Place: Yxta Cocina Mexicana: 601 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 596-5579.
Hours: Mon., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Deals: $3.50 bottled beer; $4 draft beer; $5 margaritas; $5-$7 appetizers
Vibe: Yxta Cocina Mexicana is located on the corner of a strip mall, in a part of the Arts District where a restaurant might not see much foot traffic and thus probably not so much accidental visiting. It's more likely that the group of six sitting near the bar made plans to meet there.
For its happy hour, Yxta has a one-page menu of beer and margaritas alongside a small selection of tacos and tostadas. You'll munch on chips and two different salsas given shortly after you're seated, while musing over which appetizers to order. When done well and at gratis no less, tortilla chips like the ones at Yxta remind you that a good chip -- crisp, not greasy and salted just so -- is not always easy to find. On the slightly thicker side, their chips arrive in the basket, all puffed up and crunchy from a longer stay at the deep fryer.
Happy hour service is prompt at Yxta; it seems they know that these typically post-work and pre-dinner hours are meant to be maximized. There is a margarita special, which was blood orange ($13) during our visit; you'll do well to stick with their house margarita ($5). The tacos de papa and taquitos de camarón were nicely presented, but not as memorable in taste as the tostaditas de tinga de pollo ($6 for each appetizer). An order comes with two small, thin tostada discs with pulled chicken dressed in a chipotle sauce spiced with enough heat to make you reach for your margarita.
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