Malo is, in my humble opinion, the quintessential hipster Mexican restaurant and bar you figured you’d find in LA. I appologize if the word “hipster” prompted a groan in annoyance, BUT, their effort to make a cool and unforgettable dining experience does not go un-noted. You wont walk in and walk out in disgust or intimidation, quite the opposite, you’ll walk in to an inviting and unique layout that is unlike any other restaurant, dark wood, cozy and dim candle lit lighting, interesting textured red wallpaper, all coupled with very small hints that it is indeed a mexican restaurant. The only giveaways I was able to notice were the little red candles on every table, seems like a Mexican restaurant thing to me, and the fact that they were called “Malo”, which you may or may not know means “bad” in Español. (Come on thats funny, and so LA.) Malo caught on to the fact that if you’d like to run a successful hip restaurant here, make your sign ambiguous and damn near impossible to find, or give your place an ironic name.
I’d actually frequented Malo quite a bit while I was still in college, so yes in other words I would drive the 30+ miles from Orange County just to come hang here and pretend I was one with all the incredibly hip people of Silverlake, ya know, just goin’ to Malo to have some tacos. Well that and to be honest I’d drive all that way just to have a basket of their chewy chips. I loved and still love going for the overall experience, it truly is as “LA” as dining gets.
I’ll never forget my first visit, as it was one of my first dining experiences in LA in general, I remember thinking “sh*t I really should have thought more about this outfit, and sh*t that’s Perez Hilton sitting across from me.” Everyone in there was exactly how you’d imagine people in LA looking and dressing, making me wish I’d reconsidered my outfit as each pair of heels and every bangle waltzed by; not to mention all the incredibly good looking men. And of course to top it off, I was amongst a celebrity, at least to me he was a celebrity. I mean in comparison to Orange’s celebrities who included cracked out homeless people who lived in the town circle, Perez was “A list” as far as I was concerned.
One very positive, very enticing aspect to Malo’s overall appeal is their beverage menu which features several variations of Margaritas (yes!). I must admit I have tried a few, but the Organic Margarita is my go-to; organic just meaning they use fresh lime juice and agave nectar, nothing too crazy so don’t worry, you’re not gettin’ all uppity if you order one. Besides their margaritas they also offer red AND white sangria, both of which are as authentic as sangria you might find in Spain and equally as delicious, I’d go so far as to say they make the best Sangria in LA.
Besides the surface crap of a restaurant, like great decor, great ambiance, and a liquor license, they actually make incredibly good food, notably, the infamous chewy chips. Now you either love them or you really don’t see what the fuss is all about; all they are is just half fried tortilla chips but for whatever reason they taste so much better. So not only does Malo offer not one but two kinds of chips, they also have several salsas and guacamole to stuff yourself with before you can even get to the main events. If you can make it past the baskets of chips, most of us Angelenos come here for the tacos. It’s the perfect place to try things, as you will want to once you see the menu, so get a few tacos and share the carnitas pancake (TO DIE FOR), beans, rice, or ceviche with the rest of the table.
Since my first visit so long ago not much has changed with my overall experiences at Malo. I still want to take everyone who visits LA there if they’re craving Mexican, I still dream about chewy chips on the reg, and when I go I still see celebrities and I’m never disappointed with the food. Silverlake is the epicenter of hip, and Malo is the perfect place to experience it first hand. Put your most adventurous fashionable outfit on, and prepare yourself for a filling and fabulously hip night out on Sunset in Silverlake.