Los Angeles is a city full of Mexican cuisine with endless options in every LA neighborhood. Taco Trucks claim their prized street corners in an almost territorial fare. Street vendors like the infamous Lincoln Heights Elote Man gather a loyal following to put them on the map. Family owned restaurants gain support from their neighborhood as the local favorite. High-end restaurants refine classic dishes to highlight the elegance and finesse of this cuisine.
On Mother's Day, I had one straightforward request from my mother: Mexican food and margaritas. From this request, I'm proud to say that w are related. However, choosing a place for an occasion like Mother's Day isn't the easiest task when considering all the amazing options that LA has to offer. In addition, as an advocate for $2 tacos, finding a nice restaurant for this special day was particularly challenging. I recalled a friend who mentioned great things about Mercado in Santa Monica. I discovered they have a few locations, one being 10-15 min away from us in Studio City. Reservations set!
Walking into Mercado, we were immediately welcomed by a bright, and modern interior with natural light filling the restaurant, which set a casual yet elegant tone perfect for this Mother's Day occasion. Tables centered the main dining area, creating a sense of community and sharing. The whole space was simply inviting, and it definitely lured us in with excitement for the food to come. Needless to say, we were their catch of the day!
If you're looking for traditional dishes with a unique twist, then Mercado will not disappoint. Mercado's menu is filled with classics like tacos, ceviche, tamales, chile relleno, and carne asada. However, each dish has a little element of contemporary flare that makes these classic dishes more elevated. Take for example the crispy shrimp atop a jicama tortilla, which adds a crisp and slightly sweeter taste to make a perfect taco appetizer. My personal favorite was the ever tried and true carnitas. I don't know what sort of voodoo magic they did in the kitchen, but these carnitas had the perfect sweet and heat flavor balance in each and every tender bite.
If you're looking for just a few bites and sips, Mercado's Happy Hour will do just the trick. Many elements of their star entree dishes can be seen in their happy hour shareables and small bites, Moreover, their drink menu is full of craft margaritas and cocktails, local beers, and an extensive 75+ tequilas and mezcals to choose from.
Next time you're looking for traditional yet refined dishes with serious fresh ingredients and flavor, look no further than Mercado. I have the great pleasure to recommend this restaurant, and you can sure bet that I will be back for those carnitas!