Usually, Downtown LA successfully fulfills whatever type of food my hungry tummy desires. Usually.
In terms of Mexican food, on one end of the DTLA spectrum, we have Chano's, which meets all your "super cheap and delicious but terrible for you" needs and, on the other end, we have Rivera, which LA Magazine named one of the "Best New Restaurants." There is a decided dearth, however, of yummy, mid-priced Mexican food, which is why I was excited to try The Charcoal Grill with my friend Josh and one of his friends.
Located on 2nd Street, The Charcoal Grill is an interesting mix of take-out and sit-down dining. For example, you order your food at the register before you sit down and grab your own utensils, but staff checks in while you're eating and clears your plates at the end of the meal.
Our trio started off with an order of guacamole and chips ($6.99). When the platter arrived with these technicolor chips, I sighed. Guess our Mexican experience at The Charcoal Grill was not to be an authentic one. Although the guacamole was made with fresh avocados, it was disappointingly bland and left none of us particularly impressed.
Stephanie ordered Bean Sauce Enchiladas served with sour cream, cotija cheese, guacamole and grilled scallions ($9.95), which were weighed down by the heavy bean sauce and were also fairly bland.
Josh opted to make his own burrito with sirloin, refried black beans, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream (although they seem to have left out the sour cream) ($8.65). Although the green sauce wasn't bad, the dish's potential was limited by the generic rice which made up most of the burrito's heft.
I ordered a watermelon agua fresca ($2.75), which was crisp and fresh and ended up saving the night for me because...
the Viva Mexico plate with a sirloin taco, chorizo taco and a quesadilla ($9.95) was also a let-down. The strangest part of the dish was the sirloin taco, which tasted strongly like teriyaki. Hoping that I would fare better with simplicity, I took a bite of the quesadilla, which was sadly very greasy and gave me a stomachache when I dug into my leftovers the next day.
Although The Charcoal Grill certainly gives you a lot for your money in quantity, there's not too much to be said for the quality of the food. In fact, I actually prefer La Salsa or Baja Fresh to what I ordered this night (at least the steak tastes like steak). Guess my search for something tasty in between Chano's and Rivera continues!
The Charcoal Grill
108 W. 2nd St. #104
Los Angeles, CA 90012