Not all meals have to be culinary blockbusters, and sometimes you don't want them to be. That's definitely true for me, especially for lunch - sometimes I just need food that tastes nice, doesn't cost too much, and gives me energy to power through the rest of my day. A couple of weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to grab a weekday lunch with Mark. After a somewhat productive morning at one of our neighborhood's many coffee spots, we decided to head over to Lala's Argentine Grill, located around the corner from us on the corner of Melrose and Alta Vista.
On that beautiful Monday, the weather dicated that the massive enclosed patio was full of leisurely diners and tables littered with afternoon cocktails and beers.
While we decided to forgo the midday libations, we were ready to eat. We started out with a basket of complimentary bread and a little bowl of chimichurri (below). The bread was nothing special, just a way to get the chimichurri (a green sauce popular in South American countries, which I love, and is made from chopped parsley, garlic, oil, vinegar and other seasonings) from the bowl into my mouth without me having to commit the tackiness of spooning it up. I would have liked the sauce a little more garlicky and maybe a little spicier, but it was pretty tasty just the same.
Next, we ordered the empanada combo, four of these adorably-sized filled pastries (below). The pastry itself was good, flaky and not overly dense.
They were filled with (from left to right) ham and cheese, spinach and onion, chicken and onion and beef and onion. These little guys were fine, but didn't leave enough of an impression on me to be able to say which I liked best.
Mark ordered the chorizo sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes (below). Interestingly, though Argentina is a country known for its meat, Lala's utilizes chorizo that is Italian in origin...in any event, everything about the sandwich and mashed potatoes was decent, if a little on the bland side.
I got the lomito sandwich, grilled, thinly sliced skirt steak topped with more chimichurri and a side of rice. I definitely preferred my choice to Mark's - the skirt steak was really nicely cooked, and well-seasoned, even without the zesty addition of the chimichurri. The rice could have used just a touch more seasoning, though.
Twas not bad, all things considered. Lala's lunchtime cuisine was filling and reasonably priced as a lunch option on a lazy day of strolling down Melrose, and good enough that I'd like to give it another shot for dinner sometime to give them a chance to wow me with their beef options. While some of the other options on that strip would more likely be my first choice, I can't say I'd be disappointed to wind up at Lala's for lunch in the future.