We're sort of starting to fall in love with Silverlake (below, left). On a recent warm weekend, we found ourselves just a few short blocks away from the Silverlake Farmer's Market with a big appetite and a few hours to kill. That's where Malo (below, right) comes in - a lazy Sunday late morning during a rare December heat-wave made the Mexican restaurant's shady patio an ideal place to brunch.
Offering $1 Tacos on Monday nights and 'Margartia Night' Tuesdays, Malo is full of good deals. And more to our purpose, Malo also serves up brunch (below) all-weekend long starting at 9 AM. We arrived pretty early with our friend Christina to get first crack at the Cantina Suavecita's brunch offerings.
We were among the first guests to hit the patio (below, left) when we arrived, but we weren't discouraged by the early hour, or the rather ecclectic nature of the decor.
The first menu we perused was the cocktail menu. Sure, they make a mean horchata, but you're doing yourself a disservice if you let the morning hours divert you from the cocktail menu. These drinks are good enough to be consumed at any hour of the day, even if said hour implicates that you're a raging alcoholic. It's always time to drink at Malo.
Malo serves some staggeringly good cocktails. Angela went with the La Paloma Fizz, a blend of Jimador Reposado, fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice and grapefruit bitters. I couldn't resist the Spicy Cucumber Margarita (below). Made with Casa Nobles Silver Tequila, their take on the classic margarita was livened up with Agave Nectar and a Tapatio Hot Sauce. The fiery kick of the legitimately hot libation was cut with the cool, fresh taste of cucumber. This is, without question, one of my favorite takes on the margarita ever. Malo also has an impressive list of tequilas.
But we didn't come for the drinks. Malo offers a pretty decent selection of eats as well. Before we even get to main dishes, we need to talk about their chips. Malo doesn't offer the pre-meal snackers complimentary. It seems like an easy point of contention, too, that Malo charges for their chips and salsa. Yet, you wont hear me complaining about the cost any time soon. This was the best part. For $4 you can order one of their salsas, or for $12 you can order a flight of salsas. "A flight of salsas." I like the sound of that.
Just one sufficed for our party of three, and we chose the restaurant's most popular offering: the Burnt Habanero & Creme (below). Much like my spicy and fresh cocktail, the spicy salsa left a delightful burning sensation in our mouths that could only be cooled down with another refreshing dose of the creme...and habanero. This made for an addicting cycle, proving the salsa more than worth its cost. Oh, but I haven't even gotten to the best part --
The "chuey" chips.
I've never seen these before, but it's easily my new favorite gimmick. Malo also offers regular, crispy chips, but their signature made-to-order chips are... well, in a word... chewy. I don't know how they make them this way, but when you pick up the double-thick chips they feel surprisingly pliable. It's like some sort of genius cross between grilled tortilla and an undercooked chip. Coupled with the salsa, I would've been perfectly content at this point in the meal to cancel our entree orders and gum through a couple more orders of these chips.
As if we weren't already full from all those chips, we munched on an order of Beef & Pickle Tacos (below). The shells were fried and crispy and the interesting combo of ground beef and and tangy pickle slices was topped with a healthy portion of shredded cheese.
We were slowing down quick by the time our entrees arrived. Angela's Pozole and Poached Eggs (below) arrived steaming, with perfectly runny eggs stewing in a hot chile tomato broth along with hominy, chicken, cheese and tortillas. The shrinking amount of available real estate in our stomachs appreciated the savory stew of comfort food. After our cocktails, chips and salsa, we could've been served a plate full of dirt and walked out happy. Our entrees may have been relegated to afterthought status, but they were all worthy samples from the kitchen.
I ordered the Burrito Ahogado (below) and when it arrived my stomach put up the white flag. It was gi-normous, stuffed with carne asada, refried beans, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole and monterey jack cheese. Had this come at the beginning of the meal, I would have likely devoured it in its entirety. But to avoid an uncomfortable afternoon (and potentially rupturing my stomach) I took a few polite bites and packaged the rest for a later date. What I did eat made me wish I had a second stomach. The thin cuts of beef were really flavorful (if a little tough), and well-complemented by the freshness of the other ingredients.
The service was friendly, but felt stretched a little thin as the patio started filling up, but if you're looking for a Mexican joint with a drink selection to match its menu, Malo is your rare exception. Start out with a Spicy Cucumber Margarita or a Bloody Maria. Begin your eating adventure with some guacamole and burnt habanero creme salsa to dip your chewy chips into. Trust me. I really can't think of a better beginning to a Sunday afternoon.