>> Chichén Itzá | Eat the World Los Angeles

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Chichén Itzá


(Inside Mercado La Paloma)
COVID-19 UPDATE: Mercado La Paloma has reopened for indoor dining and there is still an outdoor dining area for those that prefer (August 2021).

UPDATE DEC 2020: This article has been updated with current prices and a few more dishes, as well as some new photos.

UPDATE AUG 2021: This article has been updated with two more dishes from a recent visit.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Part of the "Los Angeles Classics" series.

For now over 20 years Mercado La Paloma, a stones throw east of the 110, has been a successful response to the needs of the surrounding community. During its formation, nearby residents wanted a market similar to the ones they left behind in their countries of birth. If your interests are in the food court, Chichén Itzá is possibly the most unique stall (along with its younger sibling Holbox), attracting hungry patrons from the south of México since its opening in 2001.
Others began to follow a few years after that, curious to find out about these foods. As the name might suggest, the food here is yucateca, from the state of Yucatán. They of course have cochinita pibil, but other foods on their menu should not be skipped. The taste of traditional foods is realized through a combination of importing ingredients and making others from scratch every day. Meats are still cooked over a wood burning grill as you would find in Yucatán, part of their secret.

The base of the salbutes ($8.45, above) are puffy deep-fried tortillas, topped with tomato and avocado. This antojito is common in Yucatán and surrounding regions including Belize. They can be made to order with your choice of shredded beef or pork, but the standard offering here is shredded turkey combined with pickled red onions, used in many dishes in the state.
Cochinita pibil sometimes gets the English translation of pulled pork, and this does not exactly do it a disservice, but also does not get to the spirit of the famous yucateco dish. Shown here as an order of two tacos de cochinita pibil ($6.95, below), the achiote-marinated shredded pork is topped once again with pickled red onions and really does not cry out for salsa unless you see fit.

All of the tortillas they are serving with orders of tacos or as sides are always made here fresh and should be unwrapped and enjoyed as soon as possible. To further enjoy the state's signature dish, grab a full order of cochinita pibil ($13.95, below) from the platos fuertes section of the menu.
As with the tacos, a nice blanket of pickled red onions will keep the shredded pork warm. A generous portion of white rice and black beans accompanies the plate, as well as three fresh and delicious tortillas. As ever, their famous habanero salsa comes with every order and can be drizzled over everything as desired. It is spicy and magnificent, but their foods almost wish to be eaten on their own as well. Thankfully there are three tortillas and you can keep changing your mind.

Another great dish to try here that will bring back memories of trips to the wonderful food and cultural city of Mérida is sopa de lima ($6.45, below). This soup uses shredded turkey in a rich turkey broth, as well as the namesake lima agria, an especially bittersweet lime found in Yucatán.
Fried strips of tortilla come standard with the soup, making it a staunch rival of the more common sopa de tortilla. These will of course be packaged on the side, making the soup travel well if you need to get it home.

For a few years now the owners have been running a Yucatecan seafood stand in the same market called Holbox. If for no other reason, the highly acclaimed menu of that stand should tip you off that a tostada de ceviche ($7.45, below) is probably going to be pretty good here.
The order comes with a side of avocado salsa which can be skipped or not, but the amount of fish that goes onto one tostada could be described as mountainous. Obviously, it is as fresh as can be.

Tacos de poc chuc
Tacos de poc chuc ($6.95 for 2)

Tamal colado
Tamal colado ($5.95)


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