Review: El Cocinero Restaurant

The core of Mexican cuisine is savored through the technicalities of cooking meat, but a place in the San Fernando Valley proves it can be pleasantly replaced by plants.

El Cocinero Restaurant proclaims itself as being the first of its kind in the Valley–vegan Mexican food.

Nestled in Van Nuys, a food desert for quality vegan options, El Cocinero successfully introduces locals to healthy versions of their favorite Mexican dishes without sacrificing flavor and animals in the process–a rare quality that’s worth the trip.

The menu of El Cocinero, which translates to chef, is packed with signature plates often eaten when celebrating, such as loaded nachos and flan for dessert. Committed to the festive theme, decorative streamers called “papel picado” in the vibrant greens and reds of the Mexican flag, stretch from orange wall to orange wall.

The life of the party is the tacos. Each protein option of al pastor, asada, chicken, carnitas, chicharrón and birria, are available with or without gluten and GMOs. The rich seasoning well roasted into the essence of these plant-based alternatives replicates the taste it aims to substitute and fully subdues the craving for meat.

At the affordable price of $5, patrons can feast on two large portioned tacos that shame palm-sized overpriced tacos.

For those that enjoy a roundhouse kick of spice, the jamaica agua fresca–a hibiscus iced tea–is the superior timeout the tongue needs to buffer the oh so good burn. Somehow, one sip of jamaica is intensely refreshing; it seems to circulate through the entire body and rejuvenates the spirit, quenching a once desperate thirst. Suddenly, anything is conquerable, even El Cocinero’s habanero sauce. This tangy encounter is priced at $4.

El Cocinero Restaurant is a memorable and flavorful fiesta. So grow an appetite for plants–the new heart of Mexican cuisine.

El Cocinero Restaurant

Location: 6265 Sepulveda Blvd #12, Van Nuys, CA 91411