With popular Mexican restaurants such as Snapper Jack’s, Chipotle, and Corrales dominating our city, it’s easy to get caught up in experiencing the same meals over and over again by not deviating from these standard few. Here are some less well-known options to help you shake up your Mexican dining options, and to provide a more authentic and fresh meal to your day.
Panaderia La Victoria:
On the bustling street of Victoria Ave. is a small, family-owned Mexican restaurant, Panaderia La Victoria. The business serves as a quick and inexpensive option when on the go.
Panaderia La Victoria is located near the 99 Cents Only Store; it’s under a staircase that leads to other businesses and next door to a liquor store. Upon arrival, baked goods in clear displays line the right wall, while a large menu that displays the restaurant’s various options is up front.
Being the basic girl I am, I ordered a classic bean, rice and cheese burrito at approximately $5.75. This seven-inch burrito was fresh, and made in less than five minutes. The server even brought it to my table once it was ready. Presentation of the food is always at its best, and the burritos are usually almost seven inches long.
Their pastries as well are almost always fresh. I highly recommend their conchas or pan dulce. Though the ambiance of the business isn’t terrific with the television constantly playing, Panaderia La Victoria offers patio seating. This authentic bakery and restaurant is one not to be forgotten with prices that can’t be beaten.
Rosabella’s Cafe and Bakery:
When heading down Thompson Boulevard with an empty stomach and in the mood for a delicious, “homestyle” cooked meal, head over to Rosabella’s, and the ways in which you perceive Mexican food will be changed for the better.
Immediately upon arrival, you are greeted with an aroma unlike anything else: tangy spices mixed with sweet seasonings, ultimately triggering your sense of taste to kick in and make you feel as if you want to indulge yourself in everything Rosabella’s has to offer.
After closure a few months back, Rosabella’s completely remodeled its cafe into a more open, family-oriented eatery, as well as added bright pastry display cases, full of fresh pan dulce and other Mexican delicacies.
What really lured me into the cafe is that there is a see-through counter where you order, allowing you to see the meats and toppings available for your meal. Tamales, tostadas, tacos, burritos, carne asada, menudo, and enchiladas are just a few of the dishes that fill the counter end to end; the choices seem endless!
There are so many different combinations of ingredients that if you went in the restaurant regularly, you would be able to try something new each time. I ordered a bean, rice, cheese and chicken burrito that was exceptional, and one of the best I have had around Ventura.
What was really great about the burrito was that I could taste the freshness of each ingredient. I could tell that it hadn’t been sitting for a long period of time, and I was given a substantial amount to leave with a full stomach.
Each plate is served with homemade tortilla chips and you are provided with as much salsa as you need. I also ordered a horchata; however, this wasn’t your ordinary “American spin” on a horchata, this was the real deal. The horchata, as well as other freshly squeezed fruit juices, were in large, basin-looking jugs with a ladle to scoop them out.
With the first sip all the flavors were evident- the rice, the cinnamon, the almonds, the milk- filling my mouth with a creamy, delicious texture and taste; it made me feel as if there was a fiesta on my tastebuds. Rosabella’s cafe and bakery is very clean but the service is mediocre. The waiters really don’t check up on the customers much; however, the food and prices are unbeatable.
Casa del Rio:
You may be driving down Wells Rd. when you come across Casa del Rio, a small Mexican restaurant on the side of the road. Although in a random location, its amazing cuisine is definitely worth the detour.
Upon entering the restaurant, you are immediately greeted with a friendly smile and a variety of booths and tables to sit at. They serve unlimited complimentary chips and homemade salsa, which not only provides the perfect amount of “heat” and flavor to the crunchy chip, but also gives you something to snack on while deciding what to order.
I decided to go with something simple and that is served at most Mexican food restaurants: a bean, rice, and cheese burrito. You may think something basic would taste the same everywhere, but this restaurant proves you wrong.
They serve a sauce and melted cheese on top of their behemoth of a burrito, complementing the classic flavors in a way that you cannot get anywhere else.
Not only is it reasonably priced, but with friendly (and remarkably fast) service and huge portions, Casa del Rio is an amazing side-of-the-road restaurant that everyone should try.
Evita’s Mexican Cafe:
Located on Main Street, Evita’s is a small, and often unnoticeable, restaurant right on the side of the road. Although it may be missed by your eye, it should not be missed by your tastebuds.
Evita’s is an authentic Mexican restaurant with a plethora of traditional dish options that can be mixed and matched to satisfy your craving. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos are just a few of the menu items.
There is also a salsa bar where various salsas are located to add flavor and spice to your food if you are so inclined. Not only is the food here incredible, but the ambiance of the restaurant enhances the authenticity of the cultural experience as well.
Many shiny picado banners hang throughout the restaurant and traditional mariachi type music fills the air. The ambiance is further improved by the extreme friendliness of the staff. Smiles and friendly conversation are present the minute you walk through the door. Staff members even begin to recognize you after you have been in the restaurant a few times, and believe me, Evita’s will leave you coming back for more.
Featured Photo Credit (from left to right): Suvee Ranasinghe/The Foothill Dragon Press; Brooklyne Shepherd/The Foothill Dragon Press; Meghan Schuyler/The Foothill Dragon Press; Julia Fickenscher/The Foothill Dragon Press