Malo: Never Before has a Restaurant's Name been so accurate.
My wife and I stopped at Malo for a quick bite to eat on Saturday night. We were in the Silver Lake area for a party, so we just needed a quick bite to eat, lest we make a mess of ourselves at the cocktail party... At 7:15PM, Malo was less than half full, but they wouldn't let us sit at one of the outside tables or tables along the wall because those were all reserved. But when we left at 8:30, those tables were all still open. Must be a very late dinner crowd in Silver Lake... yeah, right. My albondigas was perfectly edible, my wife's oaxacan shrimp were pretty good, and the avocado/tomatillo salsa was actually pretty tasty. So what's the problem? For $36 (tax and tip included), I could have eaten for a week at a taco truck that served comparable food. The menu clearly makes an attempt to make some classic taco truck food more upscale, but frankly, it was not very convincing or enticing. Looking at some of the tables near us, they seemed to agree because the more experimental dishes were languishing.
I would agree that Malo is limited in many, many ways, but I enjoyed my chicken fajitas in spite of myself. It was actually a very good dish, well seasoned and prepared. Go figure.
Ate there Friday night, as a warm-up to the Chow-event tomorrow, and 'cause the Chow-spouse wanted a drinkie. (. . . as opposed to "a drink". Drinkies generally involve fruit juice, and may involve paper umbrellas, flames, or names invoking geography (other than "Scotch") or sexual innuendo...) Drinkies were good; food not so. My chicken soft-tacos: gimme Tacos Villa Corona, dude. You can't make tacos out of chicken breast, and hold the meat warm for any period of time; you get jerky, and not in a good way. Her comment, re: her posole: "I could make this better...."
It's a good place to go with a group of people to just drink and get a couple things to eat and share with each other but I don't think I'd go there for just a sit down dinner with another person. Last few times I've been I ordered the exact the same thing (beef & pickle tacos $5.50, side of corn $3) and a bunch of drinks and walked away just full and tipsy enough. Their white sangria is pretty good.
It's never very good. I'm in the neighborhood a lot so often end up there with friends. The chips and habanero dip are good, everything else is mediocre at best. The room is loud and uncomfortable and service is not very attentive.
I must say that I have a fondness for their ground beef/cheese/pickle tacos - mind you, this is very similar to what my grandma used to fry up for taco nights in the Inland Empire and nothing I could not make myself at home. But I don't. So I'm glad that Malo makes them for the once-every-three year trip I seem to make there. The problem is that the "scene" seems to trump the cuisine - at least the people watching is amusing at times.