I knew the minute I looked at the menu at the Border Grill that I was in trouble; I wanted to eat everything on it. Then I actually began eating and I knew I was really in trouble.
The soft crab tacos were made with fresh crab meat, fresh guacamole, tomatoes, onions and lettuce and they tasted just like the tropics. With a little of the smoky chipotle salsa drizzled on top I could have eaten them forever. But there were also good chips and good beans and great tamales made with fresh corn to begin with, and fine grilled meat and fish to follow up. Even the side dishes--steamed chayote, chiliquiles, sauteed peppers--were out of the ordinary.
The Border Grill is unlike any other Mexican restaurant in town. The former City Cafe may have a new coat of paint, a new wine and beer license and a new orientation, but Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Millikin are still in the kitchen and they are cooking with gas. Open only a couple of weeks, this stylish storefront is already packed, and it looks like all the people who keep asking when Los Angeles is going to get a great Mexican restaurant may finally have an answer.
Border Grill, 7407 1/2 Melrose Ave., 658-7495. (Prices are on the high side: main courses $6-$14.)