FUEL: Taking a Velour-lined 1975 Plymouth Valiant to La Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywood

You gotta eat, and you gotta get there, let’s save time by reviewing cars and restaurants together.

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Peter Murrieta inherited a ‘75 Plymouth Valiant over a decade ago from his uncle. However, it was Murrieta’s Plymouth mechanic grandfather, Dan Lynch, who originally bought the car in 1979 and inspired Murrieta throughout its unusual build. With a nod to his Mexican heritage and low-rider culture, Murrieta swapped the stock Slant-6 for the big 440, shaved off the Valiant’s chrome, installed carbon-fiber bumpers and electronic pop-locks and removed the tattered maroon vinyl roof. Gone also are the original bench seats, replaced by Duster buckets, but that late 70’s maroon velour interior remains intact. Sliding into that beast is like climbing into the bloody belly of an armadillo, or maybe, more appetizingly, cutting into a slice of perfectly done Carne Asada.

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Whomp, whomp, whomp” goes the Mopar 440 crate engine, jammed up against the sides of the engine bay of the evil four-door. Evil four-door? How can anything four-door be cool except maybe a Lincoln? See for yourself. Murrieta’s Plymouth is wicked with its blacked-out grille, carbon bumpers, American Racing wheels, and violently red interior. It’s that heartsblood crimson velour that inspired this car and food match-up. Where else could you take this car but to the gothic, chandelier-draped interior of La Velvet Margarita Cantina?

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Like the Valiant, the Velvet Margarita is over the top, impractical, and best used for special occasions. It’s as though the car grew into some sort of bizarre Alice in Wonderland proportion because the inside of the restaurant feels like an extension of the Valiant’s insane interior–red velvet wallpaper, black-light paintings of dead celebrities and a general Dia de los Muertos vibe. From the chicken mole to the fajitas and the house specialty Margaritas served in whole pineapples, you go here to have a loco good time. Good thing we had practice shouting during the drive over in the Valiant, because there’s a “whomp, whomp, whomp” of happy patrons inside as well.

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The Valiant looked a little more sedate when Peter Murrieta first inherited it from his uncle.

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La Velvet Margarita Cantina
1612 N Cahuenga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028


Got a restaurant we should try and a car we should drive there? Let us know in the comments.

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