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Aug 14, 2011 10:13 AM

Mas Malo - Good looking, loud and where's the flavor?

Went to Mas Malo last night before a concert in Pershing Square. It's not the sort of place I would normally go for Mexican food, but it was near the concert and the pictures I'd seen of it looked attractive. (I don't much care for Malo on Sunset.)

The place is very fun and nice looking, loud (though probably 20 decibels or so less loud than Bottega Louie across the street.) The service was great, the house margaritas were very good and at $9 each somewhat reasonably priced for the sort of place it is. The chips were good as were the tomatillo and the tomato-serrano salsas (though I do object to paying $4 per salsa - maybe if you got your choice of one for free then had to pay for others if you wanted them, I could see that.)

As for the food, it wasn't bad so much as it was flavorless. We split the Mexican chopped salad - really dull, we had to ask for extra limes, salt and pepper to bump up the dressing, shredded iceberg lettuce - really? She had the Oaxaca Shrimp with pasilla chile, chipotle & creme which was about as bland a dish as I have tasted in a very long time. I had the Carnitas - which were almost kind of sort of nearly okay, but wouldn't make it into my top 25 carnitas in town, not even close - maybe if I was served them in, oh, say Anchorage, Alaska they would have sufficed. Also mostly flavorless and with a somewhat soggy texture. We got both corn and flour tortillas that I'm pretty sure were store bought - and not the kind you can buy at a Vallarta market or somewhere like that, more like Von's or Ralph's on the West Side.

Could be that I might go back with friends to sit at the bar, drink and eat chips and salsa, but I sure won't bother going there to eat a meal again. Concert was good, though. Michelle Shocked - who apparently lives in downtown - puts on a sort of fun, easy-going show. There was an Italian Deli food truck parked nearby that looked like it might be okay.

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  1. It's ok for a quick business lunch, esp. if you want to impress with a cool decor.

    But real down home Mexican food resides points East and South of Pershing Sq.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Yep, I'm regularly at the much more down home, authentic and regional places to the east and south, was only at Mas Malo because it was convenient to the concert and I wanted to see the place.

      Mas Malo
      515 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

      1. re: estone888

        That's the key phrase right there, isn't it? "see the place"

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Sure is. The headliner on the bill at the Pershing Square concert we went to was Stan Ridgway - of Wall of Voodoo - who had just come from being treated to dinner at Perch - the new place overlooking downtown from on high. I haven't been there, but plan to go there for a drink to enjoy the view (I don't really have high hopes for the food - there's a great view, after all), but he described the food as "better to look at than to eat." I have no idea whether or not having done a truly magnificent version of "Ring Of Fire" once upon a time is enough to take his word on a restaurant - but there you have it.

    2. Most of the things I've had there are mediocre or just okay. But I've had a few tasty things too: the aguas frescas, the fried guero chilis (surprisingly spicy), and the sopapillas.

      1. i am not a fan of mas malo, but what's wrong w/ the iceberg lettuce in a salad?

        2 Replies
        1. re: andytseng

          Shredded iceberg lettuce is pretty dull and tasteless compared with other varieties of lettuce, in my book. It's cheaper than other types of lettuce, and stays crisper longer, which is the main reason it gets used other than in salads where it specifically makes sense - like those wedge things with gloppy blue cheese or ranch dressing on them and lots of red onions that on occasion are just what I want - but a rare occasion.

          1. re: estone888

            We buy the three heads of iceberg at Costco if it looks good and just rip pieces off the head and eat it for a crunchy, cool, sweetish snack. Sometimes a little salt on top. I don't expect to get just iceberg when I order a salad in a restaurant, though.