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This Masa-Fried Chicken Is Proof That L.A. Is the Best Food City in the World. Here’s Where to Find It

1:47 PM PST on February 17, 2022

The amount of time working with masa needed to come up with the idea to essentially tortilla-fy half a bird is staggering. Hours patting down masa, days full of lifting heavy sacks of maíz, and years of gently smashing handmade corn tortillas all for chef Osbaldo “Balo” Orozco to arrive at the thought: Let’s dip some chicken in masa and fry until golden brown and delicious.

This pinnacle of American, but Mexican fried chickenery is happening at Homage Brewing in Chinatown, a Mexican and Filipino American-owned brewery that has developed a dedicated following for their absolutely refreshing wild-fermented beers. He is the consulting chef and their collaborative efforts have created the most enticing food menus at a brewery that Los Angeles has had in a long time. 

“I knew I wanted someone who understood my world in fermentation and also knew how to build a menu that shared values in farm to table like our beer,” says Matthew Garcia, Homage’s Owner and Blender at the brewery. “I knew Balo would be able to execute and infuse the different cultures that make L.A. cuisine so interesting into our menu.”

The masa-fried chicken served at Homage Brewing, by chef Balo. Photos by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
The masa-fried chicken is served at Homage Brewing, by chef Balo. Photos by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
Outside Homage Brewing. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
Outside Homage Brewing. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

Chef Balo is probably L.A.’s most highly regarded yet low-key chef doing some of the best Mexican-inspired food in the city. Before coming to L.A. in 2016 to cook, he created the masa program at Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina in New York, and worked at Hartwood in Tulum for five years. He developed this masa batter technique at the short-lived Onda in Santa Monica, where he was the chef. He hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, the land of tortas ahogadas, birria, and tequila.  

According to Balo, the batter is ultimately an atole of sorts. The floral masa he uses comes from Kernel of Truth Organics, the first tortillería in L.A. to offer masa made from organic American-grown corn. 

The resulting nixtamalized [Mary’s Chicken] pollo is super juicy, with a satisfying salty crunch that will immediately remind you of scarfing down a handful of freshly fried tortilla chips. It is served with chayote pickles, fermented Thai-chile honey, and a house-cultured “ranch” crema. 

With one of Homage’s guava-infused saison “spritz,” it is a food and drink pairing that shows the power of L.A. food. Anchored by quality, and forever innovated by the immigrants that continue to shape the city.

1219 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Balo’s food menu is available Wednesday through Sunday from 3 PM to 9 PM and 10 PM on weekends.

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