Restaurants: Celebrate Cinco De Mayo 2013 in the San Fernando Valley

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BY KAREN YOUNG

Tacos at Loteria Grill.

Tacos at Loteria Grill.

Cinco de Mayo is recognized as a regional holiday in Mexico and around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. It is often confused with Mexican Independence Day which is on September 16. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

In honor of the Cinco de Mayo this weekend, here are a handful of festive and unique sit down/server Mexican eateries in the 818 to consider.

LOTERIA GRILL

Known for regional Mexican cuisine, Loteria Grill is a departure from the Mexican food found at most L.A. restaurants. The Food Network hailed owner/chef Jimmy Shaw’s mole as the best on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and Bon Appetit named him the best Mexican Chef in Los Angeles.  Lotería Grill will celebrate Cinco de Mayo at each of its Los Angeles locations with a special limited 5-5-5 menu available throughout the day.to include  Shaw’s five “best of” tacos, alongside the top five house-favorite margaritas and five Mexican beers. Choose from: Carne Deshebrada (shredded beef, guacamole, salsa roja de chipotle, chopped onion, and cilantro); Pollo en Mole Poblano (chicken in mole poblano served with toasted sesame seeds,  onion, and queso fresco); Carnitas (michoacan-style, in a spicy chile morita sauce served with avocado), Papa con Rajas (potatoes with roasted poblano peppers served with salsa verde cruda and queso fresco), and Camaron (pan-seared shrimp in a choice of spicy morita salsa or fresh tomatillo salsa, served with crema Mexicana and avocado).   Don’t miss the Tamarindo Margarita! 12050 Ventura Blvd. Studio City (818) 508.5300 Other locations: Farmers Market:  Third and Fairfax; Hollywood: 6627 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles; Westlake Village: 180 Promenade Way, Westlake Village

CASA VEGA

A San Fernando Valley classic since 1958, Casa Vega is a family owned and operated restaurant known for its margaritas, dim lighting and lively atmosphere.  To celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, Casa Vega has partnered with George Clooney, Rande Gerber, and Mike Meldman’s newest undertaking, Casamigos Tequila, for a day of festivities.  They  will be offering several cocktails made with Casamigos Tequila, including the  Mi Casa es Su Casa, made with Casamigos Blanco tequila, basil, lime, agave nectar and grapefruit soda; as well as Casamigos Margaritas ,and specials on reposado and blanco tequilas served straight up (cocktails $7.95, shots $7). Enjoy specialty appetizers, such as the Supreme Vega Combo appetizer with Black Bean Taquitos, Beef and Chicken Taquitos, and Flour Quesadillas; or the customer favorite — Pollo en Mole, with a half chicken simmered in red mole sauce, topped with sesame seeds and red onions, and served with a side of tortillas.  If you have room, then the Papa’s Grande Sundae is a must — this family-style sharing dessert is made with five scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream, Warm Churros, Salted Caramel Sauce, and Whipped Cream, served tableside on a dessert cart. There is also an  onsite photo booth  to capture the fun. Open from 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m.  13301 Ventura Blvd. (between Fulton and Nagle Avenue) Sherman Oaks 818-788-4868

SENOR FRED

Trendy and dark with red booths, Senor Fred has more of a lounge feel than most Mexican restaurants — well, in the 818 at least. This Cinco de Mayo there’s a  a special on drinks and food.  A choice of $7 cocktails includes: Classic Margarita, Passion Margarita, Yucatan Sangria, Sour Apple Martini and Classic Mojito. Beers are $3.50 and special small dishes including Sopes, Tingas, Flautas, Taquitos, Gorditas for $5.  It’s first come, first serve.  13730 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks (818) 789-3200

EL MARIACHI

This Mexican restaurant is part dining room, part sports bar and part event center. The façade simulates a Mexican hacienda with a double wood door and windows with shutters. Upon entering there is a fountain and book shelves. The main bar area is surrounded by flat screens, high tables and booths, and carefully placed cultural décor (complete with a Lopez family sign), while the dining area consists of more sedate tables and chairs.  There will be  mariachis playing all day and a special buffet for $20 per person. 15627 Ventura Blvd., Encino (818) 380-0160.

SOL Y LUNA 

Sitting on Ventura Blvd between Tarzana and Woodland Hills, Sol Y Luna feels like an eatery you might stumble upon in Mexico, albeit amped up in the kitsch department — think Mexican statues, artwork and twinkle lights. Hand blended margaritas (one is enough) and table side guacamole are specialties. Strolling musicians with guitars will take requests and serenade you. It’s not a place for quiet conversation. Be prepared to raise your voice, but it’s all worth it for good food and fun. 19601 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana (818) 343-8488

SAGEBRUSH CANTINA

This Calabasas hotspot with indoor and outdoor seating is having a two part celebration. Start with their Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — an  all-you-can-eat buffet that includes bottomless champagne, sodaand orange juice, two vodka shots,  omelette bar, seafood bar, carving station, dessert bar,  breakfast favorites, mexican specialties  and more. Brunch prices: 11 and up is $25.95, children 5-11 is $13.45 and under 5 is free. The big party starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. with live bands performing throughout the day.  The drink list is extensive with specialty tequilas, a good selection of Mexican beers and the cantina’s ‘don’t miss’ margaritas.  Reservations for six or more may be made for indoor or outdoor patio seating by calling (818) 222-6062.  Cinco de Mayo or not — it’s always a party at Sagebrush.  23527 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas.

Where are you celebrating Cinco De Mayo? Tell us in the comments below! 

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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