El Coyote is a famous Mexican restaurant located in Los Angeles, California. It has been serving customers since 1931 and is known for its classic Mexican fare like tacos, enchiladas, and margaritas. But what exactly makes El Coyote so famous? Here are some quick answers:
– It has been in business for over 90 years, making it one of the oldest restaurants in LA.
– It was frequented by many Old Hollywood stars back in the day like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Howard Hughes.
– It claims to have invented the first frozen margarita machine.
– Its decor has stayed virtually unchanged since the 1930s, making dining there feel like a blast from the past.
– It’s remained family owned and operated by the same family all these years.
– It serves large portions of delicious, authentic Mexican food at reasonable prices.
– Its lively ambiance creates a fun and memorable dining experience.
Clearly, El Coyote has cemented itself as a historic LA legend over its many decades in business. But how exactly did this restaurant get its start and become such an iconic establishment? Let’s explore its famous history and heritage.
El Coyote first opened its doors in 1931 and was founded by a Mexican immigrant named Blanche March. She came to LA in the 1920s to pursue a career in acting and later met her husband George. The two recognized the need for an authentic Mexican restaurant in the area and opened El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard.
At the time, Mexican food was not common or well-known in the US. Most “Mexican” restaurants back then served Americanized versions of dishes like tacos and enchiladas. But Blanche and George created a menu of authentic recipes from their Mexican heritage. This novel concept helped El Coyote stand out.
The restaurant was first located in a small 20-table space. It had a lively and festive interior featuring traditional Mexican decor. From the start, Blanche marketed El Coyote as a romantic space with exotic appeal. Her efforts to promote authentic Mexican ambiance and cuisine were revolutionary for the time.
Despite the Great Depression, El Coyote flourished in LA throughout the 1930s. Blanche was an avid networker and formed friendships with celebrities and movie industry insiders. Word spread about this charming new Mexican restaurant, and it quickly became popular with Old Hollywood stars. Big names like Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, and Shirley Temple were regulars.
The restaurant’s reputation for delicious food in a lively atmosphere grew. El Coyote even started serving its customers late into the night to accommodate film industry folks working long hours. The late-night scene added to the restaurant’s buzz and allure.
By the mid-1940s, El Coyote’s clientele had expanded to include diverse groups of Angelenos. Its blend of authentic food, reasonable prices, and fun ambiance made it a hotspot for people from all walks of life. The restaurant became a beloved LA institution.
Part of what makes El Coyote such a legend is its continuity in management and ownership by one family. Founder Blanche March successfully ran the restaurant for over 30 years until her death in 1968. Her son Albert took over the business next. He shared his mother’s passion and expanded the restaurant over time.
In 1984, Albert turned El Coyote over to his daughter Barbara Smith and her husband John. Barbara had grown up in the restaurant and was very involved there from a young age. She was committed to preserving El Coyote’s legacy.
When John passed away, Barbara’s daughter Jennifer took on a leadership role too. She had also practically grown up at El Coyote and wanted to maintain its heritage. These three generations of family ownership have allowed El Coyote to retain its original charm and character for over 90 years.
The restaurant moved to its current larger location on Beverly Boulevard in 1951. But the family has carefully replicated the original 1930s decor. They have also kept beloved menu items and recipes largely unchanged. Each generation passes on a sense of devotion to El Coyote’s storied history.
Throughout its nine decades in business, El Coyote has continued to attract scores of famous patrons. In the 1940s and 50s, big names like Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean dined there regularly. Management proudly displays autographed photos from these legendary guests.
As newer celebrities emerged in Hollywood over the decades, they also made El Coyote a regular haunt. You can still see signed headshots lining the walls from stars like Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson, and Jennifer Aniston. More recent celebs like Ryan Gosling and Halle Berry have been photographed dining at this iconic spot.
What draws so many stars to El Coyote year after year? No doubt the delicious food, festive vibe, and sense of Old Hollywood nostalgia provide a welcoming atmosphere for famous regulars and visitors alike. El Coyote maintains its reputation as a go-to celebrity hotspot in LA.
Of course, the food itself is a huge part of what makes El Coyote so famous. The restaurant takes great pride in serving high-quality, authentic Mexican cuisine based on family recipes. Many menu items span back to the original 1930s offerings.
Some customer favorites include:
Tacos and Enchiladas
Diners can choose from a variety of meat fillings like al pastor, carnitas, chorizo, carne asada, and chicken. El Coyote is known for its creamy red and green enchilada sauces slathered over cheese-filled tortillas.
These allow customers to sample different items like tamales, tostadas, chile rellenos and more all on one plate. The huge portions make these combos ideal for sharing.
Mexican and Seafood Specialties
Favorites include the Steak Pancho with grilled carne asada and El Coyote’s Quesadilla Special with chicken or beef. On Fridays, they serve delicious shrimp enchiladas, fish tacos, and other seafood specials.
El Coyote claims to have invented the first frozen margarita machine back in the 50s. Customers rave about its fresh lime margaritas made the traditional way. Unique spins like mango, strawberry, and pomegranate margaritas are also popular.
Homemade Salsa and Guacamole
Using original recipes, El Coyote makes its own tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole daily from scratch. Customers love the fresh flavors.
Over the decades, the Smith family hasfine-tuned the recipes and added new menu items. But they have taken care to retain the original essence of each dish first created by founder Blanche March in the 1930s. This continuity in the food is a key part of El Coyote’s lasting appeal.
In addition to its famous food and celebrity fans, another factor in El Coyote’s popularity is its fun, lively atmosphere. The restaurant strives to make every visitor feel like a Hollywood VIP.
The decor transports diners back to the 1930s era when El Coyote first opened. The interior remains remarkably preserved with original furnishings like chandeliers and stained glass. Vibrant painted murals celebrate Mexican culture and Old Hollywood glamour.
Servers wear festive Mexican dresses, and strolling mariachi bands serenade guests during weekend dinners. Piñatas hang above the tables for a whimsical touch. And the bar shakes up those famous frozen margaritas to get the fiesta going.
The overall vibe is permanently set to “party” with a dash of retro charm. Guests chatter and laugh gleefully while enjoying the delicious food and drinks. Both regulars and tourists find the atmosphere addictively joyful and one-of-a-kind. It’s no surprise many first-time visitors quickly become loyal regulars.
Impact on the Community
Beyond just serving good food to customers, El Coyote has had a significant positive impact on its surrounding LA community over the decades.
For starters, the restaurant has provided steady jobs and workplace community to generations of Angelenos. Many servers, chefs, and managers have worked loyally at El Coyote for years. Staff describe it as an accepting, family-oriented work environment.
Outside its walls, El Coyote gives back to various local charities and causes. The Smith family regularly donates food and raises funds for organizations supporting kids, people experiencing homelessness, and the arts. During the pandemic, they gave tacos to frontline workers too.
The restaurant also supports local businesses by sourcing many ingredients from the neighborhood. Plus El Coyote has boosted the notoriety of LA’s Mexican food scene since the 1930s. Its fame and appeal brings significant tourism dollars to the city.
For locals, El Coyote serves as a beloved community gathering place. Angelenos have celebrated life milestones like birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries there for decades. Groups continue to bond over tasty meals in the welcoming atmosphere.
Overall, El Coyote has demonstrated a stalwart commitment to supporting its diverse LA community throughout its nine-decade tenure.
Why People Love It
When considering all of the elements that make El Coyote famous, it essentially comes down to tradition, character, and heart. Food fads may come and go, but this iconic eatery remains constant in all the best ways.
Patrons keep returning because of the consistent quality of the comforting food based on decades-old family recipes. They come to soak in the lively ambiance that transports them to a glamorous time gone by. And the friendly staff make everyone feel like a regular.
There is an intangible, feel-good factor to dining at this LA legend. It provides an experience that can’t be replicated by newer trendy restaurants. El Coyote continues thriving today by sticking to its roots and giving guests a taste of nostalgia with each visit.
For these reasons, El Coyote holds a special place in the hearts of Hollywood stars, tourists, and native Angelenos alike. It has earned its reputation as one of the most famous and iconic restaurants in LA history.
El Coyote stands out as a legendary LA establishment due to its delicious authentic Mexican cuisine, longstanding multi-generational family ownership, retention of original ambiance and recipes, celebrity patronage dating back to Old Hollywood, lively festive atmosphere, commitment to its LA community, and signature hospitality.
For over 90 years across three generations of owners, it has maintained traditions and character while also evolving. This rare consistency and longevity explain why El Coyote remains a relevant and iconic restaurant today. Its welcoming vibe and connection to LA history keep devoted patrons coming back year after year.
Certainly El Coyote has secured its fame and popularity through providing an outstanding, one-of-a-kind dining experience that encapsulates the nostalgia, culture, and community of Los Angeles. With its commitment to honoring its heritage into the future, this beloved Mexican eatery will surely continue to thrive for many decades to come.