05 Oct Please The Palate Pick of the Week: A Family Tradition at Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant on Melrose Avenue
As a child growing up in Los Angeles, going out to eat was a special occasion. And when we did go out, there was one restaurant that my parents took us to rather regularly. It was Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant on Melrose Ave in West Hollywood. Over the years, I have returned to Antonio’s, including this week. No matter how many years have passed, there is something familiar, welcoming and comforting about going to Antonio’s and it is the Please The Palate Pick of the Week.
Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant opened on Melrose Avenues in 1970. Featuring dishes from Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Vera Cruz, and Monterey, and Nuevo Leon, the hometown of owner Antonio Gutiérrez. Antonio’s was a popular location for celebrities in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1970s my grandparents and my parents would dine at Antonio’s. And they would also bring my brother and me. This was the restaurant for most family celebrations. My brother picked Antonio’s as the restaurant he wanted to go to each year for his birthday. My mom threw my dad a surprise 40th birthday party at Antonio’s. And I held my 30th birthday dinner at Antonio’s.
Over the years I dined at Antonio’s and many times, I would take friends and clients there when they came to visit. But I realized that I had not been there in over five years and so I decided to go this week. And Antonio’s was exactly as I remembered.
Antonio was sitting at the door, greeting everyone. He is much older now and instead of standing at the door in his Mexican suit, he was sitting in a chair. But he was there and he is there every single night! I walked in and despite the number of years it has been, he recognized me. And, like he has told friends in the past, he told my dining companions that he has known me since I was a baby. The fact that he remembers me and recognized me despite not frequenting the restaurant is what makes Antonio’s so special.
We took a seat at a booth in the dimly lit dining room and were surrounded by the photos of Antonio with famous faces from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. This really was THE place.
The menu has not changed and yet the food is still good. Is this the best Mexican cuisine in Los Angeles? No, I am not saying that it is. It is not cutting edge but, it is good, reliable and consistent.
As we enjoyed our freshly made guacamole, we sipped margaritas.Served in large glasses, the margaritas have been made the same way for decades. While the cocktails may not be updated, Antonio’s has an impressive selection of tequilas.
And the best touch is the live music that we enjoyed while dining. As a child, three mariachis would roam the restaurant, and perhaps they still do on the weekends. But on a quiet Tuesday night, there was a solo guitarist playing throughout our meal.
Antonio’s may not be new or the hottest place on the block, but it is a Los Angeles institution and it is the Please The Palate pick of the week. My grandparents, my parents and my brother and I have loved the restaurant for decades and now we are going to take my nephew and niece so that they can continue the tradition.
Antonio’s Mexican Restaurant
7470 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046