Quantcast

Closing Time: Barragan’s restaurant serving up bad news for Echo Park customers

As  long-time customers of Barragan’s restaurant have called to book their holiday banquets for December,  many have received a surprising response from owner Armando Barragan: “We are probably not going to be here.”

After decades of serving countless Combination #1 platters (beef taco and a cheese enchilada)  and pitchers of margaritas, the Barragan family will be closing the Echo Park Mexican restaurant by mid-December after agreeing to sell the Sunset Boulevard property. Barragan, whose family will keep its Burbank and Glendale restaurants open, said he is not sure what kind of restaurant the new owners will open in the 300-seat Echo Park space.  But it will not likely be serving the familiar Mexican-American staples his family has dished out for more than 52 years, he said.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” said  Barragan, 58, who has worked his entire adult life at the Echo Park restaurant founded by his father, Ramon. “I will miss my customers. I will miss my employees. This is like my home.”

Barragan said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from identifying the buyer of the Echo Park restaurant in the 1500 block of Sunset Boulevard and the parking lot across the street. He said he will try to relocate some of the Echo Park restaurant’s 35 employees to the Burbank and Glendale locations.

A variety of factors prompted Barragan to put the restaurant up for sale.  Competition from new downtown restaurants has taken a toll on Barragan’s  important lunchtime business while taco trucks have picked off budget-minded customers.  That has made it increasingly tough to fill the rambling 300-seat restaurant, which requires at least a staff of 12 to keep it open at any one time, Barragan said.

Renovating the 7,000-square-foot building or carving it up into a smaller, more economically-viable spaces would have been a costly endeavor that Barragan did not want to take on. So, instead he decided to find a buyer for the orange and white building.

Barragan’s father,  Ramon, now 83, opened up the restaurant in 1961 after working as a cook two blocks away. In his new restaurant, Ramon worked the kitchen while his wife, Grace, worked as waitress in the 25-seat dining room.  But Barragan’s expanded over the years into a rambling complex that include six neighboring storefronts with 300 seats, two bars, a banquet room and patio.

Barragan’s enjoyed its best years  during the late 1970s and 1980s as the mainstream embraced  Mexican food and  customers lined up to get in, said Armando Barragan. The restaurant was a favorite with local politicians and its customers have included several mayors, governors and Dodgers owners.

Fans of the Echo Park restaurant will still be able to enjoy the same meals, said Armando Barragan, but “they will have to drive a little bit further.”



Eastsider Advertising

59 comments

  1. Always sad to see a local business go, especially one with long held roots in the community. But at least they’ve got the other two locations to fall back on. Also, I don’t recall really enjoying the food here… That said, I’ll definitely make an attempt to drop in for one last Margarita Wednesday.

    • While I will not welcome another Senor Fish or other chain type restaurant in this space, I frankly will not miss the food one bit. Nostalgia is not a reason for anything. Arf.

    • Agreed. I’m sad to see the business go, but the food was never very good :/

    • It is really important as a restaurateur to keep your menu updated and fresh constantly introducing new things to your customers. Looking at the decor and menu of this place, it seems the bloom fell off the rose some time ago. Hopefully we get something interesting in that space…

  2. The chicken tacos with guacamole are the best. I’ll miss this place.

  3. We had Barragans and BBQ King cater our wedding in 2005. Now they are both going to be gone. Change is so hard sometimes. We will miss you so much dear restaurant.

  4. What’s really sad about this news is that Barragan’s is one of the few spots in Echo Park where the transplants, hipsters and old school locals intermingle in a very comfortable and familial way. You may not like the food, but the vibe of the staff and regular patrons is always friendly and welcoming. I’m a fairly new resident of the area and this is the first ‘gentrification’ I’m unhappy about. That’s assuming the restaurant will be replaced by something more expensive and less ‘down home’ that caters to one group over the other.

    • It’s not clear it’s “gentrification”. The article mentions economic competition from taco trucks, among other things. Barragan’s wasn’t exactly cheap compared to alternatives like Guisados and food trucks.

      • Guisados? Really? I spent $12 there on some small bullshit overrated tacos.

        • Barrigans was pretty cheap. I used to go for Happy Hour and some days margaritas were only $2 with a free nacho buffet and some of the most delicious chips and salsa I’ve ever had, endlessly for free. I spent a lot of time there, ate and drank a lot, watched football, for almost nothing. I will miss them so much. 🙁 I moved out of the area last year but tried to go there a couple weeks ago and found out they’ve closed. So sad. :((((

  5. Wow, but at the same time is not a surprise, we have been customers for years at Barragan’s Restaurant, but no wonder I ordered a cocido two days ago, not only was given the wrong order and price but the cocido was not the same, tasted like hot water. Probably the new owners are already in charge or they are not making the way it supposed to be, since they are leaving and they don’t care anymore. Sorry but is the true.

  6. This spot will definitely be missed. Their morning breakfast specials (chilaquiles!!!) and mole enchiladas were the best. For a native Mexican, it was great having an authentic Mexican restaurant just down the street. I’ll be making a few visits before it closes.

  7. Food wasn’t all that anyway.

  8. The Food Here Was Nothing To Write Home About Hopefully Some Trendy Place Will Come In Or Tear The Whole Building Put Something Contemporary For The New Yuppies In The Neighborhood More Gentrification YEAH !!!

  9. I have to second (or third, or fifth) the comments about the food; I never found the food particularly tasty, and their margaritas weren’t that special, either. Barragan’s has an unusual layout, too; most of the booths are completely separate from the bar, so it feels awkward to walk into the bar to check out the scene after eating dinner.

  10. I grew up on the Westside but my dad would haul me across town to brunch at Barragans for these epic 4 or 5 hour Latino politician layovers where they would discuss lawsuits to force redistricting, labor politics, who is up for what seat next and hold fund raisers for each other. I was always pretty damn bored during the whole thing, but the place has a spot in my heart because of the time I spent with my pops there.

    Echo Park was a very different place back then – way more MacArthur Park than modern day Silver Lake. Colored tortilla chips were a novelty then – now they kind of gross me out.

    I wish all the best for the family and their staff.

  11. Boo! This was my go to place for hangover menudo after a night of drinking.

  12. When we moved to Echo Park 21 years ago, Barragan’s was one of the few places within easy walking distance to enjoy a sit-down meal, but it’s been pretty empty the last few times we’ve been there, so the news isn’t a complete surprise. Thanks for the food, the margaritas, and the memories.

  13. LOL. I love it when people wax nostalgic about subpar places. Food was horrible (even for a dive), waitstaff spotty and indignant, drinks water downed.The kitchen, if you ever had the misfortune of ever getting a glimpse, would make Gordon Ramsey have a coronary. Yet inexplicably they felt they could charge the same prices as Alston Yacht Club.
    If the owner was so sad to see it go then maybe he should have put more love into it (or at least picked up a vacuum)instead of seeing how long one can cynically cash in on being an Echo Park ‘institution’. Looking for a finger to point for gentrification? Maybe you should start with him first.

  14. Sad to see another icon leaving our beloved neighborhood. 52 years is a long time to be around. Just a reminder for all you Mexican food fans, Casita del Campo Restaurant has been in Silverlake since 1962, open 7 days a week, 363 days a year, and we’re hoping to be in Silverlake for at least another 50 years!

  15. This place died years ago; the smell of Lysol and dust is all that’s left. Barragan’s food wouldn’t cut it on taco Tuesday at an elementary school in Toledo. I wish Guisados would move in and pick up the liquor license.

  16. My wife, Carol Jacques, and I are DEEPLY saddened to hear of the upcoming closure of Barragan’s in Echo Park. We’ve been enjoying both the food and the ambiance of Barragan’s for years. My wife, a native of nearby Chavez Ravine (BEFORE the Dodgers arrived), remembers when the restaurant opened and has been eating there for as long as the restaurant has been open.

    I strongly disagree with the several negative comments regarding the food. In more than thirty years of dining at Barragan’s, I cannot recall eating any food that, to me at least, tasted anything less than very good. The Spanish Omelets were mouth-watering; the tostadas really refreshed you on a hot day, the shrimp and eggs were memorable, and the flan was absolutely the best in town.

    Plus, the owner (Armando Barragan) was deeply involved in community affairs. For years, he has served on the board of directors of the nearby El Centro del Pueblo, on the corner of Sunset and Lemoyne. El Centro is a widely-respected, comprehensive social services agency and Armando has served several terms as its Chairman of the Board.

    The closure of Barragan’s will leave a hole in my stomach…..but also a pang in my heart.

    • I agree with you! I’ve been going to Barrigans for 30+ years. This past year I spent a lot of time there. I loved the atmosphere and the food. It was so cozy, the wait staff so friendly, and the food was delicious. The chips and salsa were some of the best I’ve ever had. The place was always packed. I don’t understand why they’re going out of business. All I can guess is they must have gotten an offer they can’t refuse for the property. Its prime real estate. The price of gentrification. I will miss them so much in the neighborhood. 🙁

  17. Yeah, the food is so bad, the place has been an Echo Park icon for 53 years. Mexican restaurants don’t last for 53 years in very Hispanic areas if their food is average. Burbank and Glendale’s “average” food will probably live on for another 100 years. You’re kidding, right? Barragan’s has the best hard shell tacos and cheese enchiladas I’ve ever had.

    • This comment doesn’t make any sense. The other Barragans is IN Burbank. What does that mean?
      It’s either an “average” food restaurant, hence why it will stay open for “another 100 years” in Burbank?
      OR It’s garbage and that’s why it can’t compete in Echo Park?

      The place sucks, both in Burbank and Echo Park. Over priced and below average flavor.

    • I think there were dishes that were above average, like the seafood quesadilla. And the hard-shell tacos were good.

      Trouble is, Barragan is a delusional if he thinks I’m going to follow him to Glendale or Burbank. Walking around Echo Park–or meeting friends at Barragan’s before a Dodger game–was half the fun.

  18. The article lists a number of reasons for the restaurant’s pending closure, none of which is that it sucks. I argue it didn’t and doesn’t suck as it is a Mexican restaurant in a heavily Mexican and Mexican-American area and if it sucked it wouldn’t still be standing after 53 years. I also argue that its restaurants in Burbank and Glendale will likely stand as long as the family wants them to and, if they also close, it won’t be due to bad food. I also argue that it is the same food because it is the same family who owns the restaurants, using the same recipes, and maybe even sharing the same chefs from time to time. You, of course, are entitled to your opinion that the place sucks and I agree with you that it has become overpriced.

    • No, the critics are correct…the food genuinely sucked. I’m sure it was great once-upon-a-time-back-in-the-day, but they clearly gave up on quality a long time ago. Kudos to the owners for their longtime community involvement and all everything, of course…but none of that makes the food taste decent.

      I don’t think we need to feel too badly for the family, either. They still have two other restaurants, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much money they got for SIX storefronts worth of space (plus the lot across the street!) in THE primo section of Sunset Blvd. in EP. It’s no wonder there’s a confidentiality agreement.

  19. Barragan’s, you will be missed! Lots of good memories. Good luck to the family business.

  20. Myself , longtime resident and frequent diner at barragans called it quits two years ago when making my way from the dining room to the bar almost tripped over a rat the size of a kitten….sorry….times have changed and barragans was happy just to hang on…goodnight and goodbye

  21. Sad to hear about this. So many times we had reunion meetings and our pre-reunion Ice-breaker there. the food was always good. Sometimes one has to move on.. Best wished for continued success mi Amigo!! 🙂

  22. Sandra Figueroa Villa

    Been in Echo Park for over 40 years. The Barragan family always stepped up to help out the community with their generosity. Armando Barragan made it a point to get involved in his community, whether it was with the local Lions, as President of the Chamber, or President of the Board of El Centro del Pueblo. His involvement was always a family affair including his wife Rosie.

    He has donated food to community clean ups, political campaigns, meetings and homeless outreach.

    The Barragan family rarely took vacations. I for one am happy for the family.

    As he transitions out and new business comes in, we can only hope they and other new businesses in Echo Park consider being as generous. Or at least get involved and give back to this community. Echo Park thrives on community involvement.

    Good luck and enjoy your retirement Familia Barragan!

  23. Good grief. I am literally the kiss of death. After going to this Barragan’s for the first time a couple weekends ago and then stopping by Villainy General Store for the first time on our way back to the car, both have now announced this week that they are closing.

    I need to stay in more.

  24. I’m really sorry to see Barragan’s leave Echo Park. It is a great place and the food doesn’t suck it’s just old fashioned. I always get a veggie tostada with guacamole and a margarita, never let me down. First it was the Other Side, now El Conquistador and Barragan’s. The east side is really losing some of its charm, for sure.

  25. Will….please stay far, far away from guisados….

  26. Such terrible news! I’ve been going to Barragans since I was in diapers. Always got Sergio as a server, but the entire staff was welcoming and warm! Delicious beans, familiar environment, good prices- What more could you want?

    I can imagine the 300 seats became harder and harder to fill, as more options came into the neighborhood- but still! EP has changed so much in the last decade, some for the good & some for the bad (commercial, bland, cookie-cutter.) This change is definitely for the bad.

    All I can hope is that the new restaurant understands the important of that which it is replacing and is capable of replacing this community anchor.

    • You’ve been going there since you were in diapers, I wished I had a diaper last time I ate there… Delicious beans?

  27. Please no more restaurant that only cater to the invaders .

    • You sound like one of those bigots from the 50’s when a Latino or black moved into the neighborhood.
      Time to join modern times and leave the bigotry behind.
      You’ll be happier.
      I promise.

      • … and YOU sound like one of those white people who think that “reverse racism” is really a thing.

        There’s a huge difference between passing laws and instituting racist business practices to prevent POC from moving into the neighborhood and resisting the violence that is gentrification.

        More “invaders” translates to higher rents, increased police violence against POC, and the death of culture. Read a book.

        • are you trying to say that only white people can be racist? heads up man: everyone is involved in that shit storm.

          • Anyone can be prejudiced or carry racist sentiment. But only those that are in power can practice racism or any ism. Saying I don’t like Chinese people would be prejudiced or even ethnocentric. But to create laws to exclude Chinese people to do this or that would be ethnocentricity in motion which would be ethnocentrism. But still you’d have to hold power to be able to put those laws in action.

          • bullshit. racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

        • Don’t be a knob.
          “reverse racism”? Racism is racism no matter which way it’s directed. And of course, racism is not relegated to any one ethnicity. After reading whatever book you’re reading, try using your brain.

          Additionally, gentrification is also not relegated to any particular ethnicity. Do you have a problem when the gentrifiers, themselves, are POC? Gentrification is a class thing, not a race thing.

          • Tony the Spoon Varela

            Who’s racist in NELA? I say tolerance prevails in these parts no matter the level of resentment: if you live here you have crossed the threshold of the multicultural LA county line. Now lets go play a game of pool at the Little Joy before the sun goes down, it’s free.

        • Beverly D'Angeleno

          Frank, I know Lee Garcia and he is a racist and grumpy old white man of western european descent who anachronistically still maintains that POC are “invaders” in his neighborhood. I can’t understand why you of all people would defend his attitude.

    • exactly on point-the heart and soul of echo park has been stolen-time and tiime again-the occupations persist!

  28. Bears cutting and pasting, my feelings exactly:

    “…Plus, the owner (Armando Barragan) was deeply involved in community affairs. For years, he has served on the board of directors of the nearby El Centro del Pueblo, on the corner of Sunset and Lemoyne. El Centro is a widely-respected, comprehensive social services agency and Armando has served several terms as its Chairman of the Board…”.

    “…Been in Echo Park for over 40 years. The Barragan family always stepped up to help out the community with their generosity. Armando Barragan made it a point to get involved in his community, whether it was with the local Lions, as President of the Chamber, or President of the Board of El Centro del Pueblo. His involvement was always a family affair including his wife Rosie.

    He has donated food to community clean ups, political campaigns, meetings and homeless outreach.

    The Barragan family rarely took vacations. I for one am happy for the family.

    As he transitions out and new business comes in, we can only hope they and other new businesses in Echo Park consider being as generous. Or at least get involved and give back to this community. Echo Park thrives on community involvement.

    Good luck and enjoy your retirement Familia Barragan!..”.

    You newcomers to LA and EP and other gritty, fascinating urban zones of Los Angeles — are you going home for the holidays, to NYC, Phoenix, K.C.? While there check to see if a longtime restaurant you grew up with, a hardware store, shoe shop, or bakery has since closed.

    In its place is a nail salon. See how you like it.

  29. Used to love this place, food was really good, but for the past 10 or so years, the food went downhill.

  30. The total gentrification of EP is nearly complete. Thank you former councilman Garcetti

  31. The food is really bad, as are the margaritas.

  32. There is no question, Armando has been active in the community first with the Chamber of Commerce many years ago and later with Centro del Pueblo, but I believe his time has come, this is his opportunity and he is a business man, like did Leonard Leum with Pioneer Market.
    Beside the food has been in decadent for the last years. sadly to recognize this but is the true.

  33. Tony the Spoon Varela

    $3.00 Tecates, huge pitchers of brewskis, friendly smoking patio, and DJs are spinning 8′ vinyl upstairs tonight at Barragans, I’m going to get me a few beers, complementary nachos, and dance with the neighborhood patrons, young and old. All of us locals and current Dodger Stadium employees love to meet up at Barragans after a Sunday day game and celebrate our experiences. Like the food or not, there have been some great memories made between Echo Park Ave. and La Veta Terrace. All of you haters can always go up the block to Compadres Restaurant for this type of menu (and more expensive) if you are seeking to lambast old school family owned business but we appreciators are going to ride this wave until its gone.

  34. They are going to build an IRISH PUB …

  35. I will miss Barragan’s. Been going there for over 20 years. My ex when he was an active alcoholic found it a safe place to drink. My current and I enjoy the booths, the food the drink. Good luck to the family and staff. I will miss you all.

  36. Thank you, I had the best times there for happy hours and met a lot of ladies there….Thank you.
    Blessing to you, now if you want to continue, get a taco truck. and park near one of those overly rated downtown restaurants. I just had a drink at a fancy pace and they were $14 bucks each! This is an outrage, all you restaurant owners SUCK! Big Time PIGS, I don;t wish any success at all. And the Hotels the same. All Landlords raising rents suck!

    You will all suffer soon. What goes aloud will come around. The other Retardant is also closeting on Sunset Blvd. El Conquistador! Sad, Landlord raised rent again, you will all suffer soon. You are PIGS! .

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *

*