Owner and Executive Chef Jimmy Shaw opened Loteria Grill as a stand in the Original Farmers Market. It was nestled in the middle of a buzzing culinary labyrinth. Despite the distraction of numerous food stands around it, Loteria is a favorite among market visitors, myself among them.
In 2008 Loteria opened a second location on Hollywood Boulevard in a grand space. Lofty windows, floods of light – this was a full-fledged restaurant. The stand still remains, but if you want a sit down dining experience the restaurant offers the same menu and the same quality.
Loteria has a great classic margarita, but if you are more adventurous than we are the restaurant offers countless tequilas to choose from. We stuck with the classic in pitcher form. The more the merrier!
As a starter, Loteria always offers chips with chipotle salsa. This salsa is amazing. It will be hard to stop yourself from devouring the whole basket and leave room for tacos. The tomatoes in the salsa are almost creamy with a mild heat and smokiness.
To start we ordered the chihcarrone de queso, also known as a cheese hat. As Jimmy explained to me, this is a larger version of the crispy, salty bits of cheese that ooze out of a quesadilla and cook on the griddle – everyone’s favorite bite. The queso is crunchy and savory and it has the same appeal as tortilla chips. Bite after bite you can’t stop yourself.
The cochinita pibil taco is unlike any other: Bold zesty flavors cradled in a soft corn tortilla, dripping with sweet sauce.
Delicious tacos aside, one of the main reasons I love Loteria is the flan de cajeta. It is made with goat’s milk that adds a nutty depth to the flan. As a perfect flan should be, this flan is velvety with exuberant caramel flavor.
On this visit I discovered what could best be described as the most incredible union of desserts – cake layered with flan. This is a sweet and spongy vanilla cake that is layered with thick creamy flan and topped with a caramel frosting. It is miraculous. The pairing was glorious.