Baco Mercat - For the Lovers

There are many people that loathe Baco Mercat and everything it stands for: decadence, out of control fusion, an overly elaborate, oft perplexing menu, being a hipster haven, producing flavor bomb food, and in general leaving diners unsure of how to order, or what they are ordering. There is a small faction of diehard LA-ites that cherish these same absurdist values in a restaurant that, for better or worse, has become entrenched in the LA dining scene. This is for those who are visiting the wonky city of LA, those still exploring food, those, who are wondering what is up at the old hipster haunt, and those who live their lives with the kind of romantic reckless abandon that is required to dine at Baco Mercat.

I recall this dish as being Muhammara, but it must have been something else, perhaps the muhammara was mixed in with cous cous, lebni, and other assorted veggies. It was one of the best grain dishes I have eaten in a very long time in terms of pairing the heft of the grain and cooling qualities of the lebni.

Fried cauliflower with mint and pine nuts is an old standard by now, and it’s just as lip-smackingly awesome as ever. Crispy hot cauliflower tempered by mint and the crunch of pine nuts, just glorious.

Castelfranco with shaved asparagus and nectarines was one of the most enlightened salads I have ever had. I will never tire of the strange combinations coming out of this place. Saccharine citrus from the nectarines adding a juicy quality against the vegetal crunch of the asparagus, and slight astringency of the castelfranco and the nuttiness of almonds. Baco’s absurdism at its finest.

The absurdist train continued barreling down the tracks with a salad of blood oranges, Persian cucumbers, regular cucumbers, feta, and flower petals. Sour, sweet, funky…wonders never cease to amaze.

Finally: A Jerk Chicken Baco. Ah, that impossible fluffy, crisped Baco bread, somewhere between a paratha, a pita, naan, and a tortilla… filled with immaculately spiced jerk chicken so over-the-top tasty that it made a woman that finds eating to be a chore to exclaim she had found something that was not a chore to eat for the first time in her life!

It is also always grand to drink at Baco, such joy, whether cocktails they age in barrels themselves, ones made with soda they make themselves, or just something simple and fun off of their well-priced wine list:

Indeed, as absurd as Baco Mercat is, and even in the face of all of the ire it raises, it remains a beautiful place to escape from reality and be in love for a while; it is up to you what or with whom you are in love while there, but for a select few it very well might end up being the food.


I went back to Baco for a Baco lunch and drinks, and found it is just as enchanting when you are solo.

The new barrel-aged cocktails they make are incredibly tasty ways to drink complex, pure fusions of different alcohols. Dawes’ Last Stand showed off tempered smoke and oak in a smooth, refreshing way. Exquisite.

The Original Baco. A deadly fusion of beef carnitas, plus fried pork belly, Catalan salbitxada, and chipotle aioli with fresh greens and tomatoes… one of the most meaty, smokey, nutty, and unique flavor bomb items I have ever eaten. Nothing feels like LA to me like eating one of these.

Following up with a grilled pineapple cocktail was pleasant, but would stick to their more interesting barrel-aged cocktails in the future.

Still, there is hardly a more unique lunch in all of LA than this for me.

I like their food. It’s not crave worthy, but it’s solid. But the last time I went, the service was so laughably bad, that I never returned.

I feel like nowhere is immune from an off night of service.

Did you say anything to management? Just curious. I’ve gotten comped things there before from messed up service issues when I brought them up.

I think it is clear that I don’t care about service that much. I had the worst service imaginable at Salt’s Cure several times in a row, but I still go eat their oatmeal griddlecakes haha

I did not. I let my money do the talking by leaving a 10% tip.


I did the same thing at Vaca recently =/

But Baco’s management has always been unusually receptive to hearing and rectifying complaints. The staff also had a recently large switch out there. Maybe worth a second shot if you’re in the area ?

I don’t know… I won’t super strongly defend all of the service. Centeno’s joints are all so popular it seems no one at any of them gives that great of service outside of one or two veteran servers at Baco, and probably the team at O&W. I wish they would put more emphasis on service, but alas…

Aesthete = Bacoman?


no shit!
but so much kinder and gentler - more like a Bacoman v.2.0


Wow, I know you guys don’t like the restaurant, but you are talking about it as if it isn’t one of the most popular restaurants in LA. Surely it is conceivable that more than a single person could like the place, or like the food genuinely without being a shill (presuming the old poster was a shill for the restaurant that was unearthed)?

Perhaps the review is a bit cheeky (because the hatred for the place is very obvious with past threads like “Centeno spots overrated??” etc… all over the forums), but I just went to a place and had a good time.

Is it literally unbelievable that someone might visit the place and enjoy themselves without being a shill of some sort?

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So is McDonalds. Or Cheesecake Factory.

I don’t know that popularity, in and of itself, is a solid barometer for “meaningful”, “worthwhile”, or, even, “good”.

But, I’m just teasing you. I don’t think - correct me if I’m wrong - you’re a CH’er who moved over, so that reference is more for the OGs.

I agree popularity doesn’t mean it’s good. I was more saying it doesn’t seem that crazy for someone to say they like a place that is popular because a lot of people enjoy it. Like maybe you don’t think McDonalds is amazing but if someone says they enjoyed a Big Mac it isn’t impossible to believe that they genuinely enjoyed it and they aren’t a shill being paid by McDonalds to say so.

Maybe I’m wrong though.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to accuse me of being a shill for Hatchet Hall though? Haha


Oh, it’s never even crossed my mind that you’re a shill.

And, my general philosophy is, “eat what you like”. I do.

On the flip side, there are definitely some CH - and FTC - sacred cows that I just find boring/bland/blah (I’m looking at you, Melisse). But, I’m ok with that. I know I’m in the minority.

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The week I was staying a few blocks away, I liked the food at Baco Mercat enough the first time that I went back twice.

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I am surprised we like the same place!

We are the only two!

Do you think Manresa or Atelier Crenn are worth going to in SF?

Dunno. Not my kind of thing. Kinch is a great chef but I avoid tasting-menu-only places. Crenn’s food seems absurd to me and even people I know who liked their meals there thought some of the dishes didn’t work, which I think is unacceptable at that price.

@Aesthete, I don’t think they’re accusing you of being a shill. They’re saying you remind them of someone with a strikingly similar posting style who also likes Baco Mercat a lot.

I like it, too. I know it’s a polarizing place, but the simple, bold flavors really do it for me.

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The flavors aren’t all simple. That dish with the muhammara-ish element had a lot going on.

Oh, interesting. Well, fair enough. You’ve never even made an exception for Saison?

I agree, I go to Baco for a kind of mishmash of flavors that I just never really see elsewhere. Shockingly with all of the elements involved the flavors are typically still clean to me, if that makes sense. I think maybe “clean” works better than “simple” in this context, but could be easily mistaken.

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Love muhammara. Which one was that?

There we go. “Clean” is a much better word choice.