Papa Juan’s Baja Grill to Take On Panorama City

Starting with the former site of a Panorama City auto body shop, Caesar Garcia hopes to expand his family restaurant into a franchise
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The son of a Baja California fisherman took his father’s recipes to the street in a food truck, then to a San Fernando storefront; now, owner Cesar Garcia is opening the second Papa Juan’s Baja Grill location in Panorama City.

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“These are family recipes passed on from my father—[the restaurant is] named after [him],” Garcia told What Now Los Angeles. “He would fish for the family and cook whatever he caught for the whole family—he learned how to make fish tacos, ceviche, grilled fish, grilled octopus, and he passed that all on to us.”

The second iteration of Papa Juan’s is slated for the site of a former autobody shop at at 13755 Roscoe Blvd., down the street from Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center. After a complete tear-down of the previous structure, preliminary construction has begun at the site, according to general contractor Reuben Cedillo. Complete with subterranean parking and outfitted for dine-in, take out and delivery, the restaurant is scheduled to open its doors in six months.

“Right now there’s just a bunch of fast-food restaurants [in the area],” said Cedillo. “Now, there will be an alternative for the doctors and the nurses.” 

The taco joint’s flagship location opened in 2015 at 227 N Maclay Blvd. in San Fernando, across the street from Hanzo Sushi, also owned by Garcia, at 137 N Maclay Blvd. Previously, Garcia operated out of a food truck in Sylmar, and earned acclaim at Granada Hill’s weekly food truck event.

“We put our family recipes onto the food truck and introduced them to the public—they loved it, and we got the brick-and-mortar,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that his Baja-style battered fish tacos are the most-ordered item at Papa Juan’s, and that, like everything else on the menu, its sauce is made from scratch—”nothing is bought.”

Ultimately, Garcia aims to spread his father’s recipes even further across the state.

“We want to open as many as we can—I’m shooting for at least ten, he said. “We have a couple of people in line, but we have to open the first one first and take it from there.”

Christina Coulter

Christina Coulter

Christina Coulter is an eager journalist from Connecticut with dogged tenacity and the sensibilities of a small-town reporter. Before and after graduating from Marist College in 2017, Christina covered local news for a slew of publications in the Northeast, including The Wilton Bulletin, the Millbrook Independent, The Kingston Times, The New Paltz Times and the Rockland Times. For nearly four years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina was the lead reporter for The Saugerties Times, living and breathing the goings-on of the 20,000-strong Hudson Valley community. Christina weathered the pandemic in Atlanta, where she got a taste for the city's people and flavors. After a brief stint covering news in Connecticut and New York once more with The Daily Voice, Christina was taken on by What Now Atlanta and What Now Los Angeles, where she aims to unweave the intricacies of both cities' bright restaurant communities.
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