Located at 2490 Fletcher Drive in Los Angeles,3.8 miles from the Hollywood sign, lies a hidden Sonoran-inspired Mexican eatery known as Salazar.
I found its location incredibly unique, so naturally, I assumed the restaurant would be as expensive as most L.A. eateries.
However, Salazar’s reviews praised its affordability featuring a five-star vibe, so as a college foodie I had to check this out.
Walking into the restaurant was like being magically transported from suburban Los Angeles to Sonora, Mexico.
Esdras Ochoa, the manager and owner of the restaurant, carefully observed the waiters and waitresses, constantly making sure the customers felt at home.
“Growing up as a Mexico native in a poor family, I created this restaurant so that people could discover an authentic taste of fresh Mexican cuisine at a family-affordable price,” said Ochoa.
The restaurant isn’t too over-the-top but is still welcoming and fabulous.
The dulled pastel lunch chairs, looking as if they were pulled from the set of a 1980s movie, and the dirt underfoot helps the restaurant uphold it’s desert vibe.
The spacious patio boasts a box-shaped building, which used to be an automobile shop. It has now evolved into a glossy bar and kitchen space with a rustic touch to add aesthetic.
In the area of the kitchen that faces the patio, you can observe women carefully preparing and rolling out masa, dough, for the homemade tortillas.
About 85 to 90 percent of the restaurant’s dining space is outdoors, which did leave me wondering how the restaurant would fare during the rainy season.
As I was seated, a seemingly mystical gust of wind carried the smell of fresh carne asada and onion directly to me, making my mouth water immediately.
Next, I was offered a complementary strawberry juice and coconut milk drink, called ‘Chica’, one of Salazar’s many drinks from their extensively innovative and creative drink menu.
The strawberries lightly massaged and caressed my taste buds as the coconut milk added a creamy and delicate finish.
After that, I was kindly greeted by Karina Garcia, head waitress at Salazar.
“I work and serve here because of its core values at bringing the community together through fresh and healthy ingredients,” said Garcia.
I observed the dinner menu, and the reviews were correct—the tacos were only $3.75 and quesadillas were $5.
The service was fast and efficient as I received my meal in roughly 22 minutes.
I ordered four tacos: carne asada, carnitas, chicken, and chorizo.
The tortillas were smooth, buttery, and warm.
The meat was well seasoned and melted in my mouth, leaving me taken aback as I had never had Mexican food this delicious and authentic.
Channing Reid, a frequent of the restaurant and sophomore at Azusa Pacific University, ordered the carne asada tacos.
He raved: “These were probably the best tacos I have tasted in California, 10/10”.
Sophia Fullen, a first time visitor to the restaurant and a sophomore at Azusa Pacific University, ordered the shrimp quesadilla and the strawberry rose water lemonade.
She proclaimed: “The food and drink here are unmatched. This restaurant is a true hidden gem.”
If you ever wish to make the one hour-15 minute commute from CSUSB, be prepared to embark on a journey to a Sonoran paradise filled with pastel colors, warm smiles, desert vibes, and most importantly, scrumptious food that is well worth the traffic.