After a monster walk all over Silver Lake, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Malo, a "taqueria chicana" that opened a few months ago in our hood. I've read mixed reviews about the place, but I've come to the conclusion that the people who didn't like Malo didn't like it because it doesn't serve "traditional" Mexican cuisine. The food is pan-American, with a gourmet twist--which is exactly the kind of food I've been searching for. But wait, before we get into the food, we've got to talk tequila. Malo specializes in tequila and boasts a tequila menu featuring about 70 varieties and ranging in price between a $6 shot of Sauza to a $55 shot of "Seleccion Suprema." After consulting with our helpful and enthusiastic waiter, we chose El Tesoro Reposado for our $8 margaritas--the best margaritas we have ever had. Really, I'm not sure how they made them, but my margarita tasted so fresh and complex, so amazingly good. I followed my margarita up with a truly amazing mojito. They've got several other interesting drink specials on the menu including a Mexican cosmo and horchata with Ciclone.
Malo is split into 2 wings--the bar wing & the restaurant wing. They've also got a dining patio, which is too rare in LA. There's a jukebox in the bar with a great selection of music from Brian Eno to the Shins. In the dining room they played loud rocking music which mixed great with our drinks. We went at about 7pm on a Wednesday night, and the scene was pretty much dead, but supposedly it's got a happening singles scene on the weekends.
OK, the food: everything at Malo comes a la carte, meaning no complimentary chips & salsa, no rice & beans with your meal--it's all extra. This seems like a bummer at first, but it's actually great b/c they've got a wide selection of unusual sides like sauteed squash or fried bananas with garlic and cream. We went for the tortilla chips "fried to order" with a burnt habanero & creme fraiche salsa for $4. The salsa was amazing, so spicy and so sweet--not meant for people with delicate constitutions. The chips were fresh, but a little on the soggy side, but we didn't really mind. They've also got a Spanish chocolate & roasted arbol salsa which looked interesting, but I had to go with the creme fraiche of course. You can also get a "salsa flight" which is a sampler of all 4 of their unusual salsas. They've also got the prerequisite pico de gallo & guacamole for the less adventurous.
The menu is pretty extensive, but sadly there are only 4 vegetarian main dishes. I ordered the eggplant & potato tacos dorado for $5 & a $2 side of refried beans. Served in a paper dish, the tacos were stuffed, rolled & fried then smothered with guacamole and sour cream. Very filling and very very good. Oli got the verde and jack cheese enchiladas, $6, with sides of beans & rice. The enchiladas were fresh & the flavor(s) of tart lime and tomatillo were exquisitely combined with smooth jack cheese. The other vegetarian items on the menu were jack & cheddar enchiladas & a zucchini relleno, which I will return for--yum! Although most of the menu items are meat, they do sound interesting and unusual--several lobster dishes, rose petal & chocolate grilled chicken, and cola & orange juice slow roasted carnitas don't quite tempt me to eat meat, but I do wonder what vegetarian versions of these dishes would be like.
4326 Sunset Blvd at Fountain
Los Angeles, CA 90027
P.S. Watch out, the refried beans are made with pork! But the fresh beans are excellent.