Carina gets irritated with me because I tend to crave the same thing over and over again and often times that means wanting to go the same place repeatedly. When I like something, someone or someplace, I instinctively want to frequent it all the time. Which, I presume, is an obvious sign of gluttony or obsession. This was so the case on this particular lonely Sunday afternoon. I had absolutely nothing to do and so I decided to head back to my old stomping ground and visit a little place that I always adored but had not visited in years Villas Durango, the Yucatan place in Highland Park. The little ramshackle hut on York Blvd. between Ave 56 and Ave 58 opened up its doors about 6 years in to my 8 year relationship with ex-boyfriend, whom we will name “The Saucier.” This was also about the time when sadly things began to get sour for our love. I remember going to Villas Durango and loving the food and loving the people. The jukebox, which played loud rancheras, never missed a beat and the large Diego Rivera’esque fresco on the wall made for a fully immersed environment. I was in love with the place, and not to be mean, but rather honest, I was almost always unhappily in love with my partner. It was a sad moment in time for us.
As soon as I stepped in the door, it was akin to one of those moments when you are immediately transported back to a feeling and a place. I was greeted by the same team of women that served me years ago. I think they remembered me, and if they didn’t, they did a great job of making me feel at home. They were just like I remembered, only older. It was a cold Sunday and they brought me my regular hot water and lemon. I proceeded to order from their newly expanded menu. I first ordered a prodigious sample platter (which is my favorite dish and their most authentic). In my interest to satiate a new craving, I decided to order something new so I opted for the chicken gordita. It was small and inexpensive.
The first thing that came was the gordita. It looked as though it was prepared with love. The masa shell looked like it had just the right amount of oil to be delicious and the dismembered dark chicken meat was tainted with a touch of red sauce. I thought I was in for a treat. I took a bite and was sadly disappointed. It was a modest offering in terms of flavor, but I looked forward to what lay ahead. Next up, my entrée. The plate arrived and boy did it look great. The plates came with Yucatan chicken prepared three ways and all topped with achiote. I didn’t miss a beat and devoured it promptly along with the black beans and rice. The meal didn’t come with plantains, but the kind chef gave me a few silvers along with some Mexican crema. All of the food was amazing. However, while there, I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about my return. After all, the last time I was there I was miserable. I am in a better place now, but any ending brings about sadness of what once was. One thing is for certain, my love affair with the food in Highland Park will never die.
P.S. I couldn’t remember the name of this establishment and I owe a big thanks to our Twitter friends: GoodGirlLA and HLP90042 for helping us out. Also, according to the Highland Park expert the food at Villas Durango is more Durangoese cuisine than Yucatanian. Good2know!