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REVIEW w/ pics: Lunch at Chico's in Highland Park

pleasurepalate | Mar 17, 2008 11:44 PM

On my way to an LA Conservancy Walking Tour of Highland Park, a bright, colorful yellow building caught my eye and considering it was on a street running parallel to the one I was driving on, I probably shouldn't have been taking a peek. I did make a mental note; however, that it was a Mexican restaurant and that maybe, I'd check it out after the tour. Lo and behold, our tour ended right across the street and I knew it was fate.

Before I walked across joined by others from the tour, I did notice the remnants of an old sign with the words "Cafe" on it, attached to the same pole as Chico's Restaurant sign. It seemed so somber in color and out of place sitting over a building that looked as if a rainbow exploded over it; yet, keeping that old sign seemed almost as an homage to what was past was actually pretty cool.

Entering the restaurant, with a blue sombrero touting "Respect Your Hood" painted above the door, I went into a dining area with red and green striped booths and with walls showcasing painted murals of Mexican life. It's not a very big space, but I really liked the vibe and soon a very friendly waitress came our way with menus. Even the menus were a little different than what I've seen before. These weren't pages filled with computer fonts neatly typed. Instead, the menu pages contained illustrated images and even the text, except for one section, looked like they were drawn with a feeling of liveliness. From the outside to the inside to the menu, Chico's was definitely a visual experience.

Before even placing our orders, we were served the proverbial chips and salsa, but that salsa was really good. The flavors were as fresh as the ingredients were vibrantly colorful. When it came to ordering a drink, I skipped over the soft drinks and opted for a strawberry agua fresca. I have to say that while I like ague frescas, I've had them in the past where they were too sweet, too sugary, but the one I had a Chico's was just right and very refreshing.

While others in the group went for the tacos and burritos on the menu, my taste buds had a hankering for the pork chile verde and that's exactly what I got. My taste buds picked a winner. The tomatillos in the chili verde sauce added a nice tangy-grassiness while the chilies added a little kick to the fork-tender pork, which made not only for happy taste buds, but also for a happy me.

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Chico's, but more than just good food, Chico's is definitely a visual feast. Coming from a graphic design background, I can't help but appreciate the fun colors and the quirkiness of this restaurant space. I bet even in the gloomiest of days with pouring rain, Chico's bright yellow facade would still be a beacon that hungry customers can find their way to and with the good food waiting inside, who could blame them?

To see pics, go to:

100 N Ave 50
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 254-2445


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