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By Victor Buell
Despite the closure of two Acapulco restaurants in Pasadena and Monrovia, hungry chow-hounds looking for a Mexican food fix can still get a giant burrito, a stuffed soft taco, or a cheesy enchilada just around the corner at Arcadia’s Original Peppers Mexican Grill and Cantina. This family-owned and family-oriented grill is nestled in its tree-lined grounds as if it grew there organically. Inside you will find a spacious and sprawling dining area and comfortable sports bar where you can slide into a booth and enjoy items from the full menu. The menu is lengthy, and the portions are very large, so expect to leave stuffed or with a to-go box.
Located across from gates 5 and 6 at the Santa Anita racetrack at 181 Colorado Place, Arcadia, Peppers has been serving the area for almost 40 years
Chef Amador Cortez, has been running the kitchen for over 30 years, and many of the staff has been employed at Peppers for a decade or more. The only newbies to be found are the owners, who took over in 2011 and are smart enough to know not to alter a thing about this time-established location. “People keep saying ‘I know you changed something,’ but we haven’t-except for the tortilla chips which are lighter and crispier.” So insists co-owner Virginia Disegna, “everything else is exactly how it’s been. Our regulars have been coming here for years, many ordering the same items for years, and we want to make sure they stay happy.”
I went over the menu for ten minutes before settling on a combo chicken and steak fajita platter. It was massive, served sizzling with peppers and onions and mushrooms, a side of grilled poblano peppers, rice, beans, homemade guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and three kinds of salsa (by the way, the house salsa is excellent-just saying). The dish was very fresh and flavorful, and I ended up taking so much of it home it took me two tries to finish it off. I brought a cheese quesadilla back to the office for Terry, who raved as well, and was surprised to get rice, beans, and salsa included.
There is something for everyone on the big menu, including a full seafood section, two-dozen house specialties, appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, steaks, ribs, and of course burritos, tacos, tamales, enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas and chimichangas-available with almost any combination of fillings.
Happy hour starts every weekday at 3pm til 6pm, and Peppers boasts the best margaritas in town. I’ll go back to confirm that another day, but after everything I have seen I think it’s probably accurate. Also consider “Taco Tuesdays” where for $5 you get two street tacos and a domestic beer all day long.
For our readers who were saddened by the closures of the local Acapulco, or anyone else out there looking for a satisfying Mexican meal, Peppers will take great care of you. Just be forewarned-you might still be eating there for the next 30 years.