Bryan and I had a spontaneous outing at the Original Farmers Market today, located at 3rd Street and Fairfax. While we originally needed to buy a gift for an upcoming wedding shower, it was lunchtime and we were starving. Hunger trumps shopping any day, so we detoured into the Farmers Market and started surveying the scene.
I'm embarrassed to say that despite being a native Angeleno, my trips to the Farmers Market have been few and far between. My mother disagrees with this statement, saying she took me to the Farmers Market on a nearly regular basis when I was a child. It doesn't matter who's right; the fact is that I don't remember having ever been to or, more importantly, eaten at one of the dozens of Farmers Market stalls. Today that streak would come to an end.
Weaving through the narrow aisles imparts a bit of sensory overload; do you go for Bryan's Pit BBQ? Loteria Grill's Latin flavors? Monsieur Marcel's French bistro cuisine?
Whatever you're in the mood for, there is something for everyone. Today, Bryan and I settled on Loteria Grill. Our friends, Annie and Brandon, have been telling us about their love for Loteria Grill for a long time, so we decided there was no better time than the present.
At first glance, Loteria Grill looks like any other Mexican food joint. But take a closer look at the menu and you'll see that it's anything but. No greasy cuchara (that would be "spoon") here.
Instead, Loteria Grill serves up a wide variety of authentic Latin soups, from Pure de Calabaza Y Elote (banana squash and corn) to Pozole Rojo (Pork & Hominy). Their tacos, tostadas and burritos, while offering the traditional choices of beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or vegetables, don't fall victim to heavy, oily, overly-seasoned of so many Latin restaurants across Southern California. Their chicken, for example, comes in three fantastic, slow-cooked versions: Mole Poblano, an extremely complicated yet flavorful sauce made from more than 20 ingredients; Tinga, chicken stewed with chipotle peppers and Loteria's home made chorizo sausage; and Pippan Rojo, a spicy pumpkin seed and peanut sauce served with finely chopped onion. I had the Mole Poblano, and as you can see from the photos below, Bryan and I had already made it halfway through our meals before remembering to take photos. Sorry about that. But they were great!
Bryan got nachos, a simple yet delicious choice. House made tortilla chips were topped with cheese, diced onions, pico de gallo, black beans and shredded chicken. He got a side of guacamole, which was also great. We both love excellent guacamole and are admittedly high maintenance about the "perfect" ingredients. My guacamole recipe is a blog for another time, but suffice to say this guacamole was just chunky enough, well-seasoned and topped with pico de gallo. Bryan was happy.
While we had a quick lunch and only got a one item each, Bryan and I thought Loteria Grill was great. While we ended up getting all our shopping done, we'll definitely keep it in mind for days we want to procrastinate facing the crowds at The Grove.