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Matthew Mello

Jan 26 2023
Savory Celebrates

Date of Visit:
May 11 2022

820 N Western Ave., Los Angeles CA 90029




Ready to experience authentic Guatemalan at its finest? Look no further than El Churrasco Chapin.  

There’s no shortage of good Mexican food in Los Angeles. However, there are numerous other Central American enclaves throughout the city dishing out some of their unique cultural contributions to the food world. To say that Guatemalan food is like Mexican food would be simultaneously accurate and inaccurate. Familiar side dishes of rice and beans will assist in initiating those unfamiliar with this less ubiquitous cooking style. A restaurant that gets Guatemalan food so right is El Churrasco Chapin. 

El Churrasco
Pictured: Chapin Beef Salpicao

You’ll immediately feel at ease once you walk through the front doors of El Churrasco Chapin. It is an extremely casual, almost homey atmosphere where you’ll legitimately feel like a guest rather than a customer. You’re treated like an old friend by the warm, welcoming staff, who navigate between the tables and behind the counter. I found the color schemes and overall aesthetic to be quite pleasing. In fact, I instantly felt that for however long I was inside, the cares of the world would remain out of reach. You, too, will be transported to the volcanic foothills of Guatemala City by the smells, sounds, and tastes. 

I couldn’t really see behind the curtain into the kitchen, but I would believe it if I was told a jovial Guatemalan grandmother was back there gleefully preparing every platter. Most of the plates come with frijoles volteados, which are refried black beans cooked down to a paste with flavor notes of fennel and a flavorful pale-yellow rice. Be sure to get some Guatemalan tortillas which are thick, disc-like, and pillowy. The “regulars” at adjacent tables all seemed to be taking advantage of the many breakfast selections despite it being past noon. 

El Churrasco
Pictured: Chapin Caldo

Just in case you need visual persuasion, a large blue banner features photographs of some of the dishes available. My personal favorite was the Beef Salpicao, which is flavorful shredded beef laced with onions and radish. Squeeze some lime juice on top and a few dollops of the florescent green salsa brava for an unparalleled flavor fiesta. Notes of vinegar, heat, acidity, sweetness, and deep umami all harmonize beautifully. It was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  

The caldo at El Churrasco Chapin is another meaty dish that’s heaven sent on a cold day. Piping hot stew with tender beef and potatoes is served alongside the aforementioned frijoles and rice. Dip the thick tortillas into the stew before spooning the other ingredients on top. The thick, red base sticks to the tortilla and bathes the toppings with its tomatoey goodness. It’s quite a large menu that covers the broad array of cuisine enjoyed by Guatemalans all over the world.  

El Churrasco Chapin is a welcome success story after a historically difficult period for restaurants. They had the audacity to open in June 2020 despite the forces working against them. That resolve, commitment, and authenticity comes through in every bite of food. They’ve earned their place as a dining destination in the diverse melting pot that is indeed the City of Angels. Perhaps the American dream lives on after all.