The San Fernando Valley’s newest hot spot is a taqueria, bar, and late-night hangout called Roadside Taco. Roadside opened last Thursday, June 17, in the former Xen Lounge club with an expansive patio, tacos, and cocktails right in the heart of Studio City.
Roadside is the work of Ben Goglia from Blue Collar bar on Fairfax and chef Lanny Marquez, who left his corporate chef gig at L.A. Live’s Rosa Mexicana to produce a menu that’s one part Mexican taco stand, one part Los Angeles. “Everything that we make is a gourmet take on a street taco,” Marquez says. “We reach certain regions of Mexico so we can showcase an ode to the classics, but with an LA and modern touch.”
Primary dishes on the menu include cochinita pibil, asada, and al pastor tacos. Marquez even took inspiration from his Salvadorean background and created a taco with Salvadoran chorizo; he also developed chicken birria instead of the more traditional stewed beef or goat. Vegetarians have more than one option with hongos (mushrooms) and cauliflower al pastor with grilled pineapple that uses a Jalisco technique.
Goglia introduced a lengthy margarita menu that features its signature drink served frozen or over ice, but also added caipirinhas and a drink called the bee keeper, made with lemon juice, lavender bitters, fresh blackberries, and bourbon. Horchata and jamaica are made in-house. But the cocktail showstopper is a michelada using Marquez’s birria consommé, fresh pineapple, and Tecate.
The partners took the former space down to the studs to remove any remnants of the former nightclub. The space is now an airy and comfy place to sit, surrounded by high walls, jasmine plants, and murals.
“We wanted to make it an extension of an LA neighbor’s backyard, and at the same time honor these roadside taco establishments that are spread throughout Mexico,” Goglia says. “As if we were if you were going down a dirt road and you stumbled upon an old garage to get your car fixed, and you realized you know kind of sons or daughters are making tacos for friends and family in the backyard.” Hours run Tuesday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 1:30 a.m., and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.