Restaurant Musical Chairs, Mexican Edition: Frida's Tacos in, Santito's Tortas out
In restaurant musical chairs, as in life and in the CBS show Survivor, there are those who seem to know how to play the game inherently. Such is the case with Frida's Tacos, which opened last week on Melrose, in the spot recently occupied by lucha libre-themed eatery, Santito's Mexican Grill Tortas, and Yuri Japanese Cafe before that. The spot at 7217 Melrose, like many of the addresses on that street, has been less of a home to restaurants than a revolving door of them, but Frida's seems to have the right ingredients to finally stabilize it.
Not only will Frida's likely absorb the holdover customers from the last Mexican restaurant housed in the spot, the small-scaled, casual offshoot of Frida Mexican restaurant on Beverly Drive will benefit from a built-in following of its flagship restaurant. That said, you could argue that Frida's opening doesn't actually constitute brilliant musical chairs strategy, and instead is merely a case of exceptional luck. But consider this: it took only a few short weeks to open Frida's after Santito's closed. And given the time it takes for the average restaurant transition--a few months at the absolute minimum--Frida's has a huge financial leg up coming out of the gate, even if the opt for minimal remodeling means it still looks like Santito's.
Of course the interior has been repainted and the signage replaced, and the items on the menu have changed. (That is, they've more or less changed. We're talking about switching from taco shop to taco shop, not taco shop to Red O.) But the menu itself--a long chalkboard-type menu hanging just to the left of the entrance--is almost exactly the same. The layout in general is the same too, which alone is not terribly remarkable, given the limited space afforded by the location's thin rectangular shape, but the chairs and tables are also the same.
Hopefully though, the quality of the food is enough to differentiate Frida's from its predecessor. The menu is fairly well-rounded; in addition to the requisite tacos, burritos, and tortas, there's pozole and homemade churros, as well as an entire breakfast menu, which is served until 2 p.m. daily. But the tacos are still the main draw. And rightly so: each one packs a mountain of robust, marinated meat, into four inches of corn tortilla, and sells for $2.25, $9.95 for five.
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