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True, Southern California is full of Mexican restaurants, but when Alberto and Carmen Denenberg moved their family from Buenos Aires to Huntington Beach they desired to establish a new food culture: Gourmet Mexican, a fusion born from their Argentine blood and their adopted home in Surf City. Using their experience in various ethnic restaurants, Las Barcas opened in 1987 and was named after the fleets of sailboats that cruise off the shores of Huntington Beach. As the original chefs, they cultivated recipes that emphasized their passion for fresh, unfettered food. By listening to their customers and to their own fine tastes, they created their legendary menu, from perfectly seasoned carnitas to monstrous 1 lb burritos.

 

This love of great food was a family tradition, which Alberto and Carmen shared with their three children. After school, Steve, Jaqui, and Briant, worked with their parents, taking orders and serving customers. It is a tradition that continues today, as Briant calls out orders while Alberto supervises a line of chefs. Still in its landmark original location—though much larger now—the Denenbergs have developed a cult following. Daily they welcome friends and extended familia, who sail in from all over the world, drawn to Las Barcas for its taste of “Year-Round Summer.”

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