Tamales – fresh masa, chef's choice of filling, queso fresco, crema (limited availability)

Tamales – fresh masa, chef’s choice of filling, queso fresco, crema (limited availability)

Restaurant and food trends come in waves.

That first daring establishment decided to serve garnish (AKA: kale) as a hip and trendy vegetable and then it appeared on every table.

Earlier this year, LA had east coast inspired seafood come to town (Connie and Ted’s, Salt Air, Fishing with Dynamite) and now upscale Mexican is making a comeback again (Petty Cash Taqueria, Tinga).

Granted, upscale Mexican started ages ago with El Torito and then Border Grill, which have both managed to remain popular to this day (until the Beverly Hills’ El Torito recently closed) but this is LA….it ain’t hard to track down a delicious $1.50 taco.

Why must we be forced to pay $9 for two small ones?

Well, apparently you’re paying for better quality meat (albeit, less of it) and a place to suck down a swanky, high-end margarita simultaneously. You won’t get the same atmosphere at a taco truck. Unless you BYOMargarita, which I would love you for.

HERE’S THE RUNDOWN:

Just like with Petty Cash, the margaritas at Mercado are incredible and the food is just ok.

Yet again.

The tacos were small and you only get two but they were tasty, definitely recommended.

The corn dish needed some acidity, a squeeze of lime would have been perfect.

The guacamole was fine, the queso dip was better.

The Carnitas were just ok, seemed to lack any seasoning and the Mole Turkey Leg was just disappointing. Lots of meat. Barely any mole.

What I really loved were the tamales. They were large and super tasty. Order those, dummy.

Here’s my suggestion: If you’re anywhere near the vicinity of The Grove, come here for after work drinks and tacos/tamales. Don’t bother with anything else or you’ll only have yourself to blame.

WARNING ABOUT THE PHOTOS:

The extremely dark restaurant forced me to take lighting matters into my own hands and employ various methods (iPhone flashlight and my own built-in flash) to try to rectify this. As a result, the guacamole looks vomitous, the corn looks washed out and the turkey leg looks like a nightmare from a 1950′s cookbook. Be warned.

7910 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 944-0947
mercadorestaurant.com

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