great americanized mexican food, love fun place, awesome dollar margaritas, prompt attentive service, good mixed drinks, great everything, great happy hour
Border Grill serves up Modern Mexican Cuisine.
Yucatan Pork is achiote pork slow roasted in banana leaves, caramelized onion, orange, cinnamon served with sautéed plantains, rice, black beans, guacamole, and handmade corn tortillas. OMG, this is absolutely fabulous! Banana leaves are a great way to roast meats (ask anyone from Hawaii). The leaves subtly flavor the meat as it cooks. The onion, orange, and cinnamon were a beautiful combination with the succulent pork. The guacamole was creamy and tasted so fresh. The plantains were caramelized with a slightly sweet taste, reminded me of bananas foster. The tortillas had a rich roasted corn flavor, great for making your own tacos with the pork. Thumbs up, way up!
The Chile Relleno Burger is ground Black Angus brisket topped with a roasted poblano stuffed with manchego, panela, cotija cheeses inside a brioche bun with chipotle aioli, tomato, shredded romaine and served with cumin fries. This is a match made in heaven! I love chile rellenos and topped on a juicy, flavorful burger - what else could a gal (or guy) ask for! There are so many flavors going on, that your taste buds start to dance – a little spicy from the poblano, a little smoky from the chipotle aioli, creamy from the blend of cheeses, and meaty burger to bring it together like a symphony. The cumin fries were great, especially with a dip into the chile sauce that they bring out with the chips. The helping of fries could be a little bigger as it left me wanting more. They are addictive! Thumbs up, way up!
Taco truck, please. After reading a review in the LA Weekly, we were looking forward to a tasty and unique twist on Mexican food. We were quite surprised at the prices when we arrived, but made the assumption it would be perfectly spiced with a unique combination of ingredients...a treat worth the money. My boyfriend enjoyed the baby back ribs and spinach, but I thought the spicing on the ribs was heavy-handed. My shredded pork was very spicy too, but I wouldn't call it flavorful. Drinks were adequate but expensive. Overall a lot of money spent without a great deal of return. So far, not terribly impressed with Santa Monica's mexican food since we just went to Lares, which was cardboard bland.
Happy Hour from Hell.
I love alcohol. I love happy hours. Shoot, I sound like Asher Roth. Let's start this one over.
Who doesn't love happy hour? Exactly. So on Friday, me and some friends got off of work early on the Westside in Los Angeles and wanted to find a good happy hour to get the weekend started off on the right foot. You would think that the only reason most of us don't make happy hour is because we have jobs but in reality, at least in Santa Monica, CA, happy hour is not so easy to find at 3:30. Most of the happy hours we knew of started at 5 and we just didn't want to wait. (Sushi Roku is a good one of those 5 o clock happy hours.) So we drove around and made some calls and ended up at Border Grill in Santa Monica. We thought, "This is perfect: margaritas and tacos." Well, we were wrong. In retrospect, we should have just paid full price somewhere (or stabbed each other in the legs with pencils and just gone home).
I wasn't even sure it was open until I pushed in the door and saw that it was actually pretty crowded. The place seemed dirty, almost unhygienic. I don't get how place like this can legally stay open. For starters, the lights weren't even on. The place was pitch black and dead silent. The people already there looked like they were frozen in time in that exact location and dust had been building up on them and the restaurant for about twenty years. A bar is a bar though, so we sat down at some empty bar stools and ordered drinks. $5 a drink. Happy hour. Whoopdie doo. The drinks were fine and all but not that cheap and definitely not cheap enough to warrant the ambiance in that dump. Then we made the mistake of trying some tacos. These were no $1 tacos. These were $3 each on the happy hour menu. Honestly, they looked like they had been delivered from the cafeteria in my old UCLA dorm circa 2002 and had sat around in Border Grill's dirty kitchen since then waiting for my arrival. These were so bad they were inedible.
We asked for the check and went to El Cholo on Wilshire in Santa Monica. They didn't have a happy hour. That place is actually weird too but that's neither here nor there. At least it was clean and outside of the twilight zone. Avoid Border Grill in Santa Monica at all costs and if you are thinking to yourself right now, "I like that place," take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and recognize that your taste stinks and no one gives a darn what you think. Happy Hour from Hell.
Tasty but not inexpensive. After wandering around the promenade for a bit for something new, we found the Border Grille a block away. The Carnitas Nortenas were good, with the full complement of sides- guacamole, serranos, house-made tortillas, and other stuff. I would not say they were better than carnitas I've had other places, but they were $5-$6 more expensive than other places I've been too. I'd also agree with other reviewers that the drinks were quite pricey. The margaritas and mojitos were around $12. The atmosphere was nice - the interesting paintings on the walls and bright colors. On the service issue, it was a bit strange. We were told there would be a half hour wait because we hadn't made reservations - yet half the tables appeared empty. Perhaps there weren't enough waiters. In any case, we were seated immediately at the family/communal table when we said that was alright. There were already ten people sitting around the table. That made it interesting - in a good way. Our waiter took our order quick enough, but then there were periods when we didn't see him for a bit too long. He did suggest the perfect entree for my wife. And the speed with which the food was delivered after being ordered was impressive. I'd say we were served in about five minutes. It was the follow up for other items that had us looking for our waiter. A decent experience overall. The below average rating is based on value.
Eclectic menu with amazing flavor combinations. Just went to this restaurant for the first time even though I have walked past it countless times. What a gem! My party tried 3 different appetizers and 1 entree dish and everything was both unique and delicious. The shrimp ceviche was sauced differently than I've ever had it with more of a tomato base but it was delicious. Enjoyed the endive and pear salad...the blue cheese added a great touch. The entree was a slow-cooked pork dish (don't remember the name) that was super-flavorful. The highlight of the evening was their Moroccan Eggplant appetizer, which was one of the specials. SOO delicious, very highly recommended. It came with a curry cream sauce that had so many distinct flavors that all compliment each other and the eggplant wonderfully. The waiters were amazing and basically standing around waiting to serve us. The Maitre d' came over to make sure all was well with the meal and even chatted with us for a few minutes. Great experience! I was thrilled to see that in touristy Santa Monica, a restaurant still knew how to treat its customers.
The favoritism and partiality was ridiculous! Overpriced & uneventful. Not worth it!. Deplorable for an upscale restaurant. The male (age 40s) waiter was insincerely fake as he approached our table. When he realized that we were not ordering drinks (only food) his entire demeanor changed. He was no longer nice. Didn't check in or refill anything. We had to ask other staff for help. He then dotted on a part of ten towards the back. His favoritism and partiality was ridiculous! It had completely changed my feeling about eating out in LA. I usu just pick up food to go. Dining out is no longrer fun but a chore. Waiters are sadistic towards me and enjoy seeing me hurt. What is wromg with these people!!! Anyways, the food was overpriced. The portions smaller than before. A disappointment. A costly disappointment. We had a party of 6. We were celebrating abirthday. After the large bill, the mean waiter still charged us half-price for the dessert when he told me he wouldn't. A sleezy experience. Waiters are so fickle & too faced. Yuck!
Cool Upscale Mexican. This is definitely one of the cooler Mexican places in Santa Monica. The food is great (Try the empanadas), but the bar scene is also pretty lively. They have a great selection of beers on tap and have everything else you would expect from a Mexican place. We went here for Cinco de Mayo and had a great time, but it seems like the crowd kind of depends on the night. Definitely worth checking out.
The Border Girls seem not to care. Having periodically eaten here for many years, I finally have to say farewell. Never liking any of the entrees, I always enjoyed the starters and salads -- these, too, have become what one would expect from a mid-level nationwide chain of Mexican restaurant factories. For the past few visits, it's become apparent that the two celebrity chef owners have left the building. Even those $20 coupons from Whole Foods won't bring me back. High points -- pleasant, attentive service, and decor still works.
one to miss, won't be going back.
Service: our waiter was friendly and even took one of our bad-tasting dishes off our bill without us having to ask. also, they were good about keeping our drinks filled up.
Chips: they were yummy. however, the salsa was sub-par. the person who said it tastes like shrimp cocktail had it right.
Poblano Quesadilla: the first bite tasted ok, but then we realized it was super greasy and salty. it was also really thin. as soon as it wasn't really hot anymore, it tasted worse. Inside of quesadilla: imagine 1/2 centimeter thick sea-sponge, covered in brown grease, with the occational string of mucky green.
Vegetable plate: Creamed corn was about 5 steps below chevy's cream corn. Blackbeans were actually gross (bland, lard-like, and like plain whole wheat flower mixed in). Zuchini were unrecognizable, not to mention sour, slimey, and coated in wet salt. Did not even touch the mushrooms or the onions, considering they resembled (and smelled like) old worms. As for the "potatos" or what not, tasted exacly like old greasy fries douced in vicscous cheese and old, stringy, unidentifiable veggies. Everything else on the plate: could not identify (neither by taste, look, or smell). This plate was returned, and kindly removed from our bill.
Chicken dish with some cassarole (glop) underneath it: The chicken itself was OK I guess, but not better than my Foreman grill can make. It was sitting on a pile of brown/green glop that I couldn't recognize. Looked something like wet sand with a tinge of (again) mucky green. Tasted like sand as well, combined with animal grease, rotted and pungent chile peppers(???), mold??? Who knows what was in it, but it tasted like half-digested camel feed (see Man v. Wild).
Certainly passed on dessert after this disaster. We nonetheless felt bad for the waiter (who was quite nice), and left a tip. it is now about 5 hrs since our meal, and i can still taste it. NEVER COMING BACK.
Great Food, Great Service, Great Ambiance. I love this place. The food is yummy. The waiters are great. The only thing is this place can get really busy, so make sure you make reservations before going. However, if you didn't make reservations, you can always try to eat in the bar area. There is also a gargantuan communal table in the bar area, where you can grab a seat (if it's available) and order anything on the menu without a wait! Woohoo!
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