Sunday, June 7, 2009

One Evening in Skid Row: Yxta & The Association

Yxta Cucina Mexicana
601 S. Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 596-5579

Craving albondigas de pescado, we returned to Skid Row again Saturday night to eat and drink. Sadly, the fish albondigas is served only on Friday, and the kitchen was out of the Flores de Calabazas Rellenos con Queso Oaxaca (stuffed squash blossoms) I was longing for. But there we were, and last time I was there I was convinced that this place is not getting the attention it deserves for the quality of its food and drink. I took this as an opportunity to sample something different from the menu.

C and I started with a "trust me" cocktail, made from agua fresca de sandia. Jesse mixed the watermelon agua fresca with sparkling wine, and it was delicious. Light and refreshing.

Last time there, some humans were sitting in the corner, making it difficult to get good room shots. Family style tables are a great choice for a dinner party without being banished to a private room. Both the food and the prices at Yxta make this a perfect destination for a birthday party. We saw several parties larger than 6 getting started before we ended our meal. Love the light quality, the industrial yet polished feel of the room.

Los Banos...

We started out sharing some apps. D ordered practically before we got in the door. Sometimes I wish he would eat before we go out to dinner because he acts like a starving child when someone puts menus in front of us. Sometimes a leisurely pace is a nice thing. At any rate, Jesse recommended the Empanadas. These are offered with beef, chicken or cheese, and we sprung for cheese because the only meat C eats is fish. It was pretty delicious. Nice fluffy little pillows of dough with just the right amount of cheese in the middle. Not over or under filled.

We also shared the Taquitos de Camaron. The kitchen was generous with the guacamole on the plate, which really made the dish. This was universally loved, the shell was very crispy and the shrimp inside was large and satisfying.

After noshing on such hearty antojitos, C and I decided to share an entree. Salmon en Salsa de Mango. Solidly great tasting, I would have preferred this dish to be less rich. It seems to be swimming in butter or oil, as you can see on the bottom of the plate. More mango salsa, and salmon in my mind does not need extra fat to make it flavorful. However, the filet was generous and we certainly didn't leave the table hungry even for people sharing a dish.

Chipotle mashed potatoes were the hit of the evening. Psychotically delicious. Irish/Mexican mash. Cabbage, large chunks of chipotle mashed with potato and "just a little butter". Crazy good.

Jesse rec'd the Enchiladas de Salmon for D. The spiciness of this grew to be too much for him, but luckily it didn't creep to that level til he was nearly done eating. I didn't find them spicy at all, but I can take some heat. I am hard core like that. I would have liked to have seen more avocado and onions on top, so I could have a little in every bite.

Rice and beans, like last time, solidly great. Simple but cooked well.

One drink never really being enough, but two perhaps being one too many, C and I shared the Pina Real. Pineapple with tequila and jalapeno. This could have used more heat from the jalapeno, but it was beautifully pinappley. Crave worthy during the coming hot summer months.

D sipped at Tequila Ocho, among other tequilas, all evening long.

We shared a cinnamon flan. After all that food, I could barely eat one bite. But the cinnamon with the custard is a genius pairing.

Yxta in Los Angeles

The Association
110 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 627-7385

With our bellies full and nothing to do, daylight still in our favor, we hoofed it through Skid Row to The Association. The walk was colorful.

First visit to The Association, my new most favorite bar in Los Angeles. Wisely but not purposefully, we were among the first customers. We earned the pleasure of securing the attention of Larry, the world's most charming bartender ever since the discovery of fermentation. Adorable in that "28 year old Hollywood musician" kind of way. Reminds me of when Flick was just a boy/puppy. Both defy that stereotype by being great conversationalists, smart and interesting. And just a little frisky.

Larry definitely promote their specialty cocktails. For some reason this spring I have really been going off the reservation with regard to my adult beverages. Instead of sticking to wine or vodka & soda, I have been trying all kinds of fancy drinks everywhere we go. I don't know what has gotten into me.

C started with the Pisco Sour, which appears to be making the scene in trendy bars all over the place. Reminds me of Ana, my Peruvian roommate when I lived in the Fairfax 'hood. She used to make me Pisco Sours on the weekends. Ana's tasted remarkably like Larry's. Good. Fresh. Sweet. Foamy.

I let Larry talk me into a French 75. T has been drinking these for awhile. She served them at a birthday party awhile back, and I refrained because gin scares me. I imagine myself falling into a life of gin soaked alcoholism, hiding a fifth of Bombay in my coat pocket and wearing newspapers for shoes. The French 75 was gorgeous. Gin, champagne, lemon juice and a little simple syrup. Luscious fizz. I don't know why I resisted.

Some loquacious lad next to us ordered himself a birthday Hemingway. I always think of daiquiris when I think of Hemingway. This was a little like what I would make as my version of a daiquiri. Rum, lime, sugar, sans blender. It was simple and delicious. A cocktail made in a coupe is always fun to drink. One instantly transforms into Daisy Buchanan, in a white dress with pearls and an innocent (kinda) smile, leaning too far to the left while holding the coupe precariously close to spilling it...yet...never...quite....losing a drop.

Wow. I have no recollection what C was drinking as her last of the night. And I have no hangover. I just have a really bad memory. It fizzed. It dripped. She drank.

Just when the crowd really began to press in at our backs, we settled our tab and said our goodbyes. Skid Row at midnight is a bad bet at best, so we hopped on the bus that fortuitously arrived right as we poured ourselves up with stairs and onto the 6th Street sidewalk. It dropped us off back right in front of Yxta.


SinoSoul said...

this Yxta meals seems more... well rounded than ours? we had these scrumptious fried tacos de camarones this wknd which reminds me of your taquitos de camarones. Love the Association. Enjoy it much more than its claustrophobic neighbor.

Diana said...

Why are all the cool places in downtown LA now?

Great photos -- those mashed taters kind of look like scoops of ice cream!

Food, she thought. said...

I think the meal was fairly well rounded. They were out of several menu items. And they use a lot of fat and oil in the cooking, I remember their famous shrimp dish and how oily it was, similar to the salmon.

Because downtown is cool! :-D The taters were awesome!