Sol y Luna does Mexican right, balancing authenticity with kitsch

Sol y Luna
19601 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, Calif.

The Pitch The San Fernando Valley is only a few hours from Tijuana, which makes it a bit surprising that good Mexican food isn’t easy to find. With its golden lighting, roaming mariachi bands and a huge mural featuring Mexican icons like Pancho Villa and Frida Kahlo, Tarzana’s Sol y Luna dances on the line between authentic and kitsch, and the food delivers. The extensive menu features classics like tacos, enchiladas, queso fundido and tamales made from scratch, and the cantina doles out mean Patron-fuelled margaritas with which to toast the raucous, fiesta-like atmosphere. The resto’s cred is confirmed by the crowds jockeying for a table: With no reservation system, there’s almost always a wait.

What We Love Sol y Luna’s fish tacos put the legions of over-battered Baja-style blasphemies to shame. Tender grilled whitefish comes snugly wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla and topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and spicy guajillo sauce. Get the platter, so you can dip them in the refried beans. For the muy hungry, there’s the house special: Molcajete Sol y Luna, a heaping dish of grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, cactus, cheese and chilies, served in a traditional hot stone bowl and topped with a tiny Mexican flag.

Don’t Miss The guacamole here is legendary, and an obligatory order. Prepared at your table with fresh avocados, lime juice and a dash of dramatic flair, it’s the perfect ritual with which to kick off a feast, or indulge in the regular Happy Hour (weekdays from 3 p.m. -6 p.m.). Leftover chips can be saved for the inevitable ceviche chaser.

Entrees from $14.50

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