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Mar 22, 2009 04:22 PM

Yxta Downtown

Hubby had decided we had to try this Yxta spot downtown.

I was none too thrilled when we pulled up – housed in a spectacularly ugly mini mall at 6th and Central, Yxta is a dumpy looking, gruel-colored hunk of concrete. I love a good hole in the wall, but this place is alarmingly large, spectacularly lacking in character and comes complete with a mega tacky “Now Open!” plastic thingy slung across its front. “Man,” thought I, “This place better serve booze.”

We go inside; I feel a little better. The interior is brick and tile and lined with eye-catching art. The light fixtures are exquisite. There’s a bar. And even though the place is two-thirds empty, it’s welcoming and casual and the wait-staff seems relaxed….no smell of desperation in the air…yet.

We order drinks. Hubby has the classic margarita. I order the escabeche martini with gin. The chips arrive – they’re warm and crispy; the salsa’s fresh and zingy. And then I see our drinks arrive and that warm, fuzzy feeling I always get when we’re at some place I feel is about to reveal itself as really, really special, comes sweeping over me. My martini (boozy to the rafters and brimming with at least half the daily allowance of veg) is heaven. Any sailor returning to shore should be administered this upon arrival.

We began with tostadas with sashimi grade tuna. They arrive with alarming speed, which makes me nervous. I needn’t have worried. First off, holy generous portion size, second, they’re not kidding when they say sashimi grade. Not a whiff of fish here – just pure, gorgeous, perfect tuna – I ate the fried onion topping separately.

For the entrees, we ordered one of the sweet shrimp dishes – Camarones de Ajillo. We’d guzzled an incredible sweet shrimp sashimi special at Shin Sen Gumi in Torrance the night before, and figured we may as well continue a winning trend.

Honestly, this is a dish that makes a restaurant. This dish is INSANE. It seems…French?! So unctuous, so rich, so deeply in your face flavorful, this dish…it has my undying love. But share it. That’s my advice. It’s intense. We shared the carnitas simultaneously and welcomed the more muted, earthy flavors to balance out the extravagant flavor.

And then we made a mistake…kind of. We ordered the flan; it’s called pineapple flan actually which is unfortunate because anything involving pineapple sounds wholly unappetizing unless you’re on vacation. Anyhoo, I pictured some light-as-air, caramel goodness and what turns up is a) ENORMOUS and b) has the texture of the richest cheesecake ever. Delicious? Yes! But prepare to wear baggy pants for the next 48 hours – a party of four could easily share this sucker. We asked what the secret was. The waiter scuttled off and returned with some empty, opaque explanation involving condensed milk. I called BS. He finally admitted the chef would not reveal the recipe. Whatever. It’s the sweet shrimp I’m coming back for.

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  1. Your experience mirrors mine exactly. If iPhones supported copy/paste now instead of June, I'd link to my thoughts, but search for "review yxta" and you should find it. The flam is ridiculous. You could feed a family of six that dessert. Next time try the al pastor, which is shockingly awesome.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Went back last night to try the al pastor -- tender, juicy, fab! But what up with this place and pineapple?! Now I know pineapple plays a role in the cooking process but much like I don't want a bunch of orange segments in my conchita pibil, I don't want cubes of pineapple in my al pastor. We also tried the vegetarian dish -- Calabacitas, sp?. I never usually order the vegetarian dish but I'm slightly concerned about my risk of scurvy at the moment due to two weeks of meat and potato dining so I thought I'd sling some veggies down there for good measure. I was a bit put off when it arrived; it looked like a mess of diced veg spooned over rice but I have to say I was very presently suprised - diced Mexican zucchini, grilled corn, crema fresca, queso cotija all served over lime rice with a side of beans. As with my previous visit, the flavors seemed almost French, there's a wonderful richness going on. As I was feeling very saintly for ordering the veggie dish we added a side of the Chipotle Mashed Potatoes and WOW -- ultimate comfort food, generous portion, piping hot, perfectly mashed and far better than the Loteria version. And on the drinks front, the blood orange cocktail is an absolute winner - - a great deal of thought has gone into the drinks here and they're definitely competing with my current Downtown favorites: the French 75 at Association and the Dealer's Choice with gin at Church and State.

      1. re: toothsome

        They are pineapple-heavy but in this case it's traditional to have a little bit of pineapple in tacos al pastor -- the idea being that you lop off some pork from the trompo and then lop off a bit of the pineapple that's supposed to sit on top of the trompo.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Point taken; I guess my issue is the amount -- when you come away from every bite tasting pineapple chunk it robs that wonderful meat of the spotlight. Perhaps they were just a bit heavy-handed with it last night.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            Can you get the pineapple on the side or substitute guava preserves with fresh cream cheese? ;-) Actually, that blood-orange cocktail sounds like a good pairing with the cochinita pibil.

            And these reviews sound great -- thanks Ubergeek and toothsome. I can't wait to try the place.

            1. re: sbritchky

              might just have to try this place out