Juan Elenes hails from Sinaloa, Mexico. He came to Temecula by way of Baldwin Park and joined La Cocina a few weeks after they opened their doors. He says it was like going from night to day. The way he looks at it, he doesn’t have any “customers.” He sure has a lot of friends, though. Everyone who enters La Cocina’s doors gets treated the same, regardless of what you wear or what your nationality is. “We treat people like friends, not like numbers.”
When we visited last week, Juan graciously welcomed us and invited us to sit down, have a margarita and some food. He is exceptional at making you feel at home in his restaurant, and he makes sure his entire staff carries out that attitude. We talked while enjoying a delicious margarita and an oh-so-tasty Garlic Lime Chicken Salad. The décor is beautiful, with unusual touches throughout. The furniture is extremely comfy.
If you visit La Cocina’s kitchen, you won’t find a single can of food – everything is made fresh from scratch. The Mariachi appetizer plate offers a bit of everything: taquitos, chicken, guacamole and quesadillas. The Enchilada Vallarta is a shrimp enchilada in béchamel sauce. Making everything from scratch costs a bit more, but the difference in flavor is enormous.
La Cocina offers several enticements to get you to come visit. There are lunch specials every day from 11:00 to 3:00. Free appetizers are offered during the Monday Night Football game and happy hour lasts all night. Come for $1 tacos and $3.50 margaritas on Taco Tuesday. Sunday Brunch runs from 9:00 – 2:00 featuring a 72-foot buffet. Tortillas are handmade on the spot. You’ll find rice and beans, of course, but also sweetbreads, carne asada, carnitas, chile rellenos, enchiladas and more. Items change weekly, so you’re likely to find chile Colorado, chile verde, ceviche, pozole or menudo from time to time.
La Cocina is located at 32459 Temecula Parkway, Temecula, CA 92592. (951) 302-6233.