As you may have heard, the last day of the 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar is December 21st of this year. Is the world going to end on that day? Probably not. Is it a good reason for an end of the world party? You bet! And I know exactly where to get the food. Chichen Itza Restaurant, named after the ancient Mayan city, specializes in Mexican cuisine from the Yucatan region (where the Mayans lived) and is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It’s located in the awesome Mercado La Paloma Community Marketplace, a cool and funky warehouse-like space/food court where you can get inexpensive gourmet grub, view an art show and buy a dress for a quinceanara. Mercado La Paloma was also the home of my favorite Peruvian restaurant, Mo-Chica, until it moved to swankier digs a few weeks ago.
I’ve had almost everything on the menu at Chichen Itza and I love every dish there. The Kibis are an amazing way to start your meal. Introduced to the Yucatan by Lebanese immigrants more than a century ago, they are ground beef and cracked wheat patties which have been seasoned with mint and spices, fried golden brown and served with Yucatecan pickled red onions. I also recommend the Sikil-Pac, a dip made with roasted tomatoes, pumpkin seeds & chives, and served with tortilla chips. The Tacos de Chicharron, made with crispy fried pork cracklings, pico de gallo and diced avocados are really unusual and a must-have. But my favorite dishes of all are the Queso Relleno, which is edam cheese stuffed with ground pork, olives and capers and served with a white sauce, and the Cochonita Pibil, a very popular Yucatecan specialty of braised pork which has been wrapped and cooked in a banana leaf with achiote marinade. To drink, get an Agua de Chaya, a sweet beverage made with a leafy green vegetable known as “tree spinach.” I know that a green vegetable drink might not sound appealing but trust me on this one. Like everything else at Chichen Itza, it’s really good!
Chichen Itza is located at 3655 S. Grand Ave in Los Angeles (South LA near USC).