Food Bites: Avoid the Malo Scene. Go for Bueno Brunch.

The Eastsider would like welcome writer and Mount Washington resident Valentina Silva as a regular contributor writing about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her new blog, Eastside Food Bites.

Story and photos by Valentina Silva

I’ve always liked Malo, but I really don’t like the crowd the Silver Lake restaurant and bar  has been attracting. Sounds snobby, I know, but the last time I was there on a Thursday night, I had to endure a table of loud/flashy/drunk executive types, who harassed the waitress, hit on other diners and made a general ruckus. It’s depressing — like when a band you like becomes popular  and suddenly you have to share them … with people you don’t like.

The problem is that I don’t want to give up on Malo. Even after all these years, I still crave their Ground Beef and Pickle Tacos (pictured) more than is dignified. But, if I’m spending more than a few bucks and a few minutes in a restaurant, I also crave a good vibe. And all the Habanero Creme Salsa in the world won’t make up for a bad one.

So, what’s my solution?

Brunch. I’ve been a few times now, and it’s freaking delightful. The atmosphere is laid back, service is extra attentive, and there are Bloody Marias to boot! Could you ask for more on a Sunday morning? There are even open tables on the patio. It’s completely different from the nighttime Malo.

Another high-point is this pozole dish that’s on the brunch menu. It’s a tasty rendition of the popular soup, complete with poached eggs—like Mexican Hotpot. Lots of smoky flavor. My grandfather’s wife, a pretty traditional Mexican cook, said about this dish: “I don’t know why there are eggs in my p0zole, but I like it.”

My grandfather is a Mexican dude from LA, and he was impressed by Malo’s salsa. So, maybe the astronomical price (4 for $12!) is worth it.

You can get the Cucumber Tomato Salad at night, too, but the orange-flavored dressing works better in the AM.

(Note: I didn’t attend Malo’s recent blogger brunch.  It doesn’t surprise me that they would be trying to promote brunch though because it’s pretty empty. However, that’s why I like it!)


  1. Great new feature, great first post Valentina! Look forward to reading more. Hope they will cover a variety of styles/price ranges etc. It gets old reading about the same old expensive places in other reviews/websites.

    In the meantime, can’t wait to try this brunch!

  2. Thanks for the tip. I’m totally there Sunday morning. Had no idea they were open for brunch.

  3. I just went to brunch there today and it was EMPTY. It was also extremely tasty (and mmmm, sangria.) Will definitely be going again.

  4. My wife and I are Mexican and went to Malo to see what the hype was all about. The restaurant lives up to its name and is the fricken worst food. And it’s overpriced to boot. There has not been this much sarcasm in a name since Evian (what’s the name backwards for those who don’t know) was bottled. Malo is still Spanish for bad!

    P. Uttoh

  5. To be fair, Malo describes itself as “Chicano” food (i.e. Mexican-American), not necessarily Mexican food. At least, that is what its sign says. I am Mexican American and I think the food at Malo is hit and miss. The chips are almost always soggy (I don’t get that), but some of the salsas are delicious. The potato tacos are too die for. And the pozole is very good, but definitely a surprising improvisation on the original Mexican version, as the author described above.

    Anyhoo, if you go to Malo expecting authentic Mexican food, you will definitely be dissappointed. They are not trying to be authentic. They are trying to be upscale Chicano. Nonetheless, if you want classic Chicano/Mexican-American food (i.e. not upscale), I can think of a few really good places in Boyle Heights that do it better than any place on this side of the LA River. I suggest Al & Beas; Ciros; and even, El Tepeyac — those places are classic, old school, Chicano, Pocho-food and they are worth it!!

    One last thing about Malos. The first time I went to Malo (quite a few years ago), my friend asked the blond waitress to explain what Chicano food meant, and she couldn’t explain it. (I had to explain it to him.) Anyway, that incident was very disappointing. The owner, is Mexican American, but he apparently did not prepare his wait staff, …

  6. I agree with Xochi. I wouldn’t go to Malo if I wanted authentic Mexican–that’s what Guelaguetza is for. However, if I’m in the mood for Chicano food, Malo is a good choice. I also enjoy El Tepeyac, Ciros, El Arco Iris, and La Abeja. We’re lucky we live in LA because we can have it all.

  7. My buddies and I went to Malo one evening and what a malo experience that was. We entered the restaurant and thought there would be a hostess to seat us. After waiting nearly 10 minutes still no hostess/host. So we turned and left and went to one of our regular, friendly places in Silver Lake. Don’t know why exactly we were left unattended for nearly 10 minutes…Was it because we are the wrong kinda brown people? Was it because we didn’t look hipster, scenester or gentrified enough? Was it because we’re gay and Latinos? Who knows. All I know is that pickles and tacos does not sound good together…heck, even Taco Hell Bell sounds appetizing. But lucky for me I still have a living 78 year old, old-school mother who makes tamales, mole, and chile rellenos to die for…Who needs Malo and pickled tacos and bland, dreadful “Mexican cuisine” a la Border Grill. Heck, it doesn’t even sound like Chicano food either. I enjoyed Malo before it was Malo…the happy hours at the bar were fun and full of people of all types and no ‘tude. Malo is just bad, no bueno, muy malo, sucky…sigh!

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *