You have to drive 20 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles to get to Gloria’s, but really you would think you’re some where in a Latin American country once you’re off the freeway, but really you are only in Huntington Park, CA. In all of my years growing up and living in Los Angeles, I have never had a more culturally diverse, yet authentic Mexican dinner. I would say skip anything in-between and go to Gloria’s, as owner San Juan says, “No Passports required”.
From a very young age, Juan Sanjuan III, head chef and president, learned that Gloria’s Restaurant was truly an extension of their family and roots in Mascota, Mexico. He grew up hearing the stories about his grandfather, who was the town blacksmith in Mascota, making “pico de gallo” on Sundays. They would all gather around, tell stories, share the food, and toast with tequila. As a child, he recalls his father taking him and his sisters to eat at a local fast food restaurant, where they weren’t allowed to order individual meals. Instead, they would get the food and put it all in the middle for them to enjoy. “In this family, we share our food. Food was meant to be enjoyed with those you love and to create an experience of sharing,” his father said. San Juan III started as a dishwasher at Gloria’s, his Dad was the cook, and his Mom was a waitress.
The ambiance has a very family traditional Mexican vibe. With all of the nuances you would expect and then some unexpected ones. There are traveling mariachi singers that go from table to table, that are really good. There is an element of danger there as well with street vendors coming in for a minute and walking around from table to table to try to sell you something. But don’t let that fool you, lots of tables jam packed with families enjoying their dinner out. It has been this way at Gloria’s for the last 33 years.
The “experience of sharing” can be seen on every table! From the table top grills (parrilladas) piled high with meats and seafood, to the molcajetes filled with savory meat simmering in its juices, to the buckets of “gallitos”. There is a very festive atmosphere at Gloria’s,
truly one of the hidden treasures you search for in Los Angeles.
Here’s what I tried:
Mango, Regular, and Peach, and Mango Chamoy Margarita, cazadores, blancl, mango puree, agave nectar lime juice, chanoy and tangin rim. They are all amazing; each one with its own individual twist, my favorite was the peach. It has a very well balanced peach flavor that is not too sweet, just the perfect refreshment. They have a lot more flavors but these were the ones I tried.
Guacamole, great flavor, not sure what made this guacamole so special, but it is.
Pico De Gallo, very fresh and fragrant, it will add a nice zing to your chips.
Botanas and Antojitos, Fuente De Mariscos,½ doz. De camarones, 1 doz. De ostiones y 1 fuente de ceviche. ½ doz shrimp, 1 doz. Oysters and Fish ceviche. This is a huge platter filled with succulent oysters, shrimp and ceviche, just what the doctor ordered.
Botana De Taquitos, Res o pollo con guacamole, frijoles y crema. Chicken, with guacamole, beans and sour cream. I love taquitos and these hit the spot.
Special Taco, off the menu, al gobernadora camarones, governor’s tacos, chipotle chesses. Delicious robust flavors, a very unique taco.
Special white fish and shrimp ceviche (not on the menu). Creamy goodness, a wonderful ceviche.
Parrilladas; Mixta, Combinacion de Gloria’s y Veracruzana con frijoles churros y arroz blanco. Combo of Gloria’s & Veracruzana with white rice & charro beans. Beans – charros, bacon, chorizo, slow cooked. This is quite the show. Piled very high, all of the ingredients are done to perfection, kind of fajita style, it is still sizzling at your table.
All of the, recipes are from San Juans grandmother, Florencia from Mascota, Jalisco Mexico. One day the chef just up and quit and they had to depend on their family recipes from their grandmother. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The interiors are all Mexican themed, with striped banquets, paver tiles, Mexican Flags, lots of stained glass, glass block walls, an overhead string of white hanging lights, and a very festive bar.
Michael Juarez, the marketing guy knew the family that is how he got the job. Their customers are, families, locals, and people enjoying a great happy hour. Most waitresses have been there for 24 years and more, my waitress Zaida has been a loyal employee for 19 years. Customers come once and always come back for more.
“Food is not just nourishment for the body, it’s nourishment for the soul.” – Chef Juan Sanjuan III.
Gloria’s Restaurant & Bar offers traditional Mexican cuisine and live Mariachi shows featuring Mariachi Tierra Querida. Hours of operation: Sunday through Thursday, 8am to 12am, Friday and Saturday 8am to 2am. Mariachi Tierra Querida live performances Thursday through Sunday beginning at 8pm.
Gloria’s Restaurant & Bar
7823 Pacific Blvd.
Huntington Park, CA 90255
* Note some content was taken off of their promotional material.