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.
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).
Taco de chicharrón ($2.25 per taco).
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.