Holguin himself doesn’t even stick to recipes from “the old country,” as he puts it. He was born in Santa Monica and moved to East L.A. when he was 5. His favorite recipe is for chicken cordon bleu, and in the recipe book he shares with friends and family, there are instructions for osso buco and stir-fry kung pao chicken right next to Mama Tina’s Tamales.
“I recently invited a lady friend over for dinner, and she was expecting Mexican rice and tacos,” Holguin says, “but I was serving beef brisket. I told her I would make her Mexican food the next time.”
At about 9:30, the cooking is finally finished, and Arroyo’s mother, cousin, sister-in-law and grandfather join him, his partners and a few friends in the candlelit bar area of Malo, which is much closer to completion than the main dining room. Out come Holguin’s pollitos, served on paper plates with canned beer — the tableware hasn’t arrived yet. Arroyo tastes his grandfather’s dish and smiles. The pollitosare good, he declares. But will they make it onto the menu? He won’t say.