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Cha Cha Cha Gets Tastebuds Dancing

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Recently we had an urge to head out to eat somewhere fun--not necessarily somewhere the wait staff does dance routines en masse at scheduled intervals, or where patrons stand on tables knocking back sake bombs, but just somewhere interesting and vibrant. Maybe not new to the world of dining but new to us. Our wish was met through dinner at one of the original locations of the contemporary Caribbean restaurant Cha Cha Cha in Silverlake. The restaurant is a sort of shack-like structure, set on the corner of Virgil and Melrose where the Los Feliz area blends into Silverlake. It's a quirky little intersection, more about business than pleasure, and not a likely spot for a thriving restaurant--one that's been in business there since 1986. In 2003 the current owners took over, and took it upon themselves to open up a West Hollywood location, too. Inside the restaurant are brightly painted walls, energetic Latin music, eclectic decor (Jesus, plastic banana lights, fake birds), cozy tables complete with prayer candles and vibrant tablecloths--the color and feel of the fabric pictured above. (Okay, busted--we forgot our camera! And the Internets were unkind in allowing us to unearth relevant photos...) The staff are friendly and fast, and our server was eager to help us make our selections, and the food quick--but not too quick--to emerge from the kitchen.

We started off with a Cha Cha Cha must: Sangria. Their red sangria is a house speciality, and rightfully so. It's not too sweet nor thick, and is surprisingly refreshing. A pitcher runs a modest $20, and is perfect to share with a friend or two. Our appetizer was the goat cheese and guava quesadilla, which was served with a generous helping of fresh guacamole. The sweetness of the guava complimented the tartness of the goat cheese, and neither flavor was overpowering, making for a nice balanced taste. Choosing an entree from their list was tough, since many of the dishes promised robust flavor and spice, but we went with the Chicken Mole, which is a good-sized, tender boneless, skinless chicken breast in mole sauce. The sauce was the perfect consistency for our palate--it didn't smother the chicken, and it had a dusky, cocoa-infused flavor that was bright, sharp, but not heavy or sickly sweet. We swapped out the rice and beans on the side for some grilled veggies, which was a handsome assortment of peppers, corn, and zucchini which were light and smoky. Their platters also come with some fried plantain and a bit of cool, creamy coleslaw. Our dining companion raved about their Jerk pork platter, and had we not recently forsaken pork, we would have eagerly taken that bite they offered. The bill came to about $60, a good deal for all the sangria we'd packed in, and the fact that we were packing some leftover mole and veggies to go. Happily, Cha Cha Cha also accepts the KCRW member discount card, so 15% came off our final bill. Just another reason for Cha Cha Cha in Silverlake to have us dancing.

Cha Cha Cha
656 North Virgil Avenue (at Melrose)
(323) 664-7723
also in West Hollywood:
7953 Santa Monica Boulevard
(310) 848-7700