Kate and I were already big fans of the original Mercado (Santa Monica) so when we heard they were opening a sister restaurant in Los Angeles we were thrilled... and when we found out that this location would offer brunch (The SaMo does not) we did a full on Macarena. Much larger in size this 3rd street industrial chic restaurant sits nicely among the hustle and bustle of the area. I opted to valet and was immediately pleased to see an open air exposed wall (a great alternative to a patio).
The establishment is impressive; filled with high-tops, low tables, booths and back rooms. Dia de los Muertos inspired artwork dances on the walls and a large stocked bar sits central, beckoning you to margaritas. We found ourselves on a high-top table right next to the open air wall allowing us to feel the warm breeze on this particularly sunny day. Gus, an event guru, joined us for the fun.
Guayaba Mimosas ($9) came, tasting fresh and garnished with beautiful purple orchids. I had to try the Dip Duo ($17) (it’s a sin not to order guacamole whenever you’re someplace where it’s made fresh). I was not disappointed! The tortilla chips came out hot, oil still sizzling, and the guacamole had a rich texture complete with ripe avocado chunks, but the real crowd pleaser was the piping bowl of choriqueso. Put them all together and you’ll find me in cielo (heaven).
The menu is exceptional, as most of Chef Acevedo’s menus are (this is the fourth restaurant that owners/chefs Gomez and Acevedo have opened in L.A.). The presence of fresh famer’s market ingredients are everywhere. We had difficulty deciding what to order but after another bubbly concoction we went for it. Gus ordered their house staple Huevos Ranchers – ($11). The corn tortillas were hot, fresh and perfect to wrap the veggies and eggs amid a spicy salsa verde and creamy queso cotija. He ate it hurriedly, expressing his joy through intermittent moans. I opted for the Huevos con Calabacitas ($11). Grilled zucchinis, onions, tomatoes, corn and potatoes a plenty saddled up next to my light and fluffy eggs (with diced veggies, queso cotija and garnished with avocado). I loved the simplicity of the ingredients and the complexity of the flavors, an inventive mix of spicy, sweet and semi-savory.
Kate ordered the Farmers’ Market Enchiladas ($16). The yellow mole sauce decadently covered half the plate much to her delight. The farm fresh veggies were grilled to perfection inside the corn tortillas and a light queso fresco lent its flavor to create a truly delicious plate. Kate ordered a margarita ($8) before finishing her meal and we all took a sip (or two). So light, refreshing and clean with 100% agave tequila. We could have easily stayed and had several rounds.
Before it was time to leave Glen, the amazingly knowledgeable and friendly manager, came over with a surprise, “the best flan in the universe.” We have to agree. It was the perfect end to a marvelous meal and a fantastic experience. We loved everything about our time at Mercado; the cuisine, ambience, service and drinks.