Food: Chef Juan Mondragon cooks “pre-Hispanic” cuisine, meaning Mexican food as it was before the influence of Europeans. He also aims for healthfulness and incorporates nopales, or cactus paddles, in much of his cooking. All of the food is made from scratch, including masa products and moles. This leads to some very weird eating, but also some fantastic finds on the menu. Want to know which is which? Read the review.
Drink: Juan's serves fantastic agua frescas (try the cactus and pineapple), as well as wine, beer and margaritas. I tried the prickly pear margarita, which had fantastic sweet-tart flavor but was so full of the prickly pear's woodchip-like seeds it was fairly impossible to drink and enjoy.
Looks: A bright, fun room with big-screen TVs showing Mexican ballad-singers. From the review: “Mondragon's restaurant is colorfully decorated, with bright pink and deep blue walls and Day of the Dead iconography.”
Price: If you hit on the right menu items, Juan's is an absolute bargain for the quality you're getting. The best entrees on the menu are around $16.
Takeaway: Juan's is a haul for most folks — 30 minutes (in good traffic) from the east side and considerably farther from the beach. But what chef Mondragon is doing is interesting enough to warrant the drive, if you order right.
You can read the entire review here.
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