Yucatan Cuisine inside a neat little Food Court near USC.
Shame on you Los Angeles, for keeping yet another Food treat hidden away from me.
Okay…granted, I could have just googled this sucker, or searched Zomato (as I did) to find her, but…
Still…I had no idea this restaurant was tucked away in this good a Food Court/Mercado in the heart of Los Angeles…and so close to USC (why does USC have all the good stuff?)
I’m going to ignore the Guy Fieri autographed poster, and just move on.
I mean, I’m looking around and I swear this place feels like a Co-op. There’s live music, there’s energy.
And there’s this place. Chichen Itza, serving up Yucatan Cuisine.
Now, first…what is the Chichen Itza? Well, the first thing to explain is that the Chichen Itza is not the Chichen Itza.
What do I mean?
Well, when you usually see a picture of the Chichen Itza, you usually think of this:
So…this restaurant is named after the City, and not the temple? Got it? Got it. #TheMoreYouLearn.
So Chichen Itza (the restaurant) is all about the Yucatan Cuisine. Yucatan Cuisine is unique to Mexico, as I’ve told you before. Personally, I find it stunning and delicious like at my time at El Faisan y El Venado. So, given my flavorful, tasty delicious history with that place, I can’t wait to see what Chichen Itza can do for me here.
And it’s…pretty damn good. Not the best, but…good.
Look, the fact of the matter is this place isn’t as good as El Faisan y El Venado, but it was better than El Portal. It’s mostly comfortable and casual (remember, this place serves folks in Downtown and USC Students in the know). It is a bit noisy as there are a bunch of other businesses and restaurants working in there. It was a bit crowded as I got there, but I was able to find seating close to Chichen Itza.
It’s a good little joint. If nothing else, I plan to come back here just to explore the other restaurants at work inside the Mercado.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I came for Yucatan Cuisine, and Yucatan Cuisine for me, means Panuchos. They’re done in the traditional way, with a crispy fried tortilla split and filled with a black bean puree, topped with lettuce, Pickled Red Onions, and Shredded Turkey and a slice of Avocado.
They look pretty, but Turkey is such a softer meat than good grilled pork, they flavors did not stand out to me. But the funny thing, as I mentioned, Turkey is the most traditional way to go. So the Pork I had at El Faisan y El Venado may have ruined me for life.
Ruined Turkey on Panuchos, not Panuchos in general. Never. Love those.
Chichen Itza gives you only two Panuchos per serving. So I had to add something to fill out the meal. In this case, I chose Tacos De Cochinita de Pibil.
Now, these were okay. As I’ve written in the past, I’m more of a Taco Al Pastor fan over a Cochinita Pibil. Cochinita Pibil is stewed pork, where as Al Pastor is sliced, kinda like you’d see done to Lamb or Beef at a Shawarma joint.
I’ve always found Cochinita Pibil just a little too soupy and juicy, but the addition of pickled red onion, the same pickled red onion on the Panuchos were a welcome addition. So even though I’m not Cochinita Pibil’s biggest fan. These were still pretty good.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Okay, for those looking for the big blaring sign that says “Chichen Itza“, you’re out of luck. You’re looking for the Mercado on South Grand Avenue. Don’t be afraid of the neighborhood. Someone has put some money, some time and some thought into this place. Parking will be handled in a sec, but the float where
PARKING: Okay, this is the tricky part. As much as I like this place, as much as I like the Mercado overall, Parking is…well…pretty typical Downtown L.A (that nest of vipers and thieves). We’re talking $7 bucks to park, so…you can try to explore the neighborhood, but…c’mon. You’re paying the $7 bucks.
3655 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Tel: (213) 741-1075
Sunday-Thursday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm