So I was up in LA for the National Homeland Security Conference (which was literally a blast with the tactical demo they held on Figueroa), and there was no way I could return to the LBC without checking out one of the many restaurants on my Downtown LA list. Jonathan Gold recently came up with his 101 Best LA Restaurants list, and Chef Josef Centeno’s Baco Mercat was at #14. I’d been curious about this place for months, its unique offering of various types of “bacos”, which are flatbready tacoish sandwichmajiggers invited by Centeno at his prior post as Executive Chef of Lazy Ox Canteen.
I entered the place on an adventurous high, my picky palate ready to sample items never before sampled. So I said yes to the “Caesar” Brussels Sprouts (their quotes, not mine), a warm salad with pecorino, anchovies, and garlic. I’d never had a warm salad before. I’m anti-warm when it comes to salad, even sticking them in the freezer to chill when a to go order is packaged with hot, fresh chicken. But this – THIS hot salad was enchanting and wonderful; a zesty, flavorful punch. I loved it.
For my entree, I had to try a Baco. Since my current profile reads pescatarian, I opted for the El Pesco (crispy shrimp, sriracha, chive), while my table mate ordered the Original – pork, beef carnitas, and salbitxada, a Spanish romanesco-like sauce.
So how did it do? Pretty well in my mouth. Crispy meets creamy meets doughy. A boom of flavors – the sauce on the Pesco Baco indescribably delicious. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish my meal so wasn’t able to try a dessert. The good news, however, is that leftover Baco is as good – maybe even better – than newly plated Baco. I almost cried after finishing what was in my doggie bag, sad that I’d have to wait days, weeks until opportunity brings me to Baco Mercat again. Hopefully, I’ll get there after hours so I can fully enjoy my experience with a cocktail. And more Baco. Much MUCH more Baco.
408 S. Main
Los Angeles, CA 90013