Downtown LA Destination: Bäco Mercat

I remember the first time that I went to Bäco Mercat. I was having drinks with a friend Downtown at The Varnish and after a few too many, we realized that we needed to eat something. Cole’s wasn’t serving anymore and the bartenders suggested we go around the corner to a new place that had just opened that was serving late. I remember how good the flatbread was that we had and vowed to return.

Since then I have been back to Bäco Mercat a few times, each time trying new things. A recent evening before heading to the theater, we ate at Bäco Mercat again and I was reminded how consistently reliable and tasty Josef Centeno’s restaurant is.

Starters:

Roasted Red Beet Za'atar and Sumac Lebni

Roasted red beet za’atar and sumac lebni served with puffy bäco bread, pecorino and olive oil – nothing beats the hot fresh bread!

There is a long list of vegetable options and here are a few favorites:

Caesar Brussels Sprouts

“Caesar” brussels sprouts with pecorino, anchovy and garlic – I love brussels sprouts and tend to order them from almost every menu. These are crunchy and the saltiness of the pecorino and anchovy add an umami flavor.japanese eggplant salad

Japanese eggplant salad with cucumber, feta and cioppolini vinaigrette – the tender eggplant with the pickled cucumber are a great combination. This is a refreshing salad.

baby beet salad

Baby beet salad with yogurt, sumac, hazelnut – I love the crunch of the hazelnuts with the smoothness of the beets and creaminess of the yogurt.

Bäcos were first created when Chef Centeno’s worked at Meson G and threw together a bunch of ingredients, making a taco-gyro-flatbread creation. They are full of flavor but very filling:

The Toron Baco  The Toron Baco - Oxtail Hash

“The Toron” bäco (sandwich) with oxtail hash, cheddar tater and horseradish-yogurt – the soft bread holds together all of the ingredients, the standout of which is the cheddar taters.

From the Fish selections, there are two standouts:

Fried Pecan Shrimp

Fried pecan shimp with pecan aioli, maple syrup and chili – sweet and spicy, this shrimp is better than similar dishes in Chinese restaurants

yellowtail collar

Yellowtail collar with yuzu kosho, white soy vinaigrette and citrus – the yellowtail is actually quite spicy but the fresh cucumber, grapes and beet salad counteract the spice

The desserts at Bäco Mercat are not to be missed:

Banana Cream Pie Rice Pudding

Banana cream pie rice pudding with chocolate crumb, whipped cream and sea salt – bananas, al dente rice, caramel and whipped cream topped by crunchy chocolate cookie crumbs, this may be one of my all time favorite desserts

caramel semifreddo

Caramel semifreddo – the custard is so creamy and sweet it is hard to think this is not ice cream

I will continue to return to Bäco Mercat to revisit some of these dishes and try new ones.

Bäco Mercat
408 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 687-8808

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