Chichen Itza

Chichen ItzaOne of the benefits of my recent move to the east side is being closer to affordable, good food. Sorry westside, but other than a handful of favorites, my heart belongs to the east — or the SGV at least. Chichen Itza isn’t in the SGV, but it is a few miles south of me, which is okay in my books. This sit down Yucatan restaurant offers dishes that can please meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Being a Friday night, I started off with a glass of sangria. Did I mention it was a huge glass of sangria? The sanguine drink was fruity, strong, and not overly sweet. I’d suggest sharing a glass with a friend because it was so big, even I couldn’t finish it and I’ve been known to polish off whole pitchers of the stuff.

My dining companion and I split a jicama and citrus salad. At first, the saltiness of the dressing and the sweet juice from the citrus was jarring, but I quickly got used to it. It was unfortunate that we had such pulpy and pithy oranges because the hard pieces really prevented me from enjoying the salad. What’s funny was that my dining companion said it tasted too heavily of cilantro, but I didn’t notice at all; usually I’m the first to complain about cilantro.

Chichen Itza

For my entree, I ordered the baked chicken with confetti rice and fried plantains. The chicken was mouth-watering and tender with pieces just falling off the bone. Despite it being white meat, everything was juicy and flavorful thanks to the tangy sauce the chicken was cooked in. At first glance, the portion looked small, but by the time I was halfway through, I was satiated. The plantains were good as fried plantains often are, but the rice was just ordinary. It was clearly overshadowed by the fantastic chicken.

Chichen Itza

My dining companion ordered off their separate vegetarian menu and got the veggie panuchos. They looked like three tacos to me, but they were actually thin bean-stuffed corn tortillas topped with vegetables and pickled onions. They looked very pretty and had a deliciously savory crunch to each bite. The crispness of the toppings went well with the beans in the warm tortilla below. We both agreed that this dish would have benefited from a side of rice and beans, especially for the price. It just wasn’t filling enough and my dining companion had to order a side of confetti rice and plantains in order to leave full.

Chichen Itza

The dessert, a scoop of guanabana (soursop) was the highlight of my evening. The sorbet was tart and tasted slightly tropical, but it was the sprinkle of cayenne pepper and salt on top that brought it to a higher level. The pepper and salt brought out a distinct sweetness to each spoonful of sorbet. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is a nice little restaurant with a friendly, knowledgeable staff and delicious dishes. The prices are a bit higher than the usual casual restaurant; it’s not a place we’d go to all the time, but it’s nice to know the option is there. Their separate vegetarian (almost) menu has one or two vegan options and makes the place ideal for people with different dietary needs. I’m thinking of returning just for the guanabana dessert.

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Chichen Itza
2501 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 380-0051

Vegan fish & shrimp tacos

fish and shrimp tacos for dinner

I know, I know. How can fish and shrimp tacos be vegan? They’re obviously not made out of shrimp or fish, but I like to pretend they are.

We bought some fake-meat shrimp from a veggie market in the SGV so I tried to batter and fry them like regular shrimp, but the batter didn’t stick so well. The texture of the fake shrimp was really strange; when I imagine food from the future, that’s what I imagine it tasting like.

The vegan fish was made my usual way: frozen tofu, thawed out, battered with flour & panko and then fried. It didn’t come out as good this time though, probably because I didn’t have it in the freezer for too long.

In addition to the salsa, I also made a vegan white sauce for the tacos. Usually white sauce is mayonaise, condensed milk, and lime. I used veganaise, almond milk, and lime and it tasted pretty good. I wanted the sauce to go with shredded cabbage piled on top of the tacos, but I forgot to buy cabbage. Oops.