BEFORE IT WAS SALAZAR, FROGTOWN’S WHITE-HOT MEXICAN RESTAURANT, IT WAS SALAZAR MAZDA SPECIALIST. WHEN IT CLOSED, THIS AUTO-REPAIR SHOP – LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF FLETCHER DRIVE AND RIPPLE STREET FOR 40 YEARS – PROPRIETOR ANTONIO SALAZAR SIMPLY LET THE NEW OWNERS KEEP HIS NAME.
But just about everything else changed. The repair garage was transformed into Salazar’s spacious kitchen and bar, while what had once been an asphalt parking lot became a sprawling outdoor dining area populated by shade-throwing trees, native cacti and dozens of tables. “I’ve lived in LA most of my life and have always been confounded by the absence of proper outdoor places to eat and drink,” says Salazar’s founder and owner William Silverman. “After spending a long time looking all over the city for the perfect space, we concluded it didn’t exist and we’d have to make ours more or less from scratch.”
This made-from-scratch ethos extends to Salazar’s menu, which deals largely in foods from the Mexicali region of Sonora. Think handmade flour tortillas, wood-grilled meat, fish and Salazar’s bestselling, mouthwatering carne asada tacos. At the bar, patrons line up for Mexican coffee, micheladas, myriad cervezas and aguas frescas that, naturally, are available virgin or spiked.
With three years under its belt, Salazar is now a go-to for residents of Frogtown, Silver Lake, Echo Park and points beyond. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, the place fills up with local families, dogs included, in the early evenings, before drawing a hip after-dark crowd that wouldn’t look out of place in the VIP area at Coachella. While the city of LA prohibits live music at Salazar, the restaurant satisfies its musically oriented clientele with food and drinks before sending them down to the street to Zebulon. Meanwhile, Salazar regulars who work in the music business have assembled all of the restaurant’s genre-spanning playlists. “You’ll rarely hear the same thing twice,” says Silverman, “except Biz Markie, which we seem to play a lot. We try to cover everything you’d want to hear while eating and drinking outdoors on a pleasant LA afternoon.”