Tia Juana to close
Tia Juana, which has been in business since 1976, closes the doors of its Olympic Boulevard location this weekend. The last of 31 years of handmade tortillas will be patted out there Sunday.
When the restaurant opened (under its original name, La Choza), Olympic between Barrington Avenue and Bundy Drive was an obscure industrial neighborhood. Owner Enrique Haro remembers there was so little traffic at night that if they saw headlights, they could assume the driver was a customer. La Choza's first Times review recommended it as a good place to stop on your way back from a drive up the coast -- that's how remote West Olympic seemed in those far-off days.
The neighborhood grew rapidly, and Haro upgraded La Choza, replacing the name (which means "the shack") with the grander-sounding Tia Juana and adding calamari and other dishes to a menu known for carne asada, pork mole and nopalito salad. Today the Olympic Boulevard property is about to be developed for larger businesses, hence the closure.
Members of the Haro family own a number of restaurants around town, including Casablanca and La Cabana in Venice. Enrique Haro -- and his mother, who has been the cook throughout the history of La Choza/Tia Juana -- are relocating to Huntington Beach, where they have revived the La Choza name, complete with the Tia Juana menu and handmade tortillas.
Tia Juana, until Sunday, 11785 W. Olympic Blvd., (310) 473-9293. New location: 7402 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-7888.
-- Charles Perry