Emily had breakfast at Lalo at the end of 2016. She stated that the babka she had was one of the best things she ate in 2016. That is a bold statement coming from Emily. Note to self..get a reservation there quickly.
We got there a few days later for dinner not breakfast. The place is located deep in Chinatown at Baynard. From the outside it just looks like one of the many run-down spots on Chinatown but open the door and peek in and everything changes. Modern, clean, bright and airy. The menu is not big and sharing is definitely the way to go. Here is the thing…Lalo is an assault on your senses.
At the start I was enjoying the heavy handed flavors that are creative and fresh but by the end I couldn’t tell one thing from the other. We began with the Vegan Chicharrones. I love these. Super crispy salt and vinegar crisps that are thick yet light and almost look like a huge pork rind but totally vegan. The dip underneath is a spicy flavorful hot sauce. A winner.
Tomatillo toast. Twice baked bread (think crostini) with thinly sliced brined tomatillos on top. Gets kind of mushy if you don’t dig in quickly.
Chili strawberries and rose peanuts. Dried strawberries and peanuts that are rolled in sumac, aleppo, smoked salt, rose water and pink peppercorns. Good bar food.
Black bean dip with chips. The chips are amazing. The beans are actually white beans mixed in squid ink and black garlic that is interesting but a tad salty.
Shisito peppers that were definitely undercooked and slathered with a pomegranate reduction and pomegranate seeds and bits of walnuts. Not a winner.
Brown goddess cucumber salad. A mole vinaigrette with mint and candied pepitas. I liked this. You need something to light to clean the heavy.
Green mole with roasted vegetables with a feta and hibiscus chutney. I really liked this and kept coming back for more. A great mixture of veggies and the sauce was just right.
Roasted eggplant with tahini and then topped with dried tuna sliced like carpaccio. Too many things happening here.
Carnitas with house flour tortillas. The carnitas were doused with white sauce and corn nuts. It was too much, too heavy and perhaps if you came and only ordered that you wouldn’t feel like your head was spinning.
Baby steak. A tiny 3.5 oz aged strip steak with a chili-hazelnut oil on top. Heavy handed and could have been perfect.
The pollo asado was simple and served with a green pineapple hot sauce. Chicken was perfectly cooked and just the right seasoning. I took this photo after everyone had dug in.
Squid stuffed with chorizo and hibiscus. Too heavy and too much.
Boquerones tostadas. I love boquerones. This is definitely creative with whipped butter and a carrot top salsa.
Could we try more? Dessert was essential. Young female pastry chef that is getting a lot of praise and well deserved. She took the babka and created bread pudding with a whipped creme fraiche over the top.
Plantain cream pie. The crust of corn nut cookies was incredible. Light crispy and crumbly at the same time. The pie was dulce de leche, goat milk and a tumeric fluff. Quite good.
There is an explosion of different cuisines in the city right now from Mexican to Chinese to Peruvian to Japanese. It is really great to see. Lalo reminds me a bit of Mission Chinese but for Mexican food. A bit overwhelming. They just opened so time will tell but next time I’d mix it up with some simple dishes – if you can find them – otherwise it is really an overwhelming assault on your senses. BTW…the service is fantastic.