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Los Angeles Taco Royalty Mexicali Announces New San Gabriel Valley Location

Star chef Esdras Ochoa is opening in the city of San Gabriel

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A quesadilla and vampiro on a bright red table at a Mexican restaurant.
Mexicali Taco
Cathy Chaplin
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Well look who is back in town. After spending the better part of the past three years traveling, appearing on television, and opening a series of globetrotting restaurants, Los Angeles’s native taco son Esdras Ochoa has returned to open a new restaurant right here at home. Ochoa plans to open a second location of longstanding Chinatown restaurant Mexicali soon, this time out in the city of San Gabriel.

A new Instagram post by Ochoa confirms the second location as the site of the Better Food, a Chinese skewer spot at 1811 S. San Gabriel Boulevard. Locals may know the restaurant building because of its parking lot and unique A-frame shape (it was, of course, a Wienerschnitzel for years). Ochoa and Mexicali partner Paul Yoo, who started as a customer at Ochoa’s street stand on 1st and Beaudry back in the day, have not disclosed an opening timeline for the new restaurant yet.

The arrival of Mexicali #2 is interesting timing for Ochoa, who only just recently opened a restaurant named Reunion 19 in Austin, Texas. He has also opened restaurants in India and Hong Kong over the past few years, and appeared on the hit Netflix food competition series the Final Table back in 2018. Esdras was even the opening chef of (and remains a partner in) Frogtown Mexican restaurant hit Salazar.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles has started to catch up with Mexicali’s menu in recent years, with an influx of stands, carts, food trucks, and restaurants now turning to mesquite-grilled charcoal, flour tortillas, vampiros, and other northern Mexico staples. Boyle Heights upstart El Ruso recently got a glowing LA Times review, and big names like Asadero Chikali have parlayed their own meat and cheese and tortilla dreams into tens of thousands of Instagram followers. Below is the full post from Ochoa on the upcoming opening.

Mexicali San Gabriel

1811 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, CA 91176