Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Salazar: First Impressions of the Eastside's Stellar Summer Spot

Belly up to the covered bar if it ever rains...as if!

Many of us have been imagining a restaurant like Salazar practically forever. A place where kids are welcome, that takes advantages of L.A.'s temperate climate, where you can sip a good margarita while eating some equally good Mexican food. A place kind of like Birba in Palm Springs. We didn't imagine it would spring up in the shell of a former car repair shop hard by the freeway where Atwater peters out and Frogtown industrially begins, but that's L.A. for you, always full of surprises.
Plenty of heat lamps just in case. Love the old school chairs.
And Salazar, conceived by Billy Silverman and Mexicali Tacos' founder Esdras Ochoa, turned out practically identical to that vision many of us had...so many, in fact, that's it's been packed since day one, and the bike-parking area in front has become a de facto playground for waiting families.

So many people already biking to dinner
Who knows what it will be like when the heaters have to come out -- the restaurant is almost completely outdoors, except for a small bar area, but for now, the long, shaded tables are one of the best places in the city to enjoy a summer evening.

Checking out the tortilla-making station
The spot-on Sonoran-style wood-grilled meats and much-more-than-margaritas cocktail menu from Aaron Melendrez makes it the rare spot that's more than just a pleasant patio. The menu promises "full menu coming soon," so it will be interesting to see what gets added to the simple list of tacos, grilled meats and fishes, and a few sides. I would recommend heating the plates so the tacos stay warmer when cooled by evening breezes, and adding chips for the guacamole. The tostada-style crisps are nice, but people do like their chips.

This crazy cocktail has mescal, brown-butter washed corn whiskey, ancho chile, huitlacoche and Mexican fernet

Lots of pretty elixirs behind the bar

Esquites - charred corn with crema 

Terrific housemade tortillas complement the grilled meats

One Yelp commenter said that Salazar can't really be part of Frogtown because the prices are too high for the locals. It's certainly true that dinner here will set two people back $60 or more. But that's the price you pay these days to build out an entire restaurant, pay the large staff, get a liquor license  and generally offer full service. Of course the tacos are more than at Tacos Leos truck -- if it's too expensive, you can get the same style of tacos at Mexicali, but without the patio and cocktails.
But if you can afford it, Salazar was definitely worth the wait. And don't miss the ridiculously retro website.

2490 Fletcher Blvd.
Los Angeles

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