Sunday, July 18, 2010

Itza Winner

There are two reasons to go to Mercado La Paloma near USC. One is Mo-Chica. The other is the ever fabulous Chichen Itza with its Yucatecan cuisine. That's southeast Mexican food if you're scratching your head.
Order your food at the counter, and it will be brought to your table. Like Mo-Chica, Chichen Itza has a no-frills ambiance but incredible food -- exactly what Papa Monkey wanted. He, Brother Monkey, Mr. Monkey, and I had such a good time sharing everything.

Jamaica and horchata.
Simple, sweet, and cold. No surprises here.

Taco de salpicon de venado -- baked leg of venison shredded and tossed with sour orange juice, cilantro, and diced radish ($3.75 per taco).
Very good. The accompaniments enhanced the venison without overpowering it.

Taco de chicharrรณn ($2.25 per taco).
Ohmygodthebestthingever. EVER. It's a taco made of fried pork rinds, people. Don't die without eating this taco first. Seriously. You will have lived in vain.

Pan de cazon -- four layers of soft corn tortillas moistened in black bean dip with sauteed shredded shark inside and topped with tomato sauce ($7.99).
So tender and packed with flavor! Excellent fish dish!

Cochinita pibil -- pork marinated with achiote, sour orange juice, and spices baked in a banana leaf and topped with pickled red onions ($8.29).
Fanfuckingtastic. One of the best versions I've ever had. Meaty, juicy, tangy, everything you could ever want in cochinita pibil.

Accompanying beans and rice.
Pleasant background noise for the superstar mains.

Bistec de venado ($22.00).
The only slightly disappointing dish we got. It was a chalkboard special of the day, so we were intrigued and ordered it. Not as tasty as the venison taco but certainly not bad at all. It's just that everything else was deserving of such excessive praise!

Do you like it hot? I'll give you hot.
So hot that even Papa Monkey thought it was hot, and he could eat the sun.

Papaya de almibar -- papaya slices cooked in sugar syrup ($2.19).
Sad to say, Chichen Itza isn't really the place you want to get dessert. I didn't like these sticky fruit sticks at all, but the rest of my family thought they were ok.

Caballeros pobres -- bread soaked in raisin syrup ($2.19).
Another thumbs down from me for this. It was like gulab jamun gone wrong with thick slices of white bread. Almost sickeningly sweet. Definitely get dessert elsewhere.

Still, Chichen Itza is a must-visit eatery. I can't wait to sample more of the savory menu. It will be hard to restrain ourselves from ordering everything next time.


  1. Sounds tasty. I'll just remember to grab dessert elsewhere. ;)

  2. You always have the cleverest titles for your posts!

  3. omg the tacos chicharonnes sound so good!

  4. I've been doing a lot of Mexican lately (but the San Diego version) since my friend living in Bahrain is visiting and they don't get good Mexican there.

  5. Ah... that's the place I went after visiting the Natural History Museum. It was muy bueno.

  6. Until I read this post I always that it was Chicken Itza. The correct name makes it sound much more appealing.

  7. man all of that just sounds so delicious and yumm.

  8. Holly tiburones! That shark stack looks mighty fine, too bad about the desserts though. Maybe they need to think of something better to do with old bread?

  9. I predict that this week's cravings will include tacos. Yum!

  10. OMG weezermonkey. I am not joking when I say that I've been on a mission to find chicharron in either a taco or empanada form (I had an amazing empanada in costa rice and have been dreaming of it ever since). Only other place I found that had it was la playita. Soooo excited to try this!!

  11. Hehe. I was eyeing this pattern of oilcloth to cover the top of my kitchen cart and thought the orange would be too garish. I'm glad I didn't get it. :P

  12. Was it real shark in the taco? Isn't that unusual? And I wonder how manyvenison one sees in the Yucatan? LOL...I don't remember any! Love their creativity, venison is a very lean red meat. But just this year Hawaii made the endangered shark illegal.

  13. this is a place I've heard much about. I must check it out! (And avoid the dessert)

  14. i need a chicharron taco.

    (not a huge fan of mexican desserts in general.)

  15. OMG! had to comment again because the word verification this time is "tater."

  16. Love the flavor combinations - looks amazing.


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