A South of the Border Treat at Pepe’s

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Menus and chips and salsa are waiting for guests at Pepe’s.


This week continues our series spotlighting hometown favorite restaurants adapting to the new normal life of COVID-19. Pepe’s has been a community staple since 1970, first operating in La Cañada and now in Montrose. With a legacy stretching back 50 years, it’s no wonder that the restaurant has been a favorite of the Crescenta Valley for generations. Recently, a resident came in for a bite and brought an old coupon that she had found. It was expired, but worth the ask to see if it would be honored. It offered a half price special and was valid from May to July … of 1986. Of course the restaurant honored the coupon because that’s just the kind of place Pepe’s is.

This is a family restaurant, not only in that it welcomes families with kids but also everyone who walks in becomes like family. Generations of diners have made Pepe’s their choice for dinner and generations of employees have made Pepe’s their career … for life. Owner Ruby Bugarin has known one server since she was 15 and attended her quinceañera before she started working at Pepe’s at 16. Manager Angel Bourciaga has been with the restaurant for 38 years, beginning at sister restaurant Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant in Pasadena and then continuing with Pepe’s in La Cañada and Montrose. Bourciaga has enjoyed working at Pepe’s so much that he recommended it to his family, and now he works alongside his daughter and granddaughter in the restaurant. This is a family restaurant in more ways than one, and it’s something that is seldom seen in restaurants in LA.

Sizzling fajitas are a favorites of diners.

The classic, time-tested recipes have been largely unchanged in the last 50 years and have been delighting crowds from the start. And now, in the COVID-19 world, al fresco dining complements these dishes and margaritas well. The friendly atmosphere of always seeing someone you know at Pepe’s is enhanced by the open-air thoroughfare that connects the new parklet dining area and the front door seating at the restaurant. Couple that with a fresh blended margarita, some sizzling fajitas and a cool end-of-summer evening, and it’s a recipe for a great time.

Come by to see the new outdoor seating area and stop in for some classic Mexican dishes that feel like home. Pepe’s is located at 2272 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, and they will honor their 1980s coupons from their former La Cañada address too.