Pico Rivera restaurant back on top of voters’ menu

http://www.presstelegram.com/2009/11/20/pico-rivera-restaurant-back-on-top-of-voters-menu/

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PICO RIVERA – After falling from the top spot last year, Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria, 6702 Rosemead Blvd., is again No. 1 in the appetites of Los Angeles area diners.

The family owned restaurant was named the “Best Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles” in a viewer-voting contest called MyFox L.A.’s Hot List featured on the local Fox Network affiliate KTTV (Channel 11).

“I guess our patrons voted more often this year,” said restaurant chef and co-owner Marco Zapien, 43.

The contest rates hundreds of businesses in different categories.

Winners receive spots on television and can use the honor on advertisements and business cards.

Zapien’s, which won the award in 2007, finished in second place last year.

“It’s great to be named No. 1 again,” said Zapien, whose business partner in the 15-year-old restaurant is his father, Jess, 70.

“It’s quite something to be named the best Mexican restaurant, especially considering how many there are in the Los Angeles area,” he said.

Marco Zapien, who was born and raised in Pico Rivera, was inspired to become a professional chef by watching his dad, mom and grandmother cook when he was a child.

“Those were the best dishes,” he said.

After graduating from the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Zapien has been head chef at Edison International Field, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Dodger Stadium, Staples Center and other sports and entertainment venues.

He likes serving fresh creative dishes in the city where he grew up and still resides.

“People I grew up with and have known all my life are some of our most loyal customers,” Zapien said.

Assistant restaurant manager Martin Mundo, 25, calls Zapiens’ Salsa Grill a “neighborhood restaurant.”

“Our customers like the comfortable atmosphere and our homemade recipes,” he said. “Everything is fresh daily.”

Tom Neal, 43, of Orange County, said the fresh ingredients in the “great authentic” meals has kept him coming back the past three years.

“The menu has a lot of variety, and you can tell the effort they take in preparing their dishes,” he said. “It’s all delicious.”

sandra.molina@sgvn.com

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