Mas Malo, the "badder" DTLA sequel to the popular cantina in Silver Lake has a prime location, on the ground floor of the building that houses Seven Grand on 7th Street. The space is a former jewelry store and has double height ceilings and is landmarked. I was recently invited to check it out and was able to sample several of the dishes and cocktails.
Overall the dish I recommend most is the signature dish of the establishment, the ground beef and pickle taco. It is filling, and at only $4 is a value. The ground beef, pickles and shredded cheese is a homage to the classic cheeseburger. Stuffed into the fried shell and dipped into the Serrano salsa it is surprisingly delicious and a crowd pleaser.
To share, the Chicken in Mole Poblano ($16) is also quite good. The mole sauce is rich and complex and not overly sweet. While it may not be at the level of Guelaguetza, this is a dish I can heartily recommend and would order again. It is hard to not dip your chips into the mole; always the sign of a successful sauce.
The Medicina Latina with a chili salt rim was a highlight of the beverage menu. I thought the other cocktails I sampled were just ok. As they have 200 tequilas and mezcals on the list, exploring the deep list may be the optimal way to go. Unfortunately Mas Malo doesn't have sangrita to accompany the great tequilas.
Mas Malo carries the full Del Maguey line of mezcals, including the Pechuga, made with chicken breast. The photograph below is but part of one wall of the tequila vault. Reserving the vault for a tasting may be the best way to enjoy Mas Malo; it will certainly impress your friends.
Whether you are looking to sober up before or after a Seven Grand visit or are planning on having dinner and sampling the full menu, Mas Malo is a beautiful comfortable space with reasonable prices and a nice vibe. The ground beef and pickle taco has some ineluctable quality that just draws me in. Some things just can't be explained; they need to be experienced.
Mas Malo: 515 West 7th Street, DTLA | 213.985.4332 | http://masmalorestaurant.com