MERCADO LOS ANGELES
‘LO MEJOR’ MEXICAN IN THE FAIRFAX DISTRICT
I’m always a harsh critic when it comes to Mexican food as I can’t help but compare whatever is presented in front of me to the fine dishes I ate growing up. Most often, Mexican food around town, with few exceptions, never beats mom’s home cooking.
But I was anxious to give Mercado Los Angeles (there’s also a Mercado in Santa Monica) a try seeing how it’s from the same folks behind Yxta Cocina Mexicana in downtown. From Executive Chef Jose Acevedo come some very tasty dishes that really standout. During our recent visit for dinner, we sampled the menu and were really pleased with the hearty Mexican fare.
An absolute must-have dish is the Tacos de Carnitas—fine slow-cooked pork, served with guacamole, red onions and cilantro. These bad boy tacos are outrageously good. Unfortunately they’re only on the Happy Hour menu but the same divine pork can be had as an entrée, which is probably the way to go. We made it before Happy Hour was over so we relished the fine pork as tasty tacos. If you go for Happy Hour, get theses tacos and drink and you’ll be one happy camper.
With a vast selection of tequila to choose from, I was a little surprised that the actual drink menu is somewhat limited. Of course you’ll find margarita galore, and it should be noted that all margaritas are made with fresh sour. I actually started with the New Fashioned, which is a fiery mix of mezcal, cane syrup, and Mexican bitters. This is a really nice, stiff drink to start your night. The Spicy Cucumber Margarita made with silver tequila, house jalapeño purée, and served with a chipotle salt rim is pretty potent, and La Piña, made with silver tequila, muddled pineapple, cilantro and jalapeño, is spicy yet savory. These are all solid cocktails.
Delving deeper into the menu, the Elote Callejero (street corn) is a very pleasing mix of grilled sweet corn, caramelized onions, chile piquin butter, and queso cotija. This is a very familiar and authentic dish that’s perfect as a starter item. Likewise, the Dip Duo, a solid blend of guacamole and choriqueso (melted cotija, parmesan, Oaxaca, house chorizo, poblanos, and mushrooms) served with fresh chips really puts a nice spin on the standard guacamole and chips.
If you’re looking for heartier dishes, the Enchiladas de Pollo en Mole Oaxaqueño—pulled free-range chicken, Oaxacan mole, Mexican rice, queso fresco, crema fresca, red onions, and sesame seeds—is a nice, yet not too filling dish. I usually can’t resist ordering mole whenever I see it and this one was definitely solid.
The Camarones al Ajillo—sautéed shrimp, chile de arbol garlic butter, and ciabatta—are very tasty and a great, light option if you don’t want to get too stuffed.
If you’re ravenous and feeling carnivorous, the Carne Asada—prime marinated skirt steak, guacamole, cebollines, and grilled corn—does not disappoint. This one is great to share, otherwise come hungry if you plan to take this dish on all by yourself. The steak is definitely tasty and the corn and sauce really bring everything together.
If you saved room for dessert, flan and/or ice cream are good choices. I like that the menu is simple but there are still plenty of options to keep things interesting and full of flavor.
Mercado Los Angeles is located at 7910 West Third Street. Call 323-944-0947.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photos Courtesy of Mercado Los Angeles