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A Mexican Fiesta: 1.5 Stars for La Serenata de Garibaldi, J.Gold at Red O

1) La Serenata de Garibaldi: A rare departure from her fine dining haunts, SIV hands out one and a half nostalgic stars to Boyle Heights Mexican institution La Serenata de Garibaldi. She recollects dining there in the mid-‘90s, describing the spot as “one of L.A.’s best Mexican restaurants,” with “freshly made tortillas and soft tacos piled with chunks of fresh mahi mahi drizzled with gently smoldered salsa.” She continues on to say, “For me, it was love at first bite. And I felt that way for a long time despite the occasional disappointing meal. Now I don't expect any culinary revelations but enjoy the restaurant more for its tradition and history.” So, fast forward to her most recent dining experiences, “not all the sauces are as subtly balanced as I remember,” and SIV ponders whether this is because of a serious decline in quality or because owner Jose Rodriguez is spending more time at the restaurant’s other locations. Despite shortcomings in recent years (less-than-fresh Mexican sea bass, nopales salad that lacks taste) “when the stars align, La Serenata dishes up solid and sometimes sublime Mexican cooking along with a little piece of L.A. history.” [LAT]

2) Red O: JGold returns to Red O this week, reviewing it for the first time since that controversial Twitter battle against Red O chef Rick Bayless. His first observation is, of course, the bouncer/NFL player/”door host,” who determines who will and who will not enjoy Bayless’s cuisine from night to night. “If your name is not on the clipboard, you are not exceedingly pretty or he has never seen you before, you are probably not getting into the restaurant, no matter how many people read your blog.” Gold discusses in depth some controversy surrounding Bayless, a Chicago-based student of Mexican cuisine and LA native Mexican cuisine, emphasizing the media’s construction of the Twitter-based feud between Gold and Bayless. Putting the past to rest, Gold has returned to Red O in an attempt to mend broken ties, and this time around he highlights the cooking that “resembles high-end Mexico City restaurant food more than Esparza will ever let on, but with a lot less excitement than you’ll find in the best local kitchens.” He recommends the mushroom ceviche, “minced with herbs and served on a curling sliver of plantain,” as well as the “cazuela of lamb, stewed in the clay pot with chiles and cumin until it almost collapses.” [LAW]

The Elsewhere: The Find samples Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine, Diana Takes A Bite at Bastide, Eat: LA hits The Park, Midtown Lunch loves Ludo's Fried Chicken Truck, and Brand X dines at La Huasteca.

Red O

8155 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90048 Visit Website

La Serenata de Garibaldi

1842 East 1st Street Los Angeles, California 90033