Just like department stores that provide big, comfortable chairs to sit in while your significant other shops for clothes, or hotels that leave towels shaped like cool birds on your bed, walking into Salazar you’re immediately hit with one question - why aren’t more places like this? We live in Los Angeles. It hasn’t rained since 2003 and 84 degrees is a certifiable heatwave - an entirely outdoor restaurant should not be a revelation. But here we are, and here is Salazar, the shining example of how to fully take advantage of what makes this city great.
Salazar is located on the grounds of an old converted auto body shop in the neighborhood-you-never-knew-existed-before-this-summer of Frogtown. Walking into its massive desert-like patio by the LA river isn’t just cool because it feels new, it’s cool because it feels entirely different than everything else. Off to the left there’s the bar area where you can stand and drink margaritas or snag a couple of oysters before your table’s ready. Keep walking and you’ll find a window you can press your face up against like it’s the Macy’s Christmas display and watch all the tortilla making go down. It feels like you’re on vacation here - maybe in Austin, maybe in Baja, maybe in the futuristic version of LA where restaurants aren’t all windowless boxes along La Cienega. Whatever it is, you’re certainly glad to be here.
And then comes the actual meal itself. You’ll want a bunch of sides for the table (like the papas con chorizo, street corn, and beet salad), but everyone at your table should get their own tacos. Not because they aren’t shareable, but because they’re simply too good to share. If you have a big group, their grilled meat plates are all fantastic to pass around at the end (hangar steak being the best), but if you’re rolling in under four people, it tends to not be necessary. Everything here is good, and a few things - namely those tacos - are truly excellent. But Salazar is more a case study in how creating an environment people are actually excited to be in suddenly takes the pressure off of how good the next bite has to be.
Just look around you - there are friends gathering for drinks after work, families with their kids enjoying a night out of the house, and dates unfolding successfully in the corner. There’s not one specific scene or type of person here, just LA residents enjoying life outside. Just as it’s supposed to be in our city.
This bowl of street corn is an absolute must-order for the table. It’s served cold but with peppers, herbs, and a Paula Deen-approved gigantic dollop of cream on top. Mix it all together and you have heaven.
A bowl of pureed potatoes with sausage on top? Don’t defy natural human instinct. You’re going to want all of this, and maybe another one.
Spoiler alert - the cocktails at Salazar are not good. They’re f*cking fantastic. And while anything with tequila is a solid road to travel at a Mexican BBQ place, our move is the boozy horchata. We mentioned it feels like vacation here, start acting like it.
Pretty simple, but pretty damn delicious. Everybody’s serving beets right now, but this is one you need to have because they’re mesquite-grilled and yes, that’s ricotta on top.
It may seem counterintuitive to come to a restaurant with a full menu and concentrate on the tacos, but that’s simply what you’re going to do here. The al pastor is our favorite, but as long as those house-made tortillas are wrapped around the outside, we don’t really care what’s inside.
We liked this dish just fine, but we’d stick to the street corn and beet salad first.
This is a fantastic order if you have the numbers in your group to eat it. We wouldn’t order this over the tacos necessarily, but if it hits the table at the end, you won’t be able to pass it up. The pork chop is also excellent.