LOS ANGELES | There are many good reasons why Downtown’s Bäco Mercat was voted the 9th best restaurant in American by Bon Apetit in 2012. The chef driven, unpretentious eatery from Josef Centeno quite simply nails all of the things that are important. The former office space is small and relaxed, the service professional yet casual, and the menu a celebration of many of the things that are great about food. You could say that the menu has a Mediterranean focus, but that would be missing the point. Across the menu you’ll find influences from places like Western and Eastern Europe, China, Japan and South America.
You’re not really going to go wrong with anything off the menu here but, to use the old cliche, if you can only order one thing, it as to be a bäco. A bäco is a sort of sandwich meets felafel meets taco that Centeno invented himself and consists of naan-like bread stuffed with any number of ingredients and folded in half. The original bäco is filled with fried pork belly and carnitas, pickles, greens, and the tomato-almond sauce salbitxada, but our favourite is the circled option on the menu, the Toron. This this of beauty is filled with oxtail hash, cheddar tater, and horseradish yogurt and is divine – there’s a reason it’s circled on the menu.
Want some vegetables? Try the roasted Japanese eggplant with poblano feta, hazelnut dukkah, cumin, and berbere. Looking for meat? What about the chicken “ribs” escabeche with cucumber, sesame, pine nuts and harissa BBQ. The only problem with the food here is that it’s near on impossible to decide what you want to eat because it all sounds so appealing.
The wine list is impressive, and features local and international wines while the cocktail, spirit and beer selection is focused and also impresses.
If you’re in Culver City, you’ll also be able to get your bäco fix at Bäcoshop, the takeaway, sandwich shop spinoff of Bäco Mercat which is expected to open some time in 2017.
408 S Main Street
Mon – Thu: 11:30am to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:30am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 12:00am
Sun:11:30am to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm