I’ve been wanting to check this place out since Los Angeles Magazine championed it as one of the city’s 10 best new restaurants, so last night we headed over to the downtown market where this food stand/sit-down restaurant resides. If that sounds strange, it’s because it is. The restaurant is located in a warehouse style space, with markets and clothing stands, kind of like the Farmer’s Market at the Grove, but indoors and Hispanic. It is a lot like a marketplace I went to Puerto Vallarta, so I guess it makes sense. Except there’s a Thai food stand in the corner. Anyway, they still have to work out some kinks—it took over half an hour for them to make our food, and considering we ordered a ceviche I was a little concerned we would die of old age before getting the main course, but they were apologetic and gave us a free purple corn drink, which was quite tasty, kind of a mix between a Jamaica agua fresca and an acai cocktail. They also have an odd seating system. There were a bunch of free tables when we got there, but we had to put our name on a list. Immediately afterwards we were seated, at the table next to where we had seated ourselves before we knew about the list.
In any case, it was all worth it when the food arrived. The ceviche was what most critics have raved about, and it was delicious. It’s not the ceviche we’re used to, rather it’s the Peruvian kind, more of what I would identify as a fish carpaccio in a citrusy, tangy, spicy sauce. It is wonderful. But whatever you do, please do not miss the arroz con pollo. I haven’t had chicken this tender since Michael Voltaggio’s pressed chicken in the chestnut soup at the now shuttered Langham Huntington. And that chicken cost…well, it was part of a tasting menu that ran me a cool $79. This chicken costs $11. I asked the server how they cooked the chicken, because it was so impossibly tender and juicy I thought maybe it was done sous-vide, but he said they sprinkled garlic and spices on it and put it in the oven. I think he’s lying. I don’t blame him. If I could make chicken that good, I would keep the recipe a secret too.