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“Surprising find”
Review of Lares

Lares
Ranked #77 of 682 Restaurants in Santa Monica
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
vancouver
Level Contributor
21 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Surprising find”
Reviewed April 20, 2012

With a night off from a business trip in Santa Monica we ran across this old-world Mexican Restaurant. The exterior looks a little worn and ordinary from the street, and the interior decor a little on the heavy wood side but the food and the service made for a welcome respite from the day. There's the standard Cal-Mex fare one the menu but the better bets seem to be the specialty dishes. Our server recommended the ceviche (the fish, not the camarones) appetizer and it was a great choice. The Shrimps a la Valenciana were nicely done as were the Chiles Rellenos. And the whole evening at around $20 per person including beers. No noisy band during the mid-week when we went there.

  • Visited April 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank watermaa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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146 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    68
    52
    16
    5
    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
77 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Nice homey Mexican, good value”
Reviewed April 11, 2012

Lares is a small place, a bit out of the way. The interior is designed to look and feel authentic--rustic wood furniture, beamed ceiling, tile floor--puts you in the mood. Service was quick and friendly--whether it is or not, it feels like a family-run place. The food was good---I had a beef filet in "special sauce" that was tasty and nicely cooked (medium rare, though no one asked), but not unusual (that special sauce was pretty ordinary, sort of a cooked salsa, but good). All the food tasted a little fresher than what I usually find in Mexican restaurants--I don't think Sysco does any of the food prep here, and that helps. I came from out of town, but it was obvious that the place is locally popular and has lots of loyal customers, many of whom headed straight for the upstairs room which I didn't see, The only drawback for me was that Lares is loud, with singers, TV, large groups, and all the noise reverberating off the tile, so I wouldn't recommend it for a quiet dinner. But it's a good find at a good price, and two notches above your basic Mexican restaurant.

  • Visited March 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank hillretiree
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
center of the world
Level Contributor
26 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Great atmosphere, service and food”
Reviewed March 14, 2012

Participating in a dine-out program takes us to lots of new restaurants, and this one was a real winner. Beginning with easy evening street-side free parking (or $3 valet at the door) this busy place has friendly and efficient service, and a good menu - traditional with special shrimp dishes and other Southern Mexico specialities. My margarita was delicious and one was more than enough. Although we cringed when we chose to eat upstairs and discovered the 2-man mariachi they were not too loud and we enjoyed their music (we could continue to converse). We enjoyed our visit and will return.

  • Visited March 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank EuroYankStar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Guayaquil
Level Contributor
69 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Picturesque”
Reviewed March 12, 2012

As soon as we arrived we had nachos with a great salsa, The main dishes we ordered were tasty and not spicy.

The place was cozy, lights were dimmed, the furniture was old mexican style, very rustic, which were uncomfortable for me.

The walls are decorated with paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo, they have areas were the paint looks like it needs urgent repaint, guess that had be done on purpose to give the place a realistic mexican atmosphere.

The service was quick and the waiter was polite,but we had to wait for the bill which wasnt as cheap as i thought,. Food was ok but i dont think i wouldnt ask my friend to take me there again, as a different experience, it was ok.

  • Visited January 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Starseedancer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
149 reviews
67 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“perfect place”
Reviewed February 20, 2012

Everything comes together here. Upscale hacienda style interiors make you feel like you are in a movie, while the wait-staff gives the impression that the owner recruited a dozen of his uncles to help him take care of the customers. The nachos are so good that you will think you've never had nachos before this. The fajitas are great and if you are not sure what you want, they will volunteer to create a new combination just for you. This place would be wonderful for almost any purpose - business lunch, date, office party or in our case, just one last nice California experience before heading back to the East Coast. But this one is on my list for future visits.
But a note to the owners: PLEASE create a margarita menu. Not all of us are familiar with two dozen brands of tequila and the one the waiter recommended was not to our taste.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank checkpointcheryl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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