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Nov 22, 2004 08:42 PM

Cha Cha Cha's

  • l

On Saturday we ate at Cha Cha Cha's on Virgil in Silver Lake. We had the pulled pork and I've got to tell you that both of us were sent into orbit. It was so delicious and really unforgettable. It came as a complete surprise to me that I enjoyed this so much. Did I get lucky on Saturday night, or is Cha Cha Cha's good?

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  1. We go for lunch a lot. For a while it began to seem dated, but lately it has gotten interesting again. Fresh Carribean takes on what have in L.A. become overly heavy Mexican traditionals. The menu seems newly exotic. Plantains, exquisite black beans, Jamaican spices, and sour cream on soups, etc. It almost seems new after all these years.
    Maybe in view of the current paucity of new ideas it's time to try this one again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Griller141

      If I knew it would guarantee my "getting lucky" afterward, I'd eat there more often!

    2. Well, sounds like you got luckier than we did. Hubby and I went about over a year ago, before they redid their adjoining room. I really wanted to like the place since it was in our 'hood and so easy to access.

      As usual, they were busy that weekend night so we waited for a good 30 min. for a table. As we were sitting in the waiting area, which was just a couple of steps from the sidewalk, a girl nearby belts out this high-pitched scream. A good-sized white rat had scurried by her foot. Hubby and I looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders, and took another sip of our sangrias. We don't scare that easily and figured that we were so close to the street that the incident was benign.

      Maybe we should have left since the food turned out to be rather disappointing. The ceviche tasted like the seafood had been pre-cooked and drowned in a thick, ketchupy sauce before they threw it into their gimmicky coconut shell bowl. I love paella and got suckered into ordering their version, which was pretty bad. Meats didn't taste fresh and seemed like they had not been steeped in the plain yellow rice at all. Forgot what hubby got but his dish was more edible than mine.

      Really, the best thing about that place was the sangria! It was really good and not your typical watered down tropical punch. Service was fine. Although I can definitely appreciate a funky place, the adjoining room that we were in felt like nothing more than a very dark shack (it's probably improved now).

      What really solidified our opinion about the bad food: I don't know why, but I took the half uneaten portion of my paella to go (thinking it might come into it's own in a day?) and left it in the car for about an hr. during our next stop. When we returned, the car reaked of such a foul odor that I tossed the container out at the nearest trash can. Never had that happen before.

      On a bright note, I did try CCC in Encino for a weekend brunch. The experience was totally different; I esp. remember the yummy caramelized plaintains. It was kind of empty at that time, but it's much more spacious and cohesive in decor than the Los Feliz branch. I would go to the Encino one again.

      1. Been a favorite of mine since even before it was discovered by the critics back in 1986.

        1. Also a favorite of mine. Try the jerk chicken next time, it is the best I have ever had.

          1. We eat there often for brunch. I adore anything with their salsa negro -- the jerk chicken omlette is to die for, as are the camarones negros. I also love the hot and crisp, yet pillowy soft inside, rolls and butter that are served with brunch.

            5 Replies
            1. re: DanaB

              Haven't been since they closed the LB location, but the rolls are probably still just bolillos---ten for a dollar at most Mexican panaderias. They heat up very nicely at home.

              1. re: Christine

                Interestingly enough, the Long Beach location shared common ownership with the Virgil location for around one year, then was sold off with the buyers allowed to use the name, and copy as much of the menu as desired, yet not required to do so, and seldom had a Prado family member working in the kitchen. Likewise, the Encino location has had different ownership for over 10 years, but for quite a while a Prado family member was in the kitchen, but I think that has also come to an end.

                1. re: carter

                  That's interesting. I lived in Los Feliz before moving to LB and went to the Virgil restaurant in it's early days. The menu similarities led me to believe the two were more closely related.

                  Now it looks like the LB site will become "Cha Cha Cafe" or something close (I guess it's not exactly trademark infringement). I drove by quickly a couple weeks ago and it didn't look open yet.

                  1. re: Christine

                    The ABC web site indicated that the Aniles, husband and wife, I believe, are the owners, and have nothing to do with the Prados and call it Cha Chas, and maybe as you say they are changing it once again, but that location has always been very troublesome with the blue line train, a location in the middle of nowhere, etc.

                    1. re: carter

                      You're right about that: a lot of locations are troublesome in Long Beach. But some of the oddest ones survive. Like Frenchy's Bistro on an awful stretch of Anaheim. And there used to be an adult bookstore adjacent (or maybe that was the draw).

                      Anyway, it's a wonder that Cha Cha Cha lasted so long, and maybe it wouldn't have absent the connection with the franchise. I should just buy the building and move there; it's pretty cute.