"Ciudad Downtown"



"My Baby Blues"


"Chaya Can Stand Under my Umbrella"



"Barney's Beanery"

"The Cat & Fiddle"

"Nic's Martini Lounge"


"Six Degrees of Belmont"

"The Hudson"

"The Lobster"


"Been There, Den That"

"La Boheme"

"St. Felix"

"Ciudad Downtown"


Dear Love,


Do you know what last Thursday was? It was the second Thursday of the month and that means it was Downtown Art Walk! Finally, my schedule aligned itself so I could go this time! A fabulous evening that had to start with a downtown happy hour, but where? I still don’t know downtown LA all that well, which is silly because I used to work there. I went to God for advice, in this case, God was my MacBook Pro. Ciudad! I had never been and it was rated one of Downtown LA’s best Latin/Mexican restaurants for 2009 and the head chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, were featured on Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales.” This happy hour was a sure bet.

After an always interesting Metro ride from Hollywood, my roommate Marina and I got off at the 7th street station and walked to Ciudad. There are few things I love more than walking in cities in the late afternoon in the whispers of fall. True, fall for us Angelenos just means less light and a slight temperature decrease, but whatever, the spirit is the same all over and it makes me joyful.

“That’s nice,” I thought as I heard live Spanish guitar coming from the outdoor patio of Ciudad. Although, I think it was too loud because no one was actually sitting outside.
The moment we walked in we were greeted very enthusiastically by the host, “Are you ladies joining us for happy hour?” How did he know!? We took one of the high top tables next to the window where we could see the guitar player, but not have to shout over his instrument. The perfect compromise.

Our server brought out some chips and salsa while we sized up the menu and I managed to get out the words “One mojito please,” before he dashed off to his next table. The service was already off to an efficient start.

Both of us being huge Mexican food fanatics we couldn’t wait to dip our chips. We dipped, crunched and chewed. Great red salsa, smooth consistency and much flavor...but wait, why is this chip taking so long to chew? Once the salsa had been swallowed away, we realized a concerning truth. The chips were stale. We each took another one, this time sans salsa. Yep, stale chips. I don’t think anything can be worse than stale tortilla chips! Oh good, I saw my drink coming.

My lips hugged the black mojito straw as I cleared my palate. I’ve had many a mojito in several places on this globe, including a mean one in Chicken TacoLondon’s West End, believe it or not, but there was something off about this one. It was served in the same kind of glass as my water and the only evidence of muddled mint leaves were a few green specs swirling at the bottom of the glass. It tasted more sour than anything else. Did the bartender make the mojito with margarita mix? That’s what it tasted like.

What had lured me to Ciudad for happy hour, besides it being downtown and having a decent reputation, were the $3.00 tacos. I ordered three: chicken, carnitas, and crispy potato, hoping they would taste so amazing that the stale chips and sour mojito would be forgiven and forgotten. This wish almost came true. The carnitas? Tender, seasoned meat. No complaints. Crispy potato? I wish I had ordered two. CarnitasThe sweet and spicy corn salsa in combination with the avocado cream sauce dressing was one of the best salsas I’ve ever had at a Mexican restaurant. The flavors of the salsa and the texture of the potatoes suited each other nicely. The chicken? Not so much my favorite. I prefer shredded chicken because I think it holds flavor and moisture better. This chicken was chopped and the meat was too tough and dry. I wish I had something to say about the carne asada!

Potato TacoI can’t say that the experience here was completely bad, because I did enjoy a few things about it, but as happy hours go, if you’re serving a mojito that I can’t finish then you’ve got some work to do. Maybe Ciudad is meant for dinner and not drinks. As long as you screen the chips and skip the mojito, you might enjoy it completely...

xx, Tara