Mercado on Third and Fairfax, in Los Angeles is continuing the trend for rustic, modern and classic Mexican cuisine, in a city that has always embraced Mexican Food. What once was fun Mexican dives, with cheap margueritas, is now being replaced with classic renditions of Mexican dishes made with quality fresh ingredients, and excellent cocktails, made with premium tequilas and mezcals.
Some of my favorites in the city include Malo Downtown, and also in Silverlake, Tortilla Flats in West Hollywood, Red O also in Weho, and of course Border Grill in Santa Monica. Mercado on Third now offers a new spot in the neighborhood near The Grove , and the infamous Farmer’s Market. In fact I’m convinced Chef Jose Acevedo is shopping daily at the Farmer’s Market to create his ultra fresh and delicious cuisine. This marks the fourth installment from this restaurant group, along with Jesse Gomez, which includes Mercado in Santa Monica, El Arco Iris in Highland Park and Yxta Concina Mexicana in Downtown L.A.
Walking into Mercado feels like a Mexican version of a French bistro. High ceilings, white tile, busting scene with communal tables in the center, and a vibrant, and open bar scene. There are several dining areas to Mercado, some that overlook Third Street, a more private enclave in the back, with a very cool Mexican mural conjuring up Dia De Los Muertos, and a third dining area to the west that’s moodier with more ambient lighting and booth seating.
Signature cocktails at Mercado utilize the 60 premium tequilas, and mezcals that are available, but all cocktails use minimal, yet carefully selected fresh ingredients fused with premium spirits. The result is perfection. My friend had the New Fashioned, which was a mezcal take on the classic Old Fashioned. I had to have the Westside Fresa, as it included Mezcal joven, strawberries, lime, mint, agave and angostura bitters. The cocktail was truly sublime.
Food is all fresh with tortillas made daily. Opt for the piping hot corn tortillas where you can taste fresh corn. The guacamole is a must which had plenty of spice, cilantro and a nice touch of pumpkin seeds for a nuttier taste. Alongside our guacamole, my friend and I shared the ceviche and the tacos de tinga made with chicken. Both were served on fresh corn tortillas, but the Tostaditas de Ceviche Tropical included fresh white fish and shrimp, mango, jicama serrano peppers, red peppers, chile de arbol aioli, lime served on a crispy corn tortillas. The flavors really came together nicely. The soft chicken tacos de tinga were scrumptious, paired with a smoky dark black bean and chipotle sauce.
As a huge fan of Carnitas, I really enjoyed Chef Acevedo’s take on this classic dish. It was slow-cooked to perfection and included chile de arbol salsa, cauliflower with escabeche. My friend had the Pavo en Mole Oaxaqueno comprised of Shelton Farms whole turkey leg, Oaxacan mole and mexican rice. The mole had the perfect complexity of spice, sweetness and depth that paired nicely with the turkey leg.
For classic and modern Mexican food that continues this fine trend for refined Mexican cuisine, be sure to add Mercado on Third to your list. Visit: www.mercadorestaurant.com