Kid Hit Menu Items: Even when there’s general resistance about eating green stuff, guacamole with chips is a reliable way to overcome this opposition. Lotería has other sneaky perks. Because there’s so much variety and some of the veggies are nicely disguised, it’s a great place to experiment. A little bite of hongos here, some calabasitas taken out of my taco and placed on a chip there. The kiddos might not even notice that they’re eating veggies in between bites of a plain cheese quesadilla, rice and beans, and shoving gravity-defying scoops of crema mexicana into their mouths. Try a taco sampler; or perhaps a fat plate of rich chilaquiles or a hearty egg dish fits the bill, along with an agua fresca. (Breakfast is available all day, BTW.)
Adult Perks: Lotería has enormous variety and flexible options in terms of menu items, portion sizes, Mexican regional representation, as well as different levels of spice. Heat seekers and wusses are equally safe. Lotería Hollywood and Studio City have full bars (or at least Studio City will, its license was pending last I read), with extensive tequila lists and beer selections. But dinner with the family probably isn’t the best time to explore the complex worlds of premium agave-derived liquors. The first Original Farmers Market location doesn’t have booze, but it’s fun for other reasons.
Pros: We love Lotería Hollywood for it’s spacious room, natural light, big menu that’s equally satisfying to meat eaters and vegetarians, and helpful staff. They’ll gladly bring drinks in plastic to-go cups for kids and keep refilling the chips. Which when trying to get your kid to eat other stuff can kind of be a con, I suppose.
Cons: The noise level can get high when the Hollywood location is crowded.
Changing Station: No. Yes at Farmers Market location, since those public restrooms are fully equipped.Something for everyone, and hopefully even a way to sneak in some veggies.
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Street parking at Lotería Hollywood is possible during the day. There’s also the City lot around the corner on Cherokee. At night you’re almost definitely looking at a valet situation. While I haven’t yet eaten at the Studio City one, I have been to that mega strip mall and there’s plenty of parking. It is the Valley, after all. The Farmers Market is it’s own semi-complicated deal.Loteria was seriously happenin’ during the World Cup. But thank goodness I intercepted a small hand from pulling up the mega projection screen, thus avoiding potentially unhappy drama.
Other Tidbits: Despite my fierce love for the Original Farmers Market, we were psyched when the stand-alone mega Lotería opened in Hollywood. It’s a great option for post-Hollywood Farmers’ Market brunch, and conveniently located along a path we travel frequently. Kids love pointing out the images from the lotería game. Heck, if you’re more organized than I am, bringing a lotería game set to play during a meal could be fun. The vibe is low-key but colorful and upbeat. Plus you can enjoy a fresh, zesty margarita made with many types of tequila or mescal. For whatever reason we always get seated at the same spot, at the corner table of the wall-mounted cushioned bench next to the cash register. A fun game peek-a-boo often ensues with some willing member of the restaurant staff.
The patio is also exceedingly pleasant and interesting if you enjoy the parade of public life on display that Hollywood Boulevard has to offer. (That said, you also run the risk of seeing something not terribly appealing.) Both indoor and outdoor spaces have room for strollers. Owner/chef Jimmy Shaw once made a sweet comment to me about our children, so even if my mentioning that betrays objectivity, whatevs — it totally endeared his restaurants to me even more and made us feel at ease.
6627 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; plus other locations
Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday, 9 a.m. until midnight.
P.S. You might have noticed the first two photos in this post are atypically outstanding for this site. That’s because they’re the work of the terrific Marjorie Salvaterra.