Chicken Mole – Casa Vega, Studio City CA
I’ve had chicken mole at many places, and Case Vega makes a pretty darn good mole. The rice & beans topped with cheese is pretty standard; tastes like most any Mexican restaurant’s rice and beans. Well, the beans are above average, actually. But the mole, one of Casa Vega’s house specialities, is pretty wicked. It’s a well-balanced mole, imbued with smoke and chocolate and it swarms in your mouth with heat, smoke, meatiness, and sweet.
The Spot: Casa Vega, Studio City CA
If you can deal with the boisterous, noisy, margarita-dosed crowds and mediocre service at best, Casa Vega can be a fun place to hang with friends. (Really, the service needs a new manager to train the whole staff…it’s just too slow.) It’s generally better (safer) to drink there than to eat, but some dishes (like the chicken mole) are worth the poor service. For Mexican fare, especially in a city with great Mexican food like Los Angeles, Casa Vega is pricey and not your best value. But Casa Vega is about fun; it’s an old-school restaurant. Launched in 1958, its walls are peppered with dark Mexican-themed paintings that are nearly 40 years old. I don’t think it’s changed much since its opening, so that’s what you’re paying for. There’s not much old-school respect in L.A. so you can find more quirky places like this in the Valley. Margaritas are pretty great, as is the people-watching. There are always odd celebrities in the joint, and a curious cross-section of Angelenos.
The Grade: Very Good, maybe Great (depending on margarita intake)
The Damage: ? expensive.
The Skinny: Casa Vega, 13301 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (818) 788-4868
Hours: Mon – Sun, 11:30 am to 2:00 am
No reservations! (That means go early or drink often whilst you wait)