There are a number of Mexican restaurants that we go to and like, but they're generally chain restaurants - Chevy's, Acapulco's, El Torito. Not that there's a problem with chain restaurants since when you find one you like, you can generally (though not always) be assured that you're going to get the same quality at other restaurants in the same chain. However, chain restaurants don't necessarily have the same flair as independent restaurants, and they don't necessarily have the same authenticity when it comes to ethnic food.
The sign for Villa Tepeya can be seen from the 10 freeway, and after driving past it a number of times, we had decided to stop in and try it. It can be a little difficult to find since it's in between two off-ramps, and you have to do a little side driving to get to it. There's a decent-sized parking lot right outside the restaurant, but that can get full since the restaurant has an adjacent party/banquet facility, so there's also another parking lot across the street that we've had to park at on occasion.
The restaurant itself has never been particularly full, but then, it's pretty large, with three main rooms. It means we've never had to wait for more than 5 minutes for a table. The host/hostess staff is very friendly, and the wait staff is friendly and helpful. I can't think of a time when we've had a bad experience there.
There's Mexican music playing in the restaurant, and it's generally not too loud in there, unless there's a large table or something. In one of the rooms, they have television sets up, so it's nice if there's a game on that you want to watch. I love the decor of the restaurant, where the walls are painted to have windows that look "outside" to nice views.
Once you're seated, your drink order is taken and complimentary chips and salsa are brought to the table. While I generally really like the pico-de-gallo quality of most salsas that you get, the salsa here is more just the sauce itself, and I really like that too. It used to be a lot spicier, to the point where I couldn't have very much of it, but in recent years, I've noticed they've toned it down some, so you can taste the great flavor of the salsa but still have some kick.
Most of the entrees come with a side of vegetable soup or salad. I absolutely love the soup there. The vegetable soup comes loaded with chunks of vegetables (carrots, zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, and usually even a small piece of corn on the cob), and the broth is just delicious. I haven't done it yet, but I've figured that if I'm sick, that would be a good place to go to just get a nice big bowl of vegetable soup.
Since we've been going for a while, a few of the servers recognize us, and on one occasion, I wanted to try something different, so I asked our server for her recommendation between two items. She said that she didn't like chicken, so she wouldn't choose the chicken dish, but she explained the two dishes to me. I then chose the steak picado (tender pieces of beef prepared with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes), which was delicious. I've also tried what is basically the chicken version of the dish - arroz con pollo (tender pieces of chicken prepared with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes on rice) - and that was equally good.
They also have various combination plates that are always pretty good, and I've also come to like their chicken flautas plate, which I had last night. The husband is generally quite fond of their chile colorado.
One other thing to note - if you ask for flour tortillas, it comes as one gigantic tortilla, about the size you'd need to make your own burrito. You basically have to rip pieces off, but be careful - it's usually quite hot.
They're generally very good about keeping your glasses filled and taking away dishes once you're done with them. The servers are also generally around a lot, so if you need something, it's easy to get their attention.
They also offer a good selection of cocktails, and while I like margaritas, theirs are quite strong, stronger than I prefer, so I don't get margaritas there anymore.
This restaurant can probably be regarded as one of those hole-in-the-wall great finds, and I highly recommend it.
2200 East Garvey Avenue, South
West Covina, CA 91790