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Cha Cha Cha ~ 20th Birthday ~ Silverlake

8:50 AM PDT on August 23, 2006

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656 N. Virgil Ave. ~ 323-664-7723 ~ Silverlake, CA 90004 (TACO Map)

Cha Cha Cha has major juice in this hood, as could be attested to by their locking down their entire Virgil block for a 20th Birthday jam. I don't think Wolfgang Puck could get the street shut down in front of Spago as quickly as the Anaya family could in front of their Silverlake legend which has been serving home-style Caribbean eats with flair and heart for two decades.

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Porkpie hats, chilly stunners, prestigious friends, buttoned Guayaberas, earthquakin' booties, upscale suits, ghetto superstars, hungry freeloaders, and a very cordial Mayor Villaraigosa passed through, the latter even stopping for a peek at the ship-shape kitchen. Drummers pounded out a streetside jam with military precision and favella funk. Artwork by two Hola Youth Photographers hung from the corrugated tin walls. Carnivale dancers triggered nalgitas on bodies sprung so tight they raised temperatures in summertime Los Angeles. Then they were all dripping sweat and hyperventilating outside, which was slightly less hot....

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Among the local stars and imported ritmo, we stuffed our bellies on plate after plate of finely shredded, stewed, sloppy, n' spiced beef topped and infused with diced olives; crisp, thick-cut fries swabbed in diced garlic then served in Happy Meal-esque paper wrappers; thin margherita pizzas drizzled in a rich dark sauce and more beef; Moors and Christians, garlicky black beans and rice sticking together in Sno Cone cups; and my favorite, creamy guacamole swimming with chunks of palm hearts. Cha Cha Cha's legendary empanadas and shrimp were not served unfortunately, though on the bright side their sangria was, leading to the faded brand of mingling my associate and like to call shit-talking.

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Regardless of the scrumptious eats, festive vibe, plus good looking, and occasionally obnoxious crowd (What's wrong with a black shirt and blue jeans, lady? Get your own fucking drinks, Jack! And how dare you give your card to my fake girlfriend, I don't care that you produced three movies with Treat Williams!), Cha Cha Cha has been doing things right to survive Los Angeles' restaurant jungle and etch such a firm hold in the hearts of the neighborhood and city.

Known for eternal happy hours and breezy, social evenings, this is a Caribbean paradise in a concrete suburb, with great food and even greater spirit. TACO wishes the Anaya Family at least another 50 years of success as they branch Cha Cha Cha out to Las Vegas and beyond.

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