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The Beach Gourmet: Don Antonio’s: A Taco Tabernacle

Travel just east of Bundy on Pico Boulevard on a Wednesday evening around 6:00 p.m., and you will usually see a line of vehicles on the north side of the street awaiting valet parking, with people huddled on the sidewalk outside Casa Don Antonio’s. They are awaiting entry into this medium-sized Mexican restaurant for good reason…Wednesday is $1 taco night, when this place is more popular than a Kleenex salesman at the Oscars. And for good reason too: their food is quite simply some of the best Mexican home cooking to be had, period.

A friend and I visited this past Sunday at lunchtime and had the pleasure of enjoying the luscious life at Don Antonio’s.

This restaurant is split into three distinct sections, each with a tone all its own. First, there are two adjoining rooms with unique grotto/cave designs, including randomly shaped mirrors set into the walls, giving an almost otherworldly feel to them (rather like a set from The Tomorrow People.) There is also a traditional Mexican-style room with a large and well-stocked bar which includes a good row of stools for the happy hour types. Out back there is a most beautiful semi-covered patio, replete with effective heaters, and a delightful fountain caressing the ears with gentle water music.

We didn’t really have too much choice in regard to our seating, as the restaurant was, once again, busy, so we were grateful to snatch a booth after a 10-minute repast at the bar.

Our server, Arnolfo, was there in an instant, as were the fresh chips and spicier- than-normal salsa. The menu itself, although comprehensive, is standard Mexican, with only Don Antonio’s Super Burrito being an exception, and that only for size. It is simply, as we observed, massive!

So, from this menu my friend chose the chorizo with eggs and cheese ($5.50) and for an extra buck had the “Wet Topping,” which is a tasty enchilada-style sauce. This dish was, according to her, excellent, and evidence was provided at the end of the meal by a plate that appeared absolutely clean and unused!

I opted to be a bit “creative” with a potpourri from the a la carte selection with one cheese and onion enchilada ($2.75), one chile relleno ($3.00) one crispy potato taco ($2.75) some rice ($2.00) and voilà – a traditional and hearty Mexican plate.

The arrival was swift and the plates were hot. The portions were large, and as I began to eat I noticed that small touches such as the sliced radish and lettuce dressing and the finely grated cheese on the crispy taco displayed that little extra touch of pride often amiss from such good value establishments.

This food was absolutely delicious. The enchilada was perfect with one of the best sauces I could imagine, the chile relleno immensely flavorful and the rice nice and fluffy, as it should be. The real jewel in the crown was the potato taco (no wonder taco night is so busy!). A large crispy taco, perfect pieces of soft hot potato, fresh lettuce and finely grated cheese, add a splash of salsa, and these fresh and super flavorful ingredients make for a tantalizing taco treat.

The food here is really excellent, and great value too. Remember, expect it to be busy, and on Wednesday $1 taco night, come early.

Well done, Don.

Don Antonio’s, 11755 W. Pico Boulevard, 310.312.2090

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