Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood

Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo (North Hollywood)

Friday night in the beautiful San Fernando Valley with friends
and where shall we eat?

MUCHO MAS in North Hollywood! Mexican food (“gringo style”) for dinner!

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

The neon lights welcome you! On Burbank Blvd east of Vineland, just across the border of North Hollywood and in the City of Burbank is a great Mexican restaurant, Mucho Mas.

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

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“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Dice!”

The place is a CLASSIC “gringo style” Mexican joint, with wagon wheel chandeliers and bunch of grapes lighting fixtures in addition to the neon exterior signage. Brick, plaster, wrought iron, wood and ceramic shingles with velvet paintings and “kitchy” rustic “South of the border” type decor combine to make you feel as if you’re actually in Mexico!

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The Bar at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

There’s a small bar with a dining area, an outdoor patio and an “L” shaped dining room with comfortable booths and wooden tables. The menu is traditional “gringo style” Mexican food with additional house specialties (there’s a menu page pic below).

Start with a shot of tequila or a margarita!

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Tortilla Chips & Salsa with a Shot of 1800 Tequila and a lime wedge

ON THE MENU: Fresh and warm tortilla chips & salsa, a shot of 1800 tequila and a Grande Combination: green salad with ranch dressing, 2 beef tacos, a cheese enchilada, (with an added chicken tamale) and Mexican rice & refried beans.

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in NoHo

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Menu Page from Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant – Grande Combo #16

 

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Mucho Mas Green Dinner Salad with Ranch Dressing

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Mucho Mas Grande Combo: 2 Beef Tacos & Cheese Enchilada w/Rice & Beans

You get a lot of food for $13 and the drinks are very reasonably priced! They have beer, wine, hard alcohol and cocktails on the menu and nice food and drink specials during the week and at off hours.

We’ve been coming here regularly for a while now. The food is good, the prices are very reasonable, the service is pretty good, parking is free (there’s a small parking lot and plenty of street parking), it’s not too far from my friend’s house and we never have to wait for a table. So, if you’re in NoHo and hungry and want some good “gringo style” Mexican food, I would definitely recommend trying Mucho Mas!

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Margarita on the Rocks

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Velvet Paintings! Joaquin Murrieta we think…He’s watching you!

Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant10405 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 www.muchomasrestaurant.com  818-980-0300

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

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Circus Liquor’s “Neon Clown” – Burbank Blvd & Vineland Ave in North Hollywood

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Taco Tuesday! Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Taco Tuesday! Mexican food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks.

Thinking about chips and salsa! We hit up the El Torito Mexican Restaurant at Ventura blvd and Van Nuys blvd. There’s a parking lot that’s always full, valet parking and (TIP) street parking available. If you get lucky, you’ll find a parking space in the lot. If you’re smart you’ll find street parking at a meter on Ventura blvd, Moorpark street or Van Nuys blvd.

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Mexican Food at El Torito Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Enter through the double doors and into the reception area. There’s a Taco Bar (and Lunch and Brunch) Buffet area and a hallway to the restrooms on the left. The Bar is ahead of you behind the hostess desk and the large dining room divided into three areas is to the right.

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Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is usually busy, and on Tuesdays it is really crowded because of the Taco Tuesday $1.99 Taco special (It used to be $1.00) and the Taco Bar spread which is only available in the Bar area. It’s also very loud with music and conversation, so we decided on the regular menu and a comfortable booth in a quiet corner of the center dining room.

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At the Bar at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is pretty fun if you can find a seat. They have beer, wine and spirits. Usually there’s a tequila drink (margarita) on special or it’s “happy hour” and there’s always a game on the televisions and loud music playing.

Besides the Taco special and Taco Bar Buffet, they have a Bar Menu with appetizers and small plates and you can order off the regular menu in the Bar area as well.

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Taco Tuesday! The Taco Bar Buffet at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

I haven’t tried the lunch buffet or Saturday/Sunday brunch in a long time, but it’s a pretty good value and a they have a lot of different choices available. A Mexican food buffet is always pretty good! Tacos, burrito makings, fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, rice, beans, desserts, fruit, salads, soups, salsas and more; and then breakfast foods, menudo, juices and pastries for the weekend Brunch buffets.

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Center Dining Room at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Dining Room is large and spacious, and divided into three areas. There are tables and large booths available. The menu is traditional Mexican (gringo-style) fare, but they recently upgraded the recipes and the food is very tasty and you get a lot of it!

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Mexican Food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

Drinks from the Bar and all kinds of fun cocktails are available at your table too!

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Drinks on the Menu at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

On the Menu: Chips & salsa, Fiesta platter (nachos, beef flautas, chicken wings and a cheese quesadilla), Macho Combo (chicken burrito, beef taco, tamale & chile relleño with rice, beans and sweet corn cake) and a shot of Silver tequila with lime.

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Warm Tortilla Chips & Roasted Pepper Salsa

The chips are made fresh and served warm with roasted pepper salsa. They’ll make fresh guacamole at your table if you order it. They have a good selection of appetizers, entrees and ala carte items. Not so much on dessert, only deep fried ice cream, flan and a tres leches cake. Free refills on soda and most other beverages and more chips and salsa too.

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Silver Tequila Shot with Lime(s)

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Fiesta Platter! Nachos, Beef Flautas, Chicken Wings & a Cheese Quesadilla

I recommend the Fiesta Platter to start. Eat the nachos and chicken wings, take home the quesadilla and flautas. Then order a Macho Combo (your choice of four items) with rice, beans and sweet corn cake. Eat what you can and take home the rest for tomorrow.

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Macho Combo! Beef Taco, Tamale, Chicken Burrito, Chile Relleño, Rice & Beans

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Happy Birthday! Mexican Birthday Song at El Torito Restaurant!

It wasn’t my birthday, but the waitstaff came over and sang to the table next to ours so I got a nice picture. The service was excellent! I didn’t have to look around for our waiter because he was checking in with us regularly. When I finished the coke, he was right there asking “would you like a refill?”. Every request was handle promptly and the Manager even came by to ask how everything was.

The prices are reasonable. The Buffets and Specials are a pretty good value if you’re hungry and want to eat a lot of food. Drinks are also pretty reasonable and some of the drink specials are excellent! You get a lot of food and we even got a AAA discount on the check!

It was a very good meal and a pleasant dining experience. Good food and lot of it. The service was excellent and it wasn’t too expensive. A Very Happy Taco Tuesday!

El Torito Mexican RestaurantVentura Blvd (at Van Nuys Blvd) in Sherman Oaks

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El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

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“Chef”, Sherman Oaks Galleria, ArcLight & Dinner at Versailles

“Chef” (the film) at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria and Dinner at Versailles Restaurant in Encino!

Memorial Day Monday! It’s a national holiday!

USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day! – USA! The United States of America!

I hung the American flag out front first thing in the morning, then changed my facebook cover and profile photo to reflect the patriotic nature of the holiday. I had bacon and coffee for breakfast, and then fried chicken, watermelon, strawberries, avocado, and an iced espresso for lunch. Later I munched on some popcorn and then went to the movies and saw “Chef” at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (it was very good, but don’t see it on an empty stomach). Then we went for dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino and had a great meal.

There are four parts to this Blog:

1. “Chef” (the film) starring and directed by Jon Favreau, with John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and “the kid”. Great supporting roles performed by Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlet Johansson, and Oliver Platt. There’s also a small but memorable cameo appearance by Robert Downey Jr.

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film

“Chef” – My Review of the Film: I liked it! It was a very good story, it was well written and well acted with interesting characters to care about. There was almost no CGI and no one got assaulted, murdered or blown up. It was well directed with a straightforward and low-budget “indy film” quality. It’s a feel-good, buddy movie/romance/father-son bonding story,  with (spoiler alert) a happy ending. The story was fun! It was made up of a series of both comedic and dramatic vignettes, about a middle-class, hard-working chef trying to manage both his career and his fractured family. There were several very clever creative choices both in plot and direction that explore social media (Twitter, facebook, vine, etc.) and it’s influence on our culture and society.

"Chef" the film

Exploring the Influence of Social Media and Twitter in “Chef” the film

Jon Favreau does a great job as the title character, Chef Carl Caspar, including performing difficult knife tricks and cooking tasks with practiced skill. John Leguizamo is great as his sous chef, buddy and comic relief. I’m sure sales of corn starch are going to spike. Bobby Cannavale is good as the other sous chef, playing the wasted but capable second fiddle with his usual almost over-the-top “New York theatre trained” style. Scarlet Johansson plays the restaurant’s beautiful hostess and the chef’s “friend with benefits”, and in this case the benefit is pasta! Dustin Hoffman is terrific as the intractable restaurant owner. Sofia Vergara is gorgeous and shines as the chef’s ex-wife and romantic interest, remarried and divorced from a sleaze bag investor played by Robert Downey Jr., but sharing custody and co-parenting of their adolescent son. “The kid” did good job, and I gave him a pass on the few times he was “acting” it, because he was cute and his performance was both capable and pivotal to the storyline. And a tip of the hat to Oliver Platt for his performance as the food critic Ramsey Michel. There’s a lot of music, both soundtrack and live performance, in the film. I enjoyed the ethnic Cuban beat (made me miss Tito Puente), Gary Clark Jr.’s Texas blues, working in the kitchen, cooking good food, road-trip playlist and even enjoyed the sing-along to “Sexual Healing”. From the opening cooking sequence accompanied by Aiko-Aiko I found myself tapping my feet along with the music. And of course, as a film titled “Chef” necessitates, there was a lot of cooking and good food involved, so my advice is to go see it, but don’t see it on an empty stomach, because you’ll be hungry for something good (maybe a Cubano sandwich) by the time the credits roll at the end.

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The holiday adventure began with a drive down Ventura Boulevard at 4pm. Normally on a weekday, there would be a lot of traffic. Everyone must have left town or stayed home to barbecue, because there was hardly anyone on the road.

Ventura Blvd east going to Sherman Oaks (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

No Traffic on Ventura Blvd going east to Sherman Oaks! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A short drive down the nearly deserted street brings us to the world famous SHERMAN OAKS GALLERIA (the second incarnation). Parking is available in the structure under and next to the Galleria Complex. Valet parking is located under the main mall structure and self-parking is located in the structure next to the bank, offices, restaurants and retail shopping. There is a charge for parking, but there are validations available at the theatre, the Starbuck’s, and in the restaurants. Parking in the structure can be crowded and difficult at times, so be sure to allow for traffic and a long wait to exit the parking structure and/or get your car back from the valet when there are a lot of people at the Galleria (or when all the movies let out at the same time).

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

2. The Sherman Oaks Galleria at the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards is a San Fernando Valley Landmark. Used as a filming location since it was first built in 1980, and featured in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “Commando” and many other films and television programs. The original mall was damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and then repaired, but never fully recovered. It closed in April 1999 for a major renovation and remodel. It reopened in 2002 as a mixed-use open-air center, it’s second and current incarnation, a collection of office space, retail shopping, a few familiar chain restaurants, a Starbuck’s, a Ben & Jerry’s and the ArcLight Cinemas.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – “The Wind Tunnel” Patio Area (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Water Wall in “The Wind Tunnel” (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria - P.F. Chang's Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Horse Statue (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Cheesecake Factory (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – El Torito Grill Mexican Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The walk from self-parking (once you’ve found a space) takes you past the restaurants, retail shops, patio, courtyard and fountain. Continue through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, to the rotunda and the escalator and elevator. And be sure to leave enough time for parking and the walk if you’re going to the ArcLight Cinemas!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Ride the escalator or the elevator (past the DSW Shoe Store) to the third floor and the ArcLight Cinemas lobby. There’s a fitness center and membership gym on the second floor, so just expect to see people in workout clothes anytime of day or evening and there may be a funky smell in the elevator.

NOTE: If you Valet Park, you can ride the elevator or the escalator up to the third floor without walking through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, but all you’ll see of the Galleria is the rotunda. There is an additional charge for Valet and as previously noted, you may have to wait awhile to get your car back. But on a positive note, you might meet a celebrity while you’re waiting! I said hello to Ice Cube last time I used the Valet.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – rotunda, skylight & glass elevator (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The ARCLIGHT CINEMAS in the Sherman Oaks Galleria

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

3. The ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria was originally the Pacific 16, but was rebranded, renovated and upgraded in 2007 (with further improvements made even more recently). In addition to the traditional popcorn, candy & soda concessions, there are better food items available. They have a coffee, tea and espresso bar and a gift shop that sells Hollywood “movie-related” knick-knacks and other souvenir items.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Box Office is inside the theatre, in the lobby, and you don’t need a ticket to visit the espresso bar, gift shop, concession stand, lobby exhibits or cocktail lounge.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Concessions Stand (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marvel Merchandising! Get your Spider-Man 2 lunchbox and Wolverine sippy-cup here!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 “Double espresso with whipped cream, please.”

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Coffee, Tea and Espresso Bar (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And there’s a BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE AREA with a full liquor license in one corner of the lobby! Cocktails, beer and wine are available of purchase but can only be consumed in the lounge area!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – THEY HAVE A BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They had a large promotional display for Disney’s “MALEFICENT” with Costumes & Artwork in the lobby. (see my next blog with more pictures and details)

Maleficent! Costumes at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Maleficent! Costumes & Artwork at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The film was showing in a theater adjacent to the Bar & Cocktail Lounge Area, and it was a full house for a 4:30pm showing on Memorial Day Monday.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Full House for “Chef” the film (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I wandered past the X-Men Days of Future Past lighted wall of marketing, and it was cool.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – X-Men Days of Future Past wall of marketing (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Going Down at the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria- covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Usually we like to hit the Cheesecake Factory after a film, when it’s not a total madhouse. The food is good and you get a lot of it, and the cheesecake is THE BOMB. It gets pretty slammed when the Galleria is busy and a there are good films showing, but that’s true of all the restaurants in the complex on high traffic days. I don’t care for the El Torito Grill, and P.F. Chang’s is pretty expensive for Chinese food. Fuddrucker’s is an okay burger, but it’s almost “buffet style”and there’s a FatBurger and In-N-Out not too far away if you want a real good burger. There’s a Sisley Italian Kitchen and an upscale Denny’s across the street within walking distance, or any number of good restaurants on Ventura Blvd just a short drive away. I recommend Cafe Bizou (east of Van Nuys Blvd) but you should make a reservation well in advance for dinner.

Well, after seeing “Chef”, the decision was made to have Cuban food. So, after the walk back to self-parking and a short drive back down Ventura Boulevard, we arrived at our dinner destination, VERSAILLES CUBAN FOOD RESTAURANT in Encino.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

4. Dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino

If you want Cuban food, Versailles is the place! We’ve been eating here since they opened the Encino restaurant. The original space is in West L.A. at Pico and La Cienega, and there are also Culver City and Manhattan Beach locations.

Versailles Cuban Food

Versailles Cuban Food – The Dining Room (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Encino location is a large storefront dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows tucked into the corner of a small strip mall on Ventura Boulevard. The parking lot is small, but there is always metered street parking (8am-8pm) available nearby. They have a small bar area and there’s usually a sporting event on the television. It’s pretty much “no frills”, just good food, and when the dining room is full at peak dining times, it can get very loud.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Menu (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have an extensive menu of classic Cuban food, with a wide choice of chicken, pork, beef, fish and vegetarian options.  The food is consistently excellent! We usually pick up “take out” and our regular order is the house specialty, the garlic roast chicken served with steamed rice, black beans (or moros, a combo of dirty rice and black beans), onions and plantains. The roast chicken (and also pork, beef and fish) is marinated in their special Cuban garlic-citrus-vinegar sauce, which is also sold by the bottle at the bar.

Versailles Cuban Marinade - sold by the bottle at the bar

Versailles Cuban Marinade – sold by the bottle at the bar

Start with a glass of sangria and the bread with butter and garlic, choose an appetizer, an entree and later, if you are so inclined and not too full, a dessert. The entrees are large and easily shared by two people (or more), so bring friends and order a few different things.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Sangria and a Coke (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food- Bread w/chopped garlic & melted butter (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ON THE MENU: I had the Bistec Empanizado (seasoned & breaded steak) and plantains served with steamed rice & black beans! Also had to have the bread with garlic and melted butter, a taste of pork tamale (with garlic sauce which I also drizzled on my rice), a glass of sangria, and a coke.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Pork Tamales in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado with Plantains (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado, the breaded steak (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Roast Chicken in Garlic Sauce! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I also recommend the roast pork in garlic sauce and the oxtail stew in tomato and wine sauce, which were also on the menu at our table.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Oxtail Stew in a Tomato & Wine Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The prices are very reasonable, and they have lunch and dinner “specials” with discounted prices on both food and drink items. You get a lot of good food for a decent price. The service is usually fast and efficient, but it can get a little chaotic in the dining room when the waiters are slammed or serving a couple of large parties at the same time.

We all enjoyed the food and drink, had a really good time, and when we finished the place was packed. So, if you like Cuban food, definitely try Versailles. It was a great dinner, but no one ordered a Cubano sandwich (see “Chef” the film).

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film – Russell Peters and Jon Favreau recreate a scene from “Lady & The Tramp”

Versailles Cuban Food Encino – 17410 Ventura Blvd., Encino http://www.versaillescuban.com  818-906-0756 (and 3 other locations in L.A.)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91403 (on the northwest corner of Ventura Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd) http://www.shermanoaksgalleria.com ArcLight Cinemas (same address) – https://www.arclightcinemas.com 818-501-0753 

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