Kay ‘n Dave’s
Many years back, a high school friend of mine, who had gone to college back East and then took a job in Manhattan, decided she wanted a change and ended up taking a job with a company in Los Angeles. For a few years she stayed with that company in LA before ultimately moving back to another company in Connecticut so that she could move back to her Manhattan home. While she was living in LA, she and I would get together occasionally for dinners to catch up. One such occasion, she mentioned that she had eaten at this great local Mexican cantina and wondered if I’d like to give it a try to meet her there. Always game for new places to eat, I told her I’d be there. The place we met at is called Kay ‘N Dave’s. Their food was so incredibly fresh, and vibrant and delicious. Since those many years ago, to today, I still go to Kay ‘N Dave’s when I want good homestyle Mexican food. I’ve taken many friends to Kay ‘N Dave’s and they’ve loved it. Most importantly, I’ve taken my husband there and he too loves it; that’s a good thing, or else I’d be in trouble otherwise.
Kay ‘N Dave’s actually has 3 locations on Los Angeles’ westside: Culver City, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. I’ve only ever been to the Brentwood location and I’m quite partial to that particular location. Located right at the border of Brentwood and Santa Monica, across from the very popular Brentwood Country Mart, Kay ‘N Dave’s is a very unassuming little Mexican cantina. In fact, if you didn’t know it was there, you’d probably go right past it. And that would be a shame, because they serve some of the most flavorful, down-to-earth fresh Mexican dishes I’ve ever tried. And even though the restaurant is located in a posh Brentwood neighborhood, don’t let that scare you, because there couldn’t be a restaurant in the area that’s more down to earth, homey and family friendly than Kay ‘N Dave’s. In fact, I remember the first few times I dined at Kay ‘N Dave’s their wall decorations consisted of children’s crayon drawings proudly displayed all over the walls.
Started in 1991, Kay ‘N Dave’s today serves a menu of what they call traditional Mexican food. They make all of their own corn tortillas and tamales by hand. They don’t use lard in the cooking of their food, in order to provide a healthier alternative to most Mexican food. Most of their menu items are made with the freshest of ingredients. Dave’s vision is to offer customers good food at a fair price in a friendly environment. I certainly think that Kay ‘N Dave’s provides all of that and then some.
As with every Mexican restaurant you go to, you’re greeted here with a bowl of fresh made tortilla chips and salsa. Kay ‘N Dave’s makes their own fresh salsa. The salsa here is tangy and a bit sweet, but with also a bit of a bite. You can taste the freshness in the salsa. It’s a bit chunky and a bit watery, which I like, a good mix. Something about the flavors of their salsa, combined with their thin and crunchy tortilla chips is such an addicting combination. Sometimes my husband and I have to remind each other that we came here to eat the food, not the chips and salsa!
Being the creature of habit that I am, I generally order the steak and chicken fajita combo here. A few months back, when my husband and I were eating here, and we had finished our meal, the waitress noticed, when she was busing the table, that in my fajita skillet, I had picked at all of the bell peppers and moved them to the side. She said to me, “If you don’t like bell peppers, you know that you can order your fajitas with just onions, right?” I was completely dumbfounded! I had never thought to do that because I hate having to make special orders and always figure I can just pick around the items I don’t like (in this case, bell peppers). I had also mistakenly believed that the fajitas and onions were already premixed in the kitchen and that asking for onions only would make it that much more difficult for the cook. My waitress informed me that in fact the onions and bell peppers are separate and they aren’t put together until the order is placed, therefore, if I just wanted onions I should tell them next time and this way I could get extra onions and I wouldn’t have to pick around the bell peppers. That was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard! You can bet that in the times we’ve been to Kay ‘n Dave’s since that experience I’ve always ordered my fajitas with only onions, and it’s been fantastic! Like most other Mexican restaurants, the steak and chicken come out grilled and sliced atop a bed of vegetables on a sizzling hot skillet. The meal is accompanied by a separate plate containing rice, refried beans, home-made guacamole and sour cream. And finally, the meal also comes with your choice of corn or flour tortillas, for which I always choose flour. The fajitas are just so good. The meat comes out perfectly cooked with this great char flavor to it. The vegetables are perfectly seasoned and the beans and rice are a nice accompaniment. I just can’t go wrong with fajitas, and they give you so much that there’s always leftovers for the following day!
My husband, also a creature of habit, always orders a 3-item combo. While he may mix up some of the combo items, he must always have a chile relleno, which he loves so much! On this particular visit, he ordered the cheese enchilada, chile relleno and beef taco. He likes Kay ‘n Dave’s beef tacos because they make their own home-made hard taco shells, fill their tacos with some amazing shredded beef, and top it all off with home-made guacamole and some cojita cheese. And for him, the cheese enchilada could never be a mistake. Enchilada filled with ooey, gooey cheese topped with red sauce and then more melted cheese, it’s cheese heaven for someone like my husband. And of course the chile relleno is the creme de la creme for my husband. A nice, large poblano pepper, Anaheim pepper or pasilla green chile stuffed to the brim with melted monterey jack cheese, then dipped in an egg batter and deep-fried to a golden brown deliciousness. Top it off with some red sauce and serve it to my husband and he’s in love. Like me, my husband loves the fresh quality of Kay ‘n Dave’s food. It’s almost like you can taste the fresh ingredients, the quality of them, and the love and passion that their made with.
This little cantina is truly a hidden gem in the Los Angeles food scene. I love the fact that they serve unique, fresh, homestyle Mexican food in a warm, inviting and comfortable setting. This place is as good for takeout when you’re on the run as it is for a casual night out with friends. The next time you’re nearby the Brentwood Country Mart, and you’re looking for something fun, different and has good food, don’t forget to look for Kay ‘N Dave’s, I promise you won’t be disappointed.