YXTA COCINA MEXICANA
DOWNTOWN DESTINATION FOR MEXICAN CUISINE & COCKTAILS
Mexican food in Los Angeles can be a dicey situation. There are some many places to choose from, and to be honest, most of them tend to be average but hardly worth comparing to mom’s homecoming, if you’re lucky enough to have a mom that can throw down the real-deal Mexican comida. Hole-in-the-wall joints tend to be the best but if you want a nice night out, then chances are you’re either going to be shelling out big bucks for Gringo Mexican food or a lot of cash for mediocre fare. But luckily downtown L.A.’s Yxta Cocina Mexicana delivers quality Mexican cuisine and drinks for a great price.
Located in a shady part of town, right at the corner of 6th Street and S. Central Avenue, the area looks scary and I swear one night I saw the LAPD corner off a nearby block investigating a homicide, but rest assured Yxta offers free parking in a secured adjacent lot and inside the restaurant and bar offers a relaxed, welcoming environment. Sit down, take a load off, and enjoy a refreshing and stiff cocktail. Armed with an impressive list of quality tequilas, including my favorite Fortaleza, you’ll be sure to enjoy a fine, handcrafted drink, even if you go for the house margarita, which does not disappoint.
And take note that Yxta offers a great Happy Hour: Monday 4-9 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 4-7 p.m., Saturday 5-7 p.m. with $5 margaritas, $3.50 bottled and $4 draft beers, and $6 appetizers.
Yxta's bar pours over 50 premium silver, reposado, and añejo tequilas, in addition to creative cocktails like the indulgent Mexican Russian (Hangar One Vodka, Kahlua, horchata, cinnamon) and the Jamaica Margarita.
During our recent visit for dinner we started with a refreshing margarita, which led nicely with the light and airy Squash Blossom with Cheese that the kitchen brought out.
Plates at Yxta include Sopes, which are made with your choice of chorizo, tinga de pollo, carnitas, pastor or calabacitas; Empanadas with seasonal fillings; Tacos with handmade tortillas; mouth-watering chicken, steak and carnitas tortas; Enchiladas de mole; Salmon Creek slow-cooked carnitas; guacamole and salsa–all made fresh daily. Updated classics include Tostadas topped with sashimi-grade tuna; Mexican sweet shrimp taquitos, and Salmon in cilantro pesto. Sides dishes include chipotle mashed potatoes, grilled corn, beans from the pot, black beans, and Mexican and cilantro lime rice among other options.
We opted for the hearty and extremely tasty Tacos Dorados de Papa (Potato Tacos) made with spicy mashed potatoes, cabbage, crema fresca, queso fresco (fresh cream and cheese). These are first-rate tacos and they’re an item that you can’t find at every Mexican restaurant around town. A definite must-have dish.
The fresh Guacamole (avocado, red onion, cilantro) seems simple enough but it’s finger licking good. Most guacamole you get is hardly worth the hefty price they charge for it but this tastes fresh and really authentic as it should be.
If you’re still looking for sharable items, the Empanadas, with tinga de pollo, machaca, queso Oaxaca, crema fresca, salsa brava, are the way to go. A trio order of chicken, meat and cheese empanadas, it’s a nice filling dish for one or a great item to split amongst friends. As is the Rajas Poblanas made with poblano peppers, corn, queso fresco, tortillas.
Looking for a light and guilt-free menu item? You can’t go wrong with the Enchiladas de Verduras (Vegetable Enchiladas) made with spinach, mushrooms, corn, yellow mole, crema fresca, cilantro lime rice, frijoles negros. This is a standout order, and all things considered, it’s good for you too.
Want to venture to a house specialty item as an entree? The Camarones en Salsa de Cuatro Chiles (Shrimp with Four Chilies) prepared with Mexican sweet shrimp, cilantro lime rice, rajas poblanas is terrific. Not your typical Mexican restaurant plate either, it’s light, healthy and packs a great spicy kick.
While the Mexican Russian (Hangar One Vodka, Kahlua, horchata, cinnamon) makes for a great dessert, as does a nice sipping shot glass of Fortaleza, the Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding) with a scoop of ice cream really hits the spot and is a great way to end any evening.
Yxta is located at 601 S. Central Avenue. Hours: Monday-Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday-Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday. Parking: $2 valet 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free parking after 3 p.m. Call 213-596-5579.