Friday, March 04, 2005

Have fun, get a Yucatan: Mercado La Paloma

In junior high, "Have fun, get a tan" was the default yearbook inscription...oh never mind. It's too rainy for a tan, but these days it's more fun to find an excellent new place to eat, anyway. Mercado La Paloma is a community development project just south of Downtown, just east of USC. An old factory remodeled into a multiculti food court, it's a terrific place for a quick gastronomic tour of Mexico. At Chichen Itza, I sampled the Yucatan dishes including a tangy, spicy orange/jicama salad, a moist chicken tamale and a meltingly rich cochinita pibil (stewed pork) taco.

Left, tamale; right, pibil taco
These three dishes came to a grand total of $5.75. For another $1.50, I had two scoops of homemade Oaxacan ice cream: smoked milk and tuna (cactus fruit) at a stand which also offers smoothies and traditional Oaxacan dishes. Another stand offers huevos rancheros at breakfast and huge, tempting looking shrimp cocktails as well as several types of tamales, tacos and seafood dishes. There's also a Thai stand, a burger grill and a Mexican bakery, but Chichen Itza's Yucatan fare seems the most imaginative of the bunch. Highly recommended, and cheap too. The Mercado is open every day from 8 am to 6:30 pm. and it has a free parking lot.
Mercado La Paloma
3655 S. Grand Ave.
(231) 748-1963