Mexican family restaurant where everyone knows your name

Acorn Epicurean



Named after the family that has owned and operated it since 1999, Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant and Take Out offers fresh, homemade fare in Camarillo, Santa Barbara and Montecito.

Tony Arroyo said he came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 13 years old and worked his way up the restaurant ladder, from cleaning windows and prepping to owning three establishments.

“I always had two or three jobs and went to school, and now after 31 years, the Los Arroyos restaurants have 110 employees; 45 of them have been working for me for more than 10 years,” said Arroyo, adding that many employees are family members and others are friends who have been working for him for so long that they feel like family.

Many customers are also like family members, he said, as they’ve been frequenting the first restaurant since it opened in Santa Barbara in 1999.

“I like seeing the families,” said Arroyo, adding that he and his staff know many of them by name.

The owner is also proud to support the communities his restaurants are in. For example, he recently provided 300 breakfast burritos for the local YMCA.

But it’s the homemade, fresh food that keeps customers coming back time and time again, no matter which of the three restaurants they go to.

“We make fresh salsa from scratch two times a day and make rice fresh every half-hour,” Arroyo said. And the ever-popular tamales are made fresh every Wednesday and Friday.

“Show up on these days and you’ll have the best tamales ever,” he said.

In Ventura County, Los Arroyos is at 630 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 1217 in The Promenade at the Camarillo Outlets. Shoppers drop by for a meal break, and customers come from everywhere for the burrito mojado.

Stuffed with chicken or steak and black beans, this popular wet burrito is topped with melted cheese and salsa roja, and makes a hearty meal as it’s served with rice, guacamole and sour cream.

Another customer favorite— molcajete—is offered on the special menu, which is changed every three months, Arroyo said.

Named for the bowl it’s served in (a molcajete is a mortar for grinding corn), molcajete is a sizzling dish made with chorizo, grilled chicken or steak with melted cheese and onions. With a side of homemade flour or corn tortillas, this is a hearty meal that will appeal to the whole family. And the beauty of the bowls is they stay hot for a long time, therefore the food inside does the same.

There’s plenty on the Los Arroyos menu to delight all taste buds, including nachos, quesadilla and ceviche tostada appetizers, a variety of fresh salads, and create-your-own combinations served with rice and black beans or Caesar salad.

There’s also a number of burrito dishes, with fillings such as fresh fish and shrimp, shredded beef or chicken, and marinated pork in salsa verde. Vegetarians will delight in selections like the garden burrito or chile relleno. There’s even a fresh scrambled egg version with cheese, red potatoes, beans, sour cream and guacamole.

I had the pleasure of trying the chimichanga—my absolute fave and definitely the non-diet version, which is deep-fried and filled with shredded beef, chicken or carnitas, black beans and cheese served with rice, guacamole and sour cream. It was incredibly tasty and so hearty that there were plenty of leftovers.

Another delightful surprise were the refreshing, homemade Mexican beverages— aguas frescas—like the sweet tamarindo, made fresh from the pulp of the tamarind, and the sweet-tasting rice-cinnamon water called horchata, perfect for cooling the mouth after spicy dishes. My favorite was the delicately light hibiscus-based Jamaica, which Arroyo said his grandmother drank every morning.

Arroyo uses fresh, local ingredients, authentic Mexican products like the mole from Puebla City, and only certified Angus beef, black pork and free-range chicken.

The community-minded owner offers regular discounts in Camarillo to police and fire department personnel, the military and veterans as well as to seniors. Throughout January at the Camarillo restaurant, diners can buy one dinner entree and get one free.

Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant and Take Out is open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and daily for lunch and dinner. The restaurant also offers catering, takeout and options for special events.

For more information, visit or call (805) 987-4000 in Camarillo, (805) 962-5541 in Santa Barbara or (805) 969-9059 in Montecito.

FRIENDLY FOLKS—Above, restaurant owner Tony Arroyo, left, with Camarillo manager Marlon Berganza. Below, an ensalada with chicken dish—a salad that makes for a hearty meal in a bowl.

FRIENDLY FOLKS—Above, restaurant owner Tony Arroyo, left, with Camarillo manager Marlon Berganza. Below, an ensalada with chicken dish—a salad that makes for a hearty meal in a bowl.

Courtesy of Los Arroyos

Courtesy of Los Arroyos

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