Chichén Itzá | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Chichén Itzá

photo by Anne Fishbein

If there’s a greater source of piggy pleasure in L.A. than the glorious pile of cochinita pibil at Chichén Itzá, we’ve yet to come across it. Think of all the clichés that attach themselves to descriptions of good meat — tender, juicy, dripping with flavor — and then apply it in your mind to a mound of shredded, slow-cooked pork, topped with magenta pickled red onion and nestled against fluffy white rice and hearty frijoles negros. The stand in the back of Mercado la Paloma in Historic South-Central is undoubtedly the most celebrated L.A. establishment serving Yucatecan cuisine, and for good reason. Owner Gilberto Cetina literally wrote the book on the food of the region (Sabores Yucatecos: A Culinary Tour of the Yucatán, which you can buy at the restaurant), and Chichén Itzá serves up some specialties here that are hard to find anywhere else. Get a feel for the mixed heritage of the Yucatán with the Lebanese-tinged kibi, or try the agua de chaya, made from the leafy green chaya plant. Enjoying all this in the bustling, colorful Mercado is a plus, and makes for one of L.A.’s great dining experiences.— Besha Rodell