Border Grill

1445 Fourth St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401


  • Sun.-Thu., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • $$
  • Lunch, Dinner, Brunch
  • Full bar
  • Catering, Private Party, Takeout
  • Garage Parking, Street Parking
  • Reservations Accepted
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are perhaps the unlikeliest great Mexican chefs in what is the second-biggest city in all Aztlan, neither Mexican by heritage nor serving a primarily Mexican clientele — I suspect that most of their customers revere the place mostly for the potent artisanal-tequila margaritas, the deafening buzz and the baskets of warm chips. But while the chefs may not claim to redefine Mexican food, they do prepare it exceedingly well, using impeccable technique and first-rate ingredients to transform the taco, the tostada and the homely chile relleno into creatures almost unrecognizable if you're used to their Cal-Mex equivalents, as well as constructing scholarly takes on elaborate traditional foods like jet-black huitlacoche sauces or sweet chiles en nogada. The long, black dining room, an artifact of the late 1980s whose crazily skewed ceiling is still painted with rocket ships and batmen, looks even better now than it did when the place first opened. Border Grill is the rare mainstream Mexican restaurant whose tacos don't make you yearn for a truck parked by an auto-parts junkyard somewhere in East L.A.

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