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MALO in Silverlake

  • k

I had the WORST dining experience in my life last night at this over priced mexican joint. It took 40 minutes to get chips and salsa, an hour to get our food and we had a waitress who rolled her eyes when we aked her for tortillas and rice (which wasn't part of the $12 entree).

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  1. MALO sounds like its living up to its name

    1. My SO and I went w/ another couple before the holidays, and we had pretty much the same experience. I didn't expect great food, and I was right on that score, but that didn't have much to do with our lack of satisfaction. Our waiter was TERRIBLE. They have little water glasses and I am not kidding, we had to ask 3 or 4 times to get refills. And each time there was not so much as a flicker of recognition that we had asked for this before. Same thing happened with drink orders, and w/ chips and salsa orders.

      I might go back and sit at the bar, b/c the chips/guacamole and margaritas were good - and then I would not have to deal w/ a server. The fact that 2 of the staff can be that bad (poster's server was a woman so that makes two horrendous servers) does not bode well for this place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Megan

        This is the complete opposite of my experience there last Friday night.

        Arrived sometime around 9:30 p.m., and the place was PACKED and LOUD. This was my only complaint. My girlfriend and I practically had to shout across the table to be heard.

        But, we had very attentive service. Less than a minute after we were seated, someone came to take our drink orders. We had two margaritas, and I asked for chips and salsa, too.

        The chips came out a minute or two later (they are fried to order). The margaritas came shortly thereafter. In fact, I was suprised how quickly they came given that the place was literally packed to the gills and it was SRO at the bar.

        I found the food a bit uneven. The shrimp and carne asada tacos were very satisfying. My girlfriend liked the shrimp ceviche, but I thought the shrimp seemed a bit tough. I would have rather tried the fish ceviche, but I deferred to her preference. :-)

        A second round of margaritas was offered and delivered at the right time.

        By midnight, the place had thinned out somewhat. The din of diners was replaced by the din of the music heard over the sound system, so we still needed to raise our voices. I think they should seriously reconsider the music (or at least the volume level). It can't be heard when the place is even half-full, and they still have to play it very loudly to be heard except if the place is completely empty...and so everyone shouts to be heard over that. Since it seems to be mostly hard surfaces without any soundproofing, they should probably just do away with the (otherwise perfectly acceptable) soundtrack.

        But I would definitely go back. Food and service were perfectly fine.

      2. Had the exact same awful experience about a month or so back. Went there for a friends birthday with a group of six people. The waitress takes our drink order, drops off drinks and then disappears for the next half hour. She finally comes back to take orders (at this point we've eaten all the chips, drinks are empty, we've got no water, etc) we get another round of drinks and put in orders and then she disappears for the next 45 minutes. A table of two sits at the table next to ours about an hour after we do, their food comes at the exact same time as ours.

        We complain to the manager who is only partially apologetic. Food when it finally comes is only okay though at this point to be honest I don't think I would have noticed if it was amazing.

        Finally desperate to leave we get check, Manager comps us 5 drinks (there were six people drinking at the table), they add a 20% gratuity to the check. At this point I'm ready to raise hell but because it was a friends birthday we say screw it rather than ruin his birthday further, pay and bill and swear never to come back.

        I will never, ever, ever return to Malo. Had I not gotten on a plane to go away on vacation the very next morning I would have written this a long time ago urging you all to do the same.

        1 Reply
        1. re: discokill

          The exact same thing happened to me. I wanted to like this place but they treated us like shit and I will NEVER go back. This is the only place in LA I have been that was so bad, making us wait for hours and hours and being incredibly rude about it.

        2. I know what you are saying, but at the same time, the place has a great energy, good food, and its cute. Not a combination you typically find with Mexican restaurants. ;)

          1 Reply
          1. re: pravada17

            Strange...I always have a good time there, and enjoy the food. I typically sit at the bar, though. My favorites are the habanero creme salsa and their carnitas, and the house margs are always great. Guess it's a good thing that I never sit in the restaurant! The vibe reminds me a lot of El Carmen, one of my favorite tequila bars on the west side.

            Clare K.

          2. I wasn't going to post about MALO because I just complained about India Sweets & Spices and figured I should say something nice before I complain again. But I went on Friday with some friends -- they were eating dinner and I was drinking -- and our waitress hated us. It was actually kind of strange. She kept rolling her eyes and was really irritated when I asked how much the margaritas were, which I was glad I did because my friends didn't specify the tequila they wanted and their pretty good margaritas were 9 bucks. Their food looked pretty good and they both said it was tasty. I wanted to like it because it's really close to my house, but I don't think I'll go back.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fromberkeleytolosangeles

              I feel the need to defend Malo...I can't imagine why there are such disparate reviews. I am FAR from a Silver Lake hipster type, but I have always been treated great by all the servers. Now, there is one female server with braids and tattoos who has seemed less than thrilled to be there, but the bussers and food runners seem to make up for that.

              As for having to ask for tortillas, I'm surprised! They come with many of the entrees and they always ask if you want corn or flour. It is a little odd how the rice and beans are all a la carte, but I think this actually prevents me from over-eating.

              Anyway, since they opened a few years back, I have probably eaten here at least 50 times and have never had a bad meal or truly bad service. Hell, I've never even had to wait for a table, which is why I like coming here, even on a Friday/Saturday night.

              It's a certain kind of Silver Lake thing...the food isn't "traditional Mexican" but it's consistent. If you don't like it on first try, you probably won't ever like it.

              The service issues should definitely be forwarded to someone.

              1. re: annalulu

                In addition, the "service issues" that are referenced in the original poster's post happened THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO. If this thread was revived because of another person's current review, it would have been fine, but somebody "concurring" with a three and one-half year old complaint about the service is not that useful to anyone.

                Personally, I've mostly had good service at Malo with the occasional "average" night, and have always enjoyed the food. I love the hard shell beef tacos, the pork in green chile, and the salsas, guac and chips (ask for them crispy). I've been there around once every two months since it opened, and often more frequently than that.

            2. I have heard nothing but bad things about this place (I haven't eaten there myself because they don't seem to have any vegetarian options, which is kind of strange for a not-very-traditional Mexican place in the middle of Silver Lake). I think it's kind of ironic that given the fairly negative buzz about this place that Chowhound chose to have their meet-up here.

              2 Replies
              1. re: will47

                I was a bit surprised too - the food, aside from the (expensive) chips and salsa, is unremarkable, and last time I went one of the servers was so insanely rude to my friend and I that I almost asked what we had done wrong. And I'm afraid of confrontation. Luckily she wasn't our server for the evening, just the mean girl at the front who sneered and then yelled at us when we asked if we could get food at the bar. So weird.

                1. re: will47

                  This is gonna be an interesting meet-up :)

                2. The disparity is odd indeed. I was there Friday early, with a friend who had to get home FAST, and we were served promptly and efficiently. If nothing else, the habanero crème salsa is worth going for. But I also love the beef and pickle tacos.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Tom P

                    The disparity carries over to the Steve Arroyo's other restaurants, like the pair of Cobras & Matadors. (It also held true for The Hillmont and Cobra Lily when they were around.) Some people have high praise for the places, and others have horror stories, and there seems to be almost no middle ground between the two. It all seems to come down to the service. The waitstaff makes or breaks the experience, really. I've been to Malo once, not quite a year-and-a-half ago, and I had a good time. (I haven't gone back simply because there are other places in town to experience, but I certainly wouldn't mind going again.) Our waitress was pleasant, the food was good, and we had a fine evening.

                    But I've been to Cobras & Matadors and the now-defunct Cobra Lily more frequently, and our service, while never terrible, has been very erratic from meal to meal. On one visit, the waitress could be doting; the next, our server could be clearly less-than-attentive because our table is the only one without a wine bottle on it. On another, we could have a wise-cracking waiter who, while never missing a beat with our order or in filling the water glasses, also never misses a lyric singing along with the music pumping over the sound system.

                    Arroyo comes up with fun concepts with sexy interiors and appealing food. What tends to break them - the "never again" factor that makes the room seem louder, the food seem worse, the prices seem more outrageous, the one factors that ends up souring every other factor - is the service. He would do well to learn the essentials of great service before it sullies the reputation of another of his ventures -- the way that, reading the negative notices here, it seems to be doing at 750mL.

                  2. you're better off bringing your own wine and going to the nearby Allegria. It's just down the street on Sunset in Silver Lake. Cash only and in a min-mall, but it's family run, festive and has giant portions of home cooked mexican food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: monkey323

                      I do love Allegria. Just hate their parking lot.

                    2. while i do agree that it is a pricey place for mexican food, i have never had anything but the best of service and times there so i was very surprised to see this post! i've actually recommended it to several people, have patroned it probably at least 15 times, and always make sure to take friends who are visiting from out of town there. it is a very comfortable atmosphere, cozy, and i love the patio. while some of the servers may not have the friendliest face forward, i've always been offered great service and great timing with both food and drinks (which as a server myself, means a lot!) my water glass rarely goes empty, and if it does it is refilled instantly. they have a great back-waiter staff who is definitely on top of both water and chips/salsa. i just noticed this post, and others are from 2004, so let me just say that over the last 4-5 years they have done something right in changing this around to make it as good as it is now, and to really make their name full of irony as intended. :)

                      1. Malo blows. I hate the place. I've been there several times because it is very close to friends and Akbar, but the food is bland at best and service ranges from indifferent to terrible. Also a very uncomfortable loud room.

                        1. I had the same bad experience many times at Malo, including on a night when it wasn't busy. For some reason I kept giving them another chance before finally learning my lesson.

                          As an alternative, I went to the new Loteria Grill location in Hollywood recently. Granted, it's in the middle of the nonsense that is Hollywood Boulevard, but the food was great, obviously what Malo wishes it could be. Despite the place being packed, the hostess got us a spot at the bar quickly. The service was quick and charismatic, and the chef even walked past to ask us how everything was, and to let him know if they "messed anything up," (far from it).

                          Or, for something more straightforward on the food front, I love the new Mission Cantina next to Delancey. A small, simple menu, but they obviously use quality ingredients. Also, the tequila selection is vast and they're more than happy to walk novices like me through some of the choices.

                          It's not the easiest place to get to, what with the total lack of parking in Hollywood, but it's certainly worth a trip on the Metro.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Rossi76

                            What is the cross street for Mission Cantina, and how far is it really from the Vine Street station, or is it closer to the Western Avenue station?

                            1. re: carter

                              Mission Cantina is at Sunset and Bronson (by the Arby's). It's closer to the Vine station but it also has decent street parking in the area. Try the nachos.

                          2. This is one of my favorite places so it pains me to hear you had such a bad experience. I love their food and think it's really good quality and very reasonably priced. Their guac rocks and their burnt habanero salsa is so good I want to bathe in it. Plus they make their own chips and their drinks are super-strong. Yes, they have crochety waitstaff but most restaurants in SL do, so...

                            1. sounds like you had a gnarly experience. although i completely agree with you on the size of the glasses. i always want to order like 4 cokes at a time cos i empty the glass in two sips. the place is actually great. it's basically the default spot for me and my family. it just happens to do the trick for us. the wait staff are very friendly to us - most of them know our orders by heart etc etc. i've brought people from all over the US and the world to malo, and 99.99% of those people have loved it. that said, if you don't like the style of mexican that malo serves, then allegria or the million other mex spots around the east side will suit you better. PS: the person who commented that the dining room is too loud: totally agree with you. i've had screaming dinners there too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dangerjeff

                                Sorry to quibble, but what do you mean by "east side"? Thanks.