The locations in West Hollywood and Encino are closed, so we can concentrate on the original, shaking its tailfeathers on the dingy corner of Virgil and Melrose. Every square inch is saucily colored; one wall is on fire, another draped with faux cannabis leaves. Virgin Mary altars and prayer candles gaze serenely over the diners. It's a party place steeped in its own invented traditions.
We tend to get the tapas-style dishes that end up stuffing the hell out of us. The Ceviche Guadalupe is a rich, seafoody salsa, all swordfish, salmon, and shrimp all swimming together in a samba spa, and other insane alliteration I can't avoid when dipping my chips into this stuff.
The Black Bean Tamales are smoooooth, the cornmeal infused with the unique scent and taste of black bean and golden caviar.
The Jerk Pork is a tenderloin powerhouse on a crisped tortilla, drenched in a dark spicy sauce bent on revenge. It's not especially Jamaican--it's more like a mole sauce that's spent some time in prison--but it commands attention.
Some aren't our favorites but are worth trying, and go well with particular drinks. The Guava and Goat Cheese Quesadilla is almost like a stuffed pita, and the guacamole is necessary to ease off on the goat cheese tang. The Crispy Shrimp Cakes are like a mutant crab cake fought a box of Rice Krispies, except a lot better than that particular simile sounds; the shrimp is subdued and not overly battery. The tartar sauce helps.
Their tropical punch is grapefruity rather than a saccharine red, and if I retained hold of the menu I could tell you what was in Bianca's "Voodoo Spiced Cocktail."
Parking is a five-buck valet investment, but street parking is a little nervous.
There's a pair of Cha Cha Chas in San Francisco (on Haight and on Mission) that are highly acclaimed, and I'm unsure if they're related.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Mexican, Brazilian, Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park, Jamaican )
|« Larkin's||House of Joy Mandarin Szechuan Restaurant »|