Holbox (Los Angeles, December 2018)


Well, I’m certainly not done with my reviews of meals in Delhi in December but thought I’d get started anyway with my reports from Los Angeles, where I met up with the missus and the brats after the end of my Delhi sojourn. As always, we ate out at least once a day. This was not our first meal out together on this trip but I want to start with it as I am writing this on a cloudy, damp Saturday in April and it feels good to recapture a bit of a much nicer Saturday morning in L.A in late December. And this meal at Holbox was one of our very favourite food outings.We spent the morning at the California Science Center—where you pay for all-day parking—popped out for lunch at Holbox, and then returned to spend the rest of the afternoon back at the Science Center and the African American Museum. A very good day.

Holbox opened in mid-2017. It is located in the Mercado la Paloma near Exposition Park. This is the same food hall that houses Chichen Itza, where we ate in December 2017. Indeed, it is the second venture of the Chichen Itza team. Where Chichen Itza focuses on the food of the Yucatán, Holbox is named for an island of the coast of the Yucatán and is more generally seafood-centered. The focus is on fresh fish and shellfish, cooked simply to accentuate flavours, and as often merely marinated and garnished. As at Chichen Itza and every other establishment in Mercado la Paloma, it is counter service: you place your order, take a number and sit down at one of the tables shared among the adjacent restaurants: your food is brought out when it’s ready and that’s the extent of the service. Unlike at Chichen Itza, there is also counter seating at Holbox. If it had been just the two of us, we would have been at the counter, but good luck getting our brats to sit still on counter stools.

We started out with an order of the yellowtail ceviche. This is available in two sizes; we got the small and it was plenty big for two people to share. We moved on to the almeja preparada, a giant surf clam, served on the half-shell with cocktail sauce etc. The clams are priced by the lb.— you select the one you want and are charged accordingly. We then split three tacos among the two of us: the wood-grilled yellowtail, the octopus (braised and fried), and the scallop (pan seared). All of this was bloody good. We then looked up and saw a picture of their aguachile on the screen thingy on which pictures of their menu rotate and could not resist getting an order of that as well. This took a while to come out—the kitchen had lost track of our order—but when it did it was perhaps the dish of the meal: slices of sweet scallop marinated with serrano chiles, cilantro and lime and served with avocado. So, so good, and in a portion size designed to prevent marital tension. If you’re wondering what the kids ate, we got them the bistec a la Yucateca that they’d loved at Chichen Itza on our last visit.

To take a look at the space and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much all of this cost, for thoughts on value and to see what’s coming next from Los Angeles.

This was, expectedly, not a cheap meal. Not counting the Chichen Itza dish we paid just about $75 for the lot. But for the quality of the seafood and the quality of the flavours it was well worth it. And portions were not tiny. If we still lived in Los Angeles we’d come here often. As it is, we are unlikely to not visit the Science Center or the Natural History Museum on every L.A trip till the boys grow out of them and so once a year will have to be enough for us.

Coming next from Los Angeles, another lunch at Raku, which was one of our absolute favourite outings on our previous trip. That’ll probably be next Sunday. Before that on the food front, there’ll be another Delhi report and another report from the Twin Cities’ South Metro.

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