After working for Acapulco Restaurant in Pasadena for 20 years, Erasmo Delgado was ready to go out on his own. So he purchased La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant y Cantina — a Pasadena favorite since 1974 — from its owners in 1990. Two years later, Delgado opened a second location, La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant in South Pasadena.
“I’ve worked in the restaurant business for a long time,” Delgado told the Review. “After I went independent after Acapulco, I’ve worked for myself ever since. When I bought La Fiesta Grande, I updated the menu with original recipes that I grew up with back in Mexico. We also upgraded the restaurant to more of a family-style place, where customers can enjoy good food in a nice atmosphere at a modest price. People feel comfortable and secure when they are here.”
Delgado’s daughter, Camerina Carrillo, started working at her father’s restaurant when she was in high school, and is now the manager. Her husband David works as a chef, while her mother and Delgado’s wife of 50 years, Catalina, co-owns the restaurant and also helps run the business, making La Fiesta Grande truly a family affair.
“I still like to wait tables here because I enjoy talking to the customers and I’m very hands-on,” Carrillo said. “Most of our employees have worked here for a long time and our regular customers know their servers by name, which creates a family atmosphere. We have a deep connection to the community and we do a lot with the schools, (the) South Pasadena Education Foundation and Chamber of Commerce.”
The menu at La Fiesta Grande (which means “grand party” in Spanish) features a wide array of Mexican dishes, including enchiladas, burritos, tacos and fajitas. The restaurant is known for its carnitas, carne asada, chile relleno and mole — a traditional sauce used in Mexican cuisine. Many of the recipes on the menu were inspired by dishes Delgado grew up with back in Nayarit, the coastal region of Jalisco in Mexico just north of Puerto Vallarta. Other items on the menu feature his own creative take on Mexican dishes.
“Our taco bar has become very popular,” Delgado said. “It’s a big tray with different fillings to make tacos, including meat, cheese, salad, guacamole, pico de gallo, rice and beans. We make our food fresh every day.”
In 2015, Delgado closed the original establishment in the Playhouse District, and in the coming months, his South Pasadena location will be relocating due to the Mission Bell Project, a mixed-used development project that will replace his current restaurant and several neighboring businesses with residential units, a parking garage and retail storefronts along Mission Street.
“A lot of our customers are really sad that we’re leaving the area,” Carrillo said. “We’re looking at other spots in nearby to relocate our restaurant to. There are several places that we’re interested in, but we haven’t locked anything down yet. We probably won’t stay in South Pasadena because there is a very limited amount of inventory here, but we plan to stay as close to Pasadena and this area as possible, both for our customers and ourselves.”
Added Delgado, “We want our customers to stay tuned and check in with us these coming months when we announce our new location. We plan to continue this family dynasty.”
La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant is located at 1107 Mission St. in South Pasadena. It is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call (626) 441-6217 or visit www.lafiestagranderestaurant.com.
La Fiesta Grande Mexican Restaurant Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 1.17.2020. Support Local Business.