At El Mercadito Mariachi Restaurant, food takes second place to the music: mariachi bands in snazzy cowboy suits blasting exuberant tunes on trumpets and guitars and violins. You likely will find not one but two bands crooning at once, battling for applause by playing at deafening decibels. They perform on stages designed to resemble, respectively, a tropical Incan temple, a quaint colonial village and a seaside hacienda — the better to remind you of Mexico. (The fajitas, enchiladas, birria and foot-tall ceviche platters might do that, too.) Be sure to visit on weekend afternoons, when the scene is bustling and lively, and save time to stroll the two lower floors that comprise El Mercado de los Angeles, a vast Mexican marketplace. Dozens of vendors hawk merchandise ranging from pumpkinseed mole to pink snakeskin boots — and even mariachi CDs. 3425 E. First St., Boyle Heights. (323) 262-4507, —Daina Beth Solomon

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