There’s a twist on the taco downtown, and worth every bite. The taco, er, “baco” is a signature flatbread sandwich developed by Chef Josef Centeno, owner of Baco Mercat in downtown Los Angeles. The baco is gourmet comfort food – decadent, warming and delicious. Order the “original” and bite into mouthfuls of pork, beef carnitas, and salbitxada, nestled into a naan-like bread folded over; or go spicy and rich with “el pesco” filled with creamy sriracha coated crispy shrimp.
Baco Mercat’s menu is varied but not overwhelming, lots of simple dishes with complex flavor spanning Western- and Easter-Mediterranean influences. They may be small plates, but about 4 dishes will fill the heartiest appetite. The fried chicken ‘n biscuit, though seemingly odd on this menu, is a great option if you haven’t already had one too many bacos. Caramelized romanesco would convert any child to loving vegetables, and the roasted yams with marshmallow bring out the kid in each of us.
The setting is cozy and few tables, but the high ceilings give it some breathing room and a small patio offers a few more tables. Be prepared to wait or sit at the bar if you don’t have a reservation. The bartenders are tops (and seemingly know it) so order away from the specialty drinks and be prepared to have a culinary drinking experience. Try the “Dutchman” made with bols genever (whiskey-like spirit), ginger syrup, grapefruit, and boston bittahs (citrus and chamomile). It’s refreshing and potent so be glad it’s served in a smaller glass.