Show 373, May 16, 2020: Restaurateur Christy Vega, Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks

Christy Vega of Casa VegaThe enduring Casa Vega is a landmark Mexican restaurant that has been operating in the San Fernando Valley for almost 64 years. It’s located on the familiar Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks and is one of the longest running, continuously family-owned restaurants in greater Los Angeles. Rafael “Ray” Vega opened Casa Vega in 1956 after being inspired by the success of his parents’ earlier restaurant, Café Caliente, which was on Olvera St. and operated throughout the 1930’s. Casa Vega has recently reopened for take-out via advance order online or by telephone.

Casa Vega is now open from 12 Noon – 8 p.m. daily. Initially, guests can order directly by phone (818-788-4868) or online via the Casa Vega website. Guests can pick up from their cars – Casa Vega staff will place orders in the trunk or backseat as they wait in the restaurant’s driveway off Ventura Blvd.

Favorites on the take-out menu include Combination Plates and Street Tacos, both served with rice and beans, Taquitos de Juan (chicken flautas), Burritos, four different Family Trays, Chips, Guacamole, Salsa, Kids Meals, and more. In addition to beer and wine, Casa Vega offers its Classic Margarita in a single serving mason jar with ice, ready to drink for $7. Other margarita variations are available for $7-9. The Classic Margarita is also available in a half gallon size for $30.

“Over the years, Casa Vega has remained, at its core, much the same as my father’s original vision,” says Christy Vega. “The menu continues to reflect the offerings originally presented some 64 years ago with slight alterations that speak to today’s culinary tastes. From the menu, to the dim ambiance of the dining room, to the staff—many of which have been with our team for decades—Casa Vega is a testament to my father and the wonderful history he has created. I look forward to continuing to uphold his legacy of service, authentic traditions, and most of all, the love and adoration that emanates throughout every corner of the restaurant and inspires our clients to return time and time again.

Proprietress Christy Vega pours the Classic Margaritas for us.

Show 27, May 4, 2013: Gustavo Arellano, Editor of OC Weekly and creator of the syndicated and wildly popular, “Ask a Mexican” column

Gustavo Arellano of Ask a MexicanGustavo’s latest book, Taco USA – How Mexican Food Conquered America is now in paperback.

First Gustavo discussed the history of Cinco de Mayo and the fact that it’s a pretty minor holiday in Mexico. The large beer distribution entities in the United States have created (with great marketing) a festive holiday around the day in the States. It’s all a great excuse to increase beer sales!

Then it was on to the history of the taco. In Mexico references to “tacos” date to the 1880s. In the US the name first appeared about 1915.

In Mexico the hard shell taco originated in Central Mexico. The soft shell variation wasn’t popularized in homes until the 1960s.

Whether the shell was made of flour or corn depended on the region. In Northern Mexico, for instance, it was typically made with a flour tortilla.

Burritos were always made with flour tortillas.

The breakfast taco first became popular in Texas.

Gustavo is not a fan of the tacos served at Taco Bell but thinks the breakfast tacos at Del Taco are “not bad.”