Leave it to Stephen Arroyo to psyche out a great location for his next restaurant. With Cobras & Matadors firmly ensconced in the Fairfax district, Cobra Lily on Wilshire Boulevard and Hillmont in Los Feliz, he's just opened Malo in Silver Lake. Or is it Los Feliz? At any rate, it's on Sunset Boulevard just south of Fountain, a handy address for the hipsters in either neighborhood.
Like all of Arroyo's places, Malo has a quirky decor. This one feels like a drafty church hall gone Goth. Flea market paintings of saints and sinners hang over the doorways. Votive candles burn in antique sideboards. And the walls are covered in what looks like black subway tile and flocked red velvet. The seating is mostly long egalitarian tables with benches or banquettes.
Actually, the space is half bar, half restaurant, and includes an enclosed patio for smokers and those who like the great outdoors with salsa and chips. Those chips, incidentally, are fried to order and served piping hot, a wonderful contrast with the cool of the quite respectable guacamole. The homemade salsas aren't bad either, though they're a little short on the smolder.
It's the antithesis of El Cholo. Plates are mostly small and spare, meant to share like the tapas Arroyo serves at Cobras & Matadors. Ceviches have their own separate category. Everything is a la carte. Beans and rice can be ordered as a side, fairly priced at $1.50.