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THE BEACH GOURMET: Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican Restaurant:

Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican Restaurant is a familial business in more ways than one. The Rodriguez family has been serving home-cooked Mexican dishes in the traditional way since 1974 at this restaurant, which is now run by five siblings, with Fernando Rodriguez in the captain’s chair.

I visited for a Sunday lunch pit stop, and upon entering it was obvious that there is a real customer loyalty here given that all of the walls of the restaurant are papered with photographs of smiling faces of patrons of the past 32 years, including a cute picture of a guest presumably vacationing in Paris and proudly displaying an “Eat at Gilbert’s” sign in front of the Eiffel Tower. Now that’s what I call word of mouth!

 The staff really means business here as I was hustled to my table within seconds of saying “hi” to the statue of an Indian positioned right by the door.  Gilbert’s appears beyond popular, with a perpetual procession of guests eager to be fed.

I was soon digging into some chips and salsa. A word of caution to those with baby tongues; the standard salsa is on the hot side so be careful.  Their traditional menu is extensive and offers the full range of south of the border specialties, including chile verde (pieces of pork in green chile sauce, $9.40) and Antojitos Mexicanos with eleven choices including tacos, chile rellenos, enchiladas and variables of these choices ($9.15). I tossed my imaginary coin and fate served up a vegetarian burrito ($4.85) that should have been delivered by a forklift truck! Yes, it was HUGE, and smothered with melted yellow cheese and a very tasty verde sauce.  The guts of this monster were satisfaction perfecto with lashings of rice, beans, avocado, lettuce and tomato leaving me wondering whether this dish required its own agricultural policy!

With a neat little corner bar (full) churning out a steady supply of “always on a Sunday” margaritas and bloody Mary’s, early bird and Monday through Thursday specials, a great menu and atmosphere, this was a neat, albeit brief, experience.

About halfway through my meal my good friend Louie, a Mexican-American with a natural affinity for these recipes, arrived and ordered a beef taco ($2.35) with chile relleno and rice and beans ($6.10). He stated simply, “It’s very good.” 

I’ll leave it at that.

Gilberts, 2562 Pico Blvd., 310.450.8057 

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