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Babita: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

In a neighborhood better known for its Vietnamese noodle shops, across street from a Serbian Orthodox church, Babita isn't quite where you would expect a great Mexican restaurant to be, and you could drive by a hundred times without noticing it was there. It is neither a taco shop nor a cheap margarita mill: The prices reflect the cost of the ingredients, and this address has been a destination for commuting Westsiders since it housed a well-known Yucatecan restaurant a decade or two ago. But chef-owner Roberto Berrelleza, who worked as a maître d' at places like the Brown Derby long before he ever picked up a pan, is a devotee of modern Mexican cuisine, especially the coastal cooking of his Sinaloan hometown, Los Mochis, and many of the seemingly classic dishes have been invented by Berrelleza himself: his salmon-stuffed gueritos chiles in strawberry salsa, his sautéed salmon with huitlacoche and quesillo, and his tequila-sautéed shrimp with a creamy chayote gratin. The oozy, porky version of chiles en nogada, a sweet, festive chile relleno lightened with dried fruit and toasted pecans, is probably the best in a chile-mad town — if you're anywhere near the restaurant in the September-January period in which it is served, you really should drop in. 1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel. (626) 288-7265. Lunch, Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; dinner, Sun., Tues.-Thurs., 5:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5:30-10 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. All major CC. Mexican.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Babita Mexicuisine
miles

1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776

626-288-7265

www.babita-mexicuisine.com