Wednesday, February 11, 2009

El Cid, Silverlake

El Cid
4212 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Telephone: 323.669.0618

Monday - Tuesday:
8:00 pm - 12:00 am
Wednesday - Saturday:
4:00 pm - 2:00 am
11:00 am - 12:00 am

Doesn't the picture above make you want to break out your maracas and call your favorite mariachi band so you can dance in your frilly Latin-Barbie dress??

Well, if you do want to dance some crazy flamenco, go to El Cid. Look at the calendar on their website, though, because every night at El Cid is vastly different. The last time I went was not for flamenco, no, it was for ... rock ...? Grunge? I don't know. One of my friends is in a band, I went to be supportive.

I don't even remember why I went to El Cid for the first time, but I do remember that it was sometime last year. The place is okay- kind of dingy, a little too far East on Sunset to be truly safe, filled with a variety of ... interesting people. Their drinks make up for the crappy parking and the absolutely heinous flight of stairs that must be conquered to get to the actual bar.

To dwell on the stairs for a moment. The STAIRS. El Cid labels itself a restaurant, but I consider it a bar (perhaps because I go to drink, not eat). A girl about to go to a bar does what? Gets dressed up, at least a little bit, which includes what? That's right, high heels.

The "front door" is right on Sunset if you choose to enter from Sunset rather than the creeptastic back alley. Walk through this door (more like a concrete gateway) and you are confronted with these horrible green stairs.

My problem with the stairs is not (just) the color. First of all, why did they paint the stairs a hideously putrid green? Second of all, why did they hire a blind man with apparently no fingers and no idea what a level might be to construct these stairs??

Rickety, very uneven, very carelessly thrown together concrete stairs. I hate them.

Once I've braved the horricious stairs, I have a choice of two bars- the outdoor bar, which has a a smaller selection of alcohol (so not my first choice), and the indoor bar, which has, among its wide range of liquor, INFUSED TEQUILA.

That's right. There's a glass dispenser that sits on the indoor bar, underneath the stemware rack (who drinks wine at a place like El Cid??). There are little chunks of fruit, swollen with tequila, sitting at the bottom of the dispenser. The actual tequila has turned a milky peachy color, and peeks innocently out of the dispenser, looking for all the world like Yakult (야쿠르트).

Now, any Korean knows this- Yakult is delicious, and I can drink about fourteen of those teeny containers. So this Yakult-looking liquid ... I can drink about fourteen little glasses of them, right??


Don't be fooled by the infused tequila. One of my friends calls is devil juice, with very good reason.

I met the owner of the place one night (he was wearing an awesome cowboy shirt that had glitter AND flowers- and he's straight but managed to pull it off) and he told me how the infused tequila is made. Take tequila. Pour into dispenser. Cut up various fruits. Throw 'em in. Put the whole dispenser in the fridge for two days. Done.

When asked what kind of fruit they used, he said it was pretty much whatever tropical fruit's in season. On that particular night, the main ingredient was canteloupe, with some pineapple and mango. I noticed that the infused tequila tasted different every time I had it, which is explained by the variation of fruit. I think I like it best with lots of pineapple (the acidity makes the tequila smoother, to me) and mango (sweet and textural). If I were to make some myself, I would add a bit of kiwi and lots of mint leaves. But that's a post for another day (a hungover day).

Other than the alcohol ... the interior is pretty funny (some areas are funny-haha and some areas are funny-oh-no) and kitschy and odd. The next time I go, I will try to remember to take my camera and snap some shots of the Latin themed doll dioramas. I don't know what else to call them- little scenes set up in 3d, one of which I remember quite clearly: a small balcony with (fake) ivy all over it and a doll dressed up as some sort of Latin woman (Carmen?) in a flouncy red dress. Is she a Latina Juliet, waiting for her bolero-clad Romeo? I hope so.

Overall, El Cid isn't a bad place. I just need a good reason to go, because the food isn't enough of a draw and even infused tequila won't drag me out to Silverlake*. My friend's band, while not quite my cup of tea, is quite good, and I am nothing if not supportive of my friends that never grew out of their garage band phase.

* To be an L.A. snob ... I lived on the West side of L.A. for several years, from 2000 - 2008, with a year missing in the middle while I lived in Koreatown. Most of my friends live in the West side (Marina del Rey, Culver City, Playa Vista, Mar Vista, Santa Monica, Westwood, Venice, etc.) and I worked at a company in Marina del Rey for about three years. I don't do the East side, certainly not anywhere farther than Koreatown. Silverlake is just beyond my comfort zone, so I don't venture over there very often.

Going back to El Cid. Infused tequila. Take it as a shot or in a drink (margarita on the rocks, for instance), the stuff is equally delicious. It's pretty much the sole reason for my fond El Cid remembrances.


ate February 12, 2009 at 8:54 AM  

how odd - i know a resto just like how you described it but minus the stairs.

restos with stairs will never make it here

jeanny February 12, 2009 at 9:38 AM  

Does your place also have a doll diorama?? I've decided those things are awesome. :)

Good to know that trends are pretty much trends, no matter where we all are.

ate February 12, 2009 at 10:22 AM  

no - no dolls, no dioramas - not in this bar =)

but the drinks, the decor - so familiar.

when i have the time, i will go back to that bar and send you a picture.