, mind you (the lighting inside the restaurant is dark and red, so placing a bit of blame there, however). So, these faux-retro images are all I have of one of my favorite kitschy haunts in LA. (try your best to) Enjoy!
Gardens of Taxco (open since 1971) has the appearance and vibe of what LA’s very first Mexican restaurant would look like. Trying really hard to impress the steakhouse fanatics with their red leather booths and manly metallic crests from unknown families placed on all the walls.
There are no menus, instead the waiter will recite the available dishes as if they were fine Latin poetry. Doing his best, exaggerated alveolar trill when he describes the restaurant’s most famous dish “It is like the chicken was Booorrrrrrrrn in the sauce”. Probably his 50th time that night.
They do not have a full liquor license so the alcohol choices are wine or beer based. They pretty much have sangria or a wine margarita. It’s actually tasty, just more like an Orange Julius for adults. Well, young adults.
Also lending an old-fashioned appeal to the experience is the fact that each diner gets served 5 courses. I love this.
You start out with a quarter wedge of quesadilla with a hefty dollop of guacamole. So delicious.
Next course is Albondigas Soup. If you’re a vegetarian, let them know ahead of time so they can bring out the vegetarian soup. Vegetarians didn’t exist in the 50′s.
Next course is either a mini taquito or enchilada. Both are superb.
Let me warn you that this is the point of the meal where you have now eaten enough food. You don’t need anything more. You’re satisfied.
This is also when the main course comes.
When the waiter is serenading the menu to you, you choose your meat and then your sauce. We both chose chicken because we wanted the famous Booooorrrn sauce as well as the creamy cilantro sauce.
As the plates were plopped in front of us, our appetites greatly diminished, we did our best to “dive in” and try a few bites.
The food here is really spectacular. Fantastic, unique and tasty sauces, high quality meats. You don’t need to just come here for the kitsch factor.
And please don’t let my photos deter you.
After ceremoniously removing a bit of chicken gristle, we decided we were finished and took the remains to go.
Then dessert came because, why not eat more?
It’s a little dish of some soupy, custardy pudding thing with bananas hanging out at the bottom. Trying to drown themselves, perhaps? It’s actually not bad but I would have liked ice cream.
Complimentary sherry is also offered at this time. I felt like we were on the Titanic if it has sank closer to Cabo San Lucas.
The cost is $25 a person, including sherry but not including margaritas/sangrias but if you go online and print out a coupon, you can dine for only $14.95 pp if you eat between 4-7 pm.
I really recommend this place for anyone wanting a throwback Mexican dinner with lots of flair and heart and a ton of food to take home with you.
Also a good date spot, since they have roving guitar players ready to make your lover swoon.
1113 N Harper Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Open since 1971, this place has the look and feel of…1951
Mini Cheese Quesadilla
Mini Beef Taquito
Chicken in a creamy cilantro sauce
Chicken “Booooorn in the Sauce”
Banana Pudding and Sherry