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Chichen Itza: Tasty, Affordable Mexican Food With Yucatan Flavors

GinaLisa Tamayo |
February 7, 2011 | 1:22 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Photo by GinaLisa Tamayo
Photo by GinaLisa Tamayo
Right in the heart of Los Angeles, off South Grand Ave., there is a little gem in the middle of the Mercado La Paloma. It’s called Chichen Itza.

The Yucatan inspired flavors set this place apart from other Mexican inspired cuisine – in a good way. 

The menu consists of breakfast, appetizers, tacos and main dishes. There are no burritos here! 

Instead, they offer a unique selection of plates that infuse the flavors of the Yucatan area of Mexico. Most of the main dishes come with fried plantains, black beans and white rice, not the typical pinto beans and Spanish rice. 

For starters, the authentic Panuchos are delicious. They come on a crispy, fried corn tortilla and are like a mini tostada with tomatoes, turkey, avocado and pickled onion. If crispy tacos aren’t your thing, they also have a selection of soft tacos too. 

The pollo asado plate is a satisfying treat after a long day. It consists of a portion of buttery white rice, black beans salted just right and a five-ounce piece of grilled chicken topped with a roasted tomato chutney type salsa. The chicken is delicious and has great grill flavor. There are plantains for a little something sweet that contrasts just right with the savor of the overall dish. 

What really differentiates this from other Mexican restaurants is the way they prepare their tamales. In most Mexican joints, the tamales are wrapped and steamed in a cornhusk, but at Chichen Itza they use banana leaves. The banana leaf makes the masa extra moist and the texture is much smoother than a traditional corn husked wrapped tamale. The tamal colado is impressive. It’s stuffed with small pieces of chicken marinated in a flavorful achiote red sauce that oozes out when you cut into it and instantly melts in your mouth.  

Chichen Itza is a fast, casual concept. The customer walks up to the counter to order, pays, sits down and waits for someone to bring out the plate.  The atmosphere is like an open-air market where you can get a lot more than just eating done. There is a bakery and a selection of other restaurants serving more than just Latin inspired food. There are also a few novelty shops. 

Overall, the experience at Chichen Itza is almost top-notch; if only they used colorful plates to accentuate the lovely presentation and had glasses instead of paper cups. But Chichen Itza is still fresh and quality food sold at cheap taqueria prices.

Check out the full menu at www.chichenitzarestaurant.com.  

Reach Reporter GinaLisa Tamayo here. 




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