Chiles rellenos are my benchmark for measuring the worth of a Mexican restaurant, and El Cholo’s plump, greaseless version is among the best I’ve had this side of the border. Since the original restaurant opened as the Sonora Cafe in 1923, it has served authentic Mexican food while incorporating and sometimes creating a close relative of Tex-Mex (Cal-Mex?), with more healthful ingredients. The now-ubiquitous combination plate and the delightful mess we know as nachos originated here. Now surrounded by Koreatown, this festive pink hacienda has served generations of Angelenos since 1925. Gary Cooper and Bing Crosby were among its early regulars; Jack Nicholson still lusts after its cheese enchiladas. Though Blue corn chicken enchiladas and vegetable fajitas came into being to satisfy changing tastes, original 1923 recipes such as traditional albondigas (meatballs) and delectable green corn tamales, available only from May to October, still grace the menu. Newer branches of El Cholo are downtown, across from Staples Center (1037 S. Flower St., across from Staples Center; tel. 213/746-7750) and in Santa Monica (1025 Wilshire Blvd., at 11th St.; tel. 310/899-1106).

-Christine Delsol