Malo’s new menu goes beyond the taco

Queso Soyrizo/Photo by Valentina Silva

By Valentina Silva

Admittedly, I’ve been bored with Malo for a while. I used to go all the time, but eventually my enthusiasm waned. Of course, I still had love for the habanero and cream salsa and ground beef and pickle tacos, but neither kept me coming back to the Silver Lake restaurant. For that reason, news that Chef Robert Luna had re-vamped his menu caught my attention. And as luck would have it, I was invited to try it.

The verdict: I liked the new menu so much that I’ve already been back twice.

What I’ve always appreciated about Malo is that it doesn’t purport to be authentically Mexican. Instead, it’s a re-imagining of good old-fashioned L.A.-style Chicano comfort fare—cheesy enchiladas, hard-shell tacos, chewy chips,  sweet mole, etc. The new menu follows that line, but goes beyond its previous taco-centric limitations with a long list of starters, salads, and small plates.

Standouts include the Soyrizo Fundido, a decadently cheesy concoction that’s meant to be spooned onto thick pieces of bread. I preferred it as a chip dip. On the lighter, more nutritious side was the Kale & Seed Salad topped with flax and sunflower seeds, thick tomato chunks and pistachio dressing. Unexpectedly functional were the Kale Mole Enchiladas with Pumpkin. Mixing cheese and pumpkin shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.

Though not the centerpiece they once were, tacos still make a strong showing. The Pork Short Rib Adobo Taco is particularly good with its smoky tenderness while the Zucchini Blossom with Cheese Taco, made tangy with pickled onions, is an ideal vegetarian standby. Only one taco comes in an order now, but they’re more substantial than they used to be. Case in point is the Grilled Fresh Fish Taco with a hunky portion of cod.

The one drawback to the new menu is that its grandness tends to overwhelm, which could easily have the same effect as being too small: it could cause you to order the same thing over and over again. For instance, I found myself ordering the kale salad each visit even though the Spinach Salad with Avocado and Chicharron beckoned—too many choices always make me less adventurous, ironically. However, I’m sure in time, winner dishes will reveal themselves and maybe Chef Luna can pare it down a bit.

Until then, a pumpkin enchilada rut doesn’t seem like such a bad trap.


4326 W Sunset Blvd,
Silver Lake

Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.


  1. Are their Mondays specials back? That place is too rich for my blood.

  2. Yeah, Malo is waaay overpriced, overhyped, and mediocre. Tarascos has much higher quality food. The last time i dined at Malo, my food was sitting in a lake of grease, cradled in a cheap plastic burger basket. And at those prices, is it necessary to charge for chips and salsa? The East side has great Mexican food on every corner, take that shit to the West side, Malo.

    • I’m with you CozmicLady. Take that shit to the west side indeed.

      Plus, those are some weak ass margaritas. If you order from the bar, you’re okay, because you can look the bartender in the eye and s/he’s not going to outright screw you on the pour. But get your margaritas from the server and it’s mostly corn syrup, lime, and ice water.

  3. Bring back the $1 taco monday! was nice to have a few good spots in town doing a good monday deal, Dom’s monday supper or Malo’s was always a tough choice.

  4. I was told that they probably aren’t bringing back taco night. I heard it was quite a controversy.

  5. Drinks were still pricey, hard to believe they were losing money on that night but I guess possible.

  6. I was there last week, although I didn’t know the menu had changed until we sat down. For the most part, the new menu looked really great until I couldn’t find my beloved lobster tacos. I whined and complained like a 6 year old multiple times before settling on something good, but not as good as lobster tacos.

    I guess what I’m saying is that they need to bring back the lobster tacos. Yes, that’s definitely what I’m saying.

  7. It is a little greasy but like the food… and the drinks for that matter but yes it is pricey. They need to add tacos to happy hour and bring back taco night.

  8. I still miss LA Nicola.

  9. I don’t understand why they stopped Taco night. The place was packed and they were selling booze like it was going out of style. Now I drive past on Mondays and there are tumbleweeds rolling across the parking lot.

  10. Malo is terrible, I have no idea why it is ever busy. walk an extra block to El Chavo and get some good mexican food. The only thing at malo that I ever found edible was the cheesburger taco, that was pretty good but that was the only thing.

  11. Count me among the Malo fans. Admit that the drinks are overpriced (so much so I don’t drink there but eat there then go to Akbar) but the food prices seem fair to me for that type/quality of fare. I love El Chavo too, but with the knowledge that they are totally different types of food and sometimes I like to step it up for Malo rather than the heavy more old-fashioned fare at Chavo. The soft tortilla chips with that harbanero creme sauce are still one of my favorite things anywhere in town.

  12. Seems like a very generous review for a restaurant that has completely jumped the shark and disappeared up its own bloated ego. Used to love this place, and frequently brought visiting friends to eat there as a kind of gateway to the amazing latin cuisine on offer in the area. But now the prices have rocketed (an $8 taco is just unacceptable given the other choices out there) and the new menu is a joke. It’s structured as a memo from the chef to the owner and actually requires a key to translate. Our server had clearly dealt with a fair share of “new menu” criticism before we walked our sorry asses in and could only offer a half hearted “it’s fun and interactive” response, which smacked of management nonsense. This place blows, and shouldn’t be given free PR on a website visited by local residents who know better. Sorry.

  13. I generally don’t comment on this website but find it to be a great resource. This article however is off. The food is okay but way way over priced and almost every time I visit the service is TERRIBLE. The hostesses can be rude and the waiters indifferent. The only way i can eat there is to order at the bar get some tacos and the cheapest drink possible and get out fast.

    This place was a fun place to grab a bite but now it has denigrated into a tourist trap .

  14. Interesting.

    Valentina becomes “bored” with a restaurant and is somehow luckily invited back to try new menu fare and voila! “I’ve already been back twice!”. Who could have seen that coming?

    Our reviewer as usual seems to be a fan of overpriced, bloated, hipster-clogged eateries pushing out less than stellar fare. It’s just nice to see I’m not alone in my feelings on this one. Way to go, Eastsider readers. I’m not giving up on you yet!

  15. I liked it better when it was the “Cobalt Cantina”. They were uppity then, but packed with unpretentious food and drink and booty.

  16. Uh, Bento Box, I gave full disclosure. My boredom was elevated by the new menu, not the invite. I get invited to places all the time, and I rarely write about them. Plus, like I said, I’ve been twice on my own dime since. There’s no scandal here.

    • Uh, Valentina, no one mentioned anything in reference to a “scandal”. As a reader and follower of this site I get an opinion and my opinion on your reviews is that you tend to give glowing reports to overpriced, bloated, hipster-clogged eateries pushing out less than stellar fare. Maybe more time covering truly local places that offer inexpensive, great tasting fare and less time spent in overpriced, trendy spots and bloated, snooty, ridiculously overpriced pop-up’s of “friends” would make your reviews seem less “scandalous”?

      Who knows? Maybe those types of restaurants don’t have your e-mail addy to be able to send you invites?

  17. I think that’s a big generalization. I do reviews of different price points and of all levels of obscurity or non-obscurity. My few reviews include Garvanza’s, a family-owned business struggling to make it through their first year; Masacasa, an inexpensive cafe in a strip mall; Scoops, where 2 scoops of ice cream costs $2.90; and a loaf of olive bread from the farmers’ market.

    The pop-up you’re referring to was not put on by my friends–I’d never met those people in my life. They got my email from my website, where it is publicly listed. That meal was actually pretty great. Expensive? Yes, but high quality and not pretentious at all.

  18. Urban Taco Fabricators

  19. I really find the comments on the Eastsider to be in really poor taste and it is being hijacked by a bunch of neighborhood cranks that have nothing better to do than hide behind their keyboards and hammer away with vitriolic commentary that does nothing to better our community. Seriously, you should be ashamed of yourselves. I watched how everyone came unglued when Cafe Stella put up a wall, legally and on their property, to expand and create a place that seems welcomed. I think the menu changes at Malo are needed and wonderful. I think the new bar at Stella is amazing. I personally applaud businesses that put effort in to adding something to the community instead of phoning it in with mediocrity. Why is nobody up in arms about how bad and tired Mexico City is? If you don’t like something, don’t go. I don’t want to hear you screaming about how it is the end of the world though, are you 5 years old?

    And it seems a little funny how everyone would “go back” if they had $1 taco night again. It really feels and sounds just like my daughter’s temper tantrums. Maybe they should just give away free tacos like the Gold Room? I have eaten both the tacos there and at Malo. I am in the restaurant business, and if you can’t tell the difference or don’t understand what goes in to them, then you might as well eat at McDonalds every day because “cheap” is your only metric by which you judge food.

    I can’t be the only one that is ashamed of the commentary in our community! To be honest, it has the exact same tone as the right wing nutbag cranks that take over reasoned and considered commentary on other blogs and web sites. Or the entitled westsiders. If you hate everything so much, you should move to the south, or better yet the westside, you will find plenty of people like yourselves.

    Valentina, thank you for all of the reviews you do.. I find them to be honored and considered. And I am aghast that you are getting attacked for it.

    And DJ Bento Box, you are the dictionary definition of a Troll.

    • Ah, the post was about Malo not Mexico City. Mexico City is in Los Feliz, not Silver Lake. MC sucks too, always smells like cleaning products to me… But again, the post was about Malo.
      You’re in the restaurant biz?!?! Wow, I couldn’t tell by your post. Malo blows. Simple as that. The posts are simply honest, not “neighborhood cranks” if you don’t get that then it is no wonder your restaurant is failing.
      P.S. LMB

    • freddy,

      Being in the restaurant biz you should know “the salt brings out the sugar” baby! You cant have a comment board where everyone agrees about everything all the time! That would be BORING!!!! Sit back and take it for what it is; someone’s opinion! Enjoy the entertainment factor sweety! Enjoy the irony of you pointing out absurdity when you are being absurd with your “move to the west side/south rant” or your “sounds like right wing” stuff.

      If you can’t enjoy it, at least know you can’t control other peoples opinions…

      Oh and as Ms says, LMB

  20. If you’re looking for delicious mexican food and drink try Casita del Campo in silver lake on Hyperion! It’s been there 50 years, traditional fresh food, and the lime juice for the margaritas is fresh squeezed daily. Guava margaritas are in season, picked fresh from the owner’s backyard tree!

  21. It’s one thing to disagree with a review. Quite another to go on a vitriolic rant against someone who writes these articles as a labour of love. Here, here, why don’t we bury Valentina with bitterness and cynicism. I’d be way happier if there were no restaurant coverage on the eastsider at all.

  22. Actually Malo is in East Hollywood. will venture up there to try out the new chef.

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