Pico Rivera restaurant boasts five years as best in L.A.

Gallery: Zapien’s Salsa Grill named Best Mexican Restaurant

PICO RIVERA – Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria is on a championship run that any sports team would be proud to own.

The Mexican restaurant, located at 6704 Rosemead Blvd., has once again been named the best in Los Angeles County.

More than 28,000 votes were received to determine this year’s winners in LA HotList.

About 6,600 businesses compete to win the title of Los Angeles’ best. The contest rates hundreds of businesses in different categories.

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

“I’m not surprised Zapien’s won again,” said regular diner Willie Bunton of La Habra as he enjoyed lunch with his employees Tuesday. “It’s the closest you can get to home cooking at a restaurant.”

“It’s great authentic Mexican food,” said Maggie Tamayo, of Downey.

“I bring people visiting from the home office in St. Louis here,” Jerry Lujan said.

These endorsements is what Pico Rivera native Marco Zapien had in mind when he opened the restaurant with his dad, Jess, 19 years ago.

“We have a great following, and get a lot of support from our customers,” said Zapien.

“It feels like coming home when you eat here,” said longtime customer Priscilla Martus, of Pico Rivera. “Their food is great and the service is very friendly,” she explained.

Zapien uses his family’s old recipe, along with a light, modern twist to those traditional Latino dishes.

That means having traditional enchiladas and burritos on the menu, along with grilled chicken cilantro salad.

As the corporate chef for Melissa’s World Variety Produce, 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.

Still, his heart is with his hometown.

For the second year in a row, he is offering a special holiday deal to those who bring in new and unwrapped toys to Salsa Grill.

Through Dec. 20, any child age 12 and under who brings in an unwrapped toy will eat for free.

Each adult with an unwrapped toy will receive 50 percent off of his or her meal.

The toys will be donated to Saint Hilary Church of Perpetual Adoration and St. Marianna de Paredes Catholic Church for distribution to struggling families.