The high-ceilinged space is simply decorated yet welcoming.
Plenty of high-style Mexican food is flooding into Downtown right now, but what's the rest of L.A. to do? Assuming you're ready to brave Hollywood Blvd. (don't try this on Oscar weekend), the answer is to eat at Loteria Grill. No, not the little stand that's been one of Farmer's Market's best bets for several years now, but the big new one with a full liquor license just up the street from Musso & Frank. The menu is similar to one at the stand -- largely tacos, tostadas, sopes and burritos with mostly flavorful fillings like cochinita pibil and nopalitos. At lunch Tuesday, there was a special of shrimp tacos in a spicy Chile Morita sauce, and these babies were just simple and delicious. Fresh shrimp with a chile kick in a homemade tortilla -- this dish didn't need anything molecular to make it sing.
One friend had Enchiladas Suizas (above) with the vegetarian zucchini and roasted corn filling; also clean and zingy. Another friend's chile relleno duo was a touch less successful; the ancho chile was a bit too chewy, the plantain filling of the other not quite as compelling. Crunchy jicama salad (below) with chipotle dressing was also delightful in the mouth; I'll be making this one at home for sure. Even the black beans, usually an afterthought, were savory and rich in some superior way, and the smoky, creamy salsa with the free (take that, Malo!) tortilla chips was also a bonus.As the photo up top shows, there's a good selection of tequilas at the bar. And you know, I don't really care if it's 40 or 100 kinds, or whether there's a tequila sommelier -- basically, what you want in a Mexican restaurant is a solid margarita and food made with some attention and care. And that's just what you get at Loteria Hollywood. But I shudder to think what it's like on a Saturday night when the clubgoers come out.
Tip: At lunchtime, there's no valet and Hollywood parking meters are pricey now, but one block north on Yucca, there's unlimited free parking.