How can you experience the feel of eating in the hot Mexican summer? Go to MacArthur Park, suggests Dommy, and feast on Mexican salads, ceviches, and tamales at two great places: Mama’s Hot Tamales and the new full-scale restaurant branch of Chichen Itza.
If you want cleansing and light, go to Mama’s Hot Tamales and order a nopales (cactus) salad. It’s perfect in a corn tortilla, says Dommy. “If you think there is no such thing as a good veggie taco … have one with nopales … YUM!” And Mama’s plantains are good too. They’re lightly fried, and come with “awesome black rice and crema.”
And let’s not forget the tamales. The chicken chile verde tamale is “wonderful … moist, flavorful, and full of chicken.” Even better is the black mole tamale: “just awesome,” says Dommy, while the accompanying rice and beans are some of Dommy’s favorite in the city. “The rice is buttery and she adds yerba santa to the beans, which adds a nice herbal pop!”
There is also excellent champurrado (a drink of chocolate and corn), and “killer” coffee. If you want the best of both worlds, go for the Mexican mocha, advises Dommy.
Next stop is Chichen Itza, serving upscale Mexican summer food. Dommy tried the seafood appetizer sampler, which includes shrimp ceviche, very fresh mussels in smoky habanero sauce, and tuna-stuffed chiles.
Then came the pulpo en su tinta. “The octopus was cooked tender and the ink sauce was one of the best I’ve had,” says Dommy. “This is truly a unique Mexican dish and they execute it so well.”
Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe [Downtown]
2122 W. Seventh Street, Los Angeles
Chichen Itza [Downtown]
2501 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles