Hidden in an inauspicious little shopping center on Santa Monica and Gower is Zermeño’s Restaurant. There’s no way to see if it’s any good by driving by, or even by walking by. You have to go in. But once through the door, you realize something’s going on here.
They’re making fresh tortillas on the patio, and behind the counter are over a dozen steam dishes holding everything from chicharrones to carne asada to carnitas to a cold display with various ceviches of crab, shrimp, mixed fish, etc.
They have a handful of specials, and a deep menu of 84 different dishes ranging from breakfast burritos to an impressive-looking molcajete for two. They have all the standards, and go deeper with soups, grilled chicken, whole fish, machaca and birria (goat). There are 8-10 different meats to choose from. There's also a self-serve salsa bar with a nice variety.
The tacos are street-sized, and the carnitas taco was piled high with meat, onion and cilantro. The meat had a nice crust, while remaining moist and porky. It was very flavorful and next time I’m going to get the 3-taco combo.
They had a memela (Mexican pizza) special, and we got one with carne asada. This was also a treat, with refried beans, meat, guacamole, cheese and cilantro. The masa crust was freshly made and much easier to eat than a sope or a huarache. This was also a very good dish.
I ordered suadero (brisket) as the meat in the wet burrito. It was long-roasted, with a rich beefy flavor, and you get chunks of it instead of slices, which really allows the flavor to come out. It tastes like the kind Grandma used to spend the whole afternoon making. The burrito is basically meat in a tortilla. On top of the burrito were both red and green sauce and cheese was melted over that. It was served with rice and beans (which were creamy and delicious) and tortilla chips. This is a lot of food, but somehow I finished it, which speaks to the quality.
Horchata was freshly prepared and quite refreshing, more so than any I’ve had recently. And the mixed fruit agua fresca was enjoyed by wife. The mixture made it interesting. There are about six different fresh drinks to choose from, plus the normal sodas, etc.
This was an unexpectedly delicious lunch; and given the broad menu offerings, for sure I’ll be back...maybe next time for the chorizo and egg breakfast.
6115 Santa Monica Boulevard
South East Hollywood