Downtown LA is the up-and-coming foodie hotspot of Los Angeles. Ask anyone for a recommendation of a restaurant Downtown and you will likely be told to check out Bar Ama, Baco Mercat, Ledlow, and Orsa & Winston. The four restaurants can be found within steps of each other, and they are all a part of the same restaurant group led by Chef Josef Centeno! Baco Mercat is the Spanish sister in the group with a little bit of a French flare, and they are famous for, you guessed it, their Bacos. There is no gluten free bread at the restaurant, but with so many other amazing NOBREAD approved options, you won’t feel like you’re missing out! …
Much of Baco’s menu is gluten free, although it may not seem like it at first. The Baco and Bazole section of the menu is a no-go, but much of the vegetable, meat, and fish section is fair game. The list of ‘vegetables’ at Baco is extensive, and this is where I ordered from. To start I ordered the yellow beet salad. I’m not much of a beet person, but the beets are incredibly flavorful… not bitter tasting at all… and served on top of yogurt, sumac, and hazelnuts. Next up was the shishito & baby kale salad with burrata, tomato, and fennel pollen. If you are a shishito pepper fan, this dish is for you! It was excellent, as well. Lastly, I was told by several people that the caramelized cauliflower at Baco Mercat is unbelievable. Well, thank you everyone who recommended this dish… it was incredible! Cooked with pine nuts, mint, garlic, and lebni, this cauliflower was bursting with flavor and an absolute must order. Many of the vegetable dishes, as pure as they sound, are subject to cross contamination in the restaurant’s fryer. The cauliflower, roasted eggplant, crispy sunchokes, blistered okra, and patatas bravas all are gluten free but subject to cross contamination, so if you are severely sensitive you will have to sit these out. One last thing to note, several dishes include soy; the hamachi crudo, ocean trout, and whole-roasted daurade all have soy, but all of these dishes can be prepared no soy!
I’ve now been to three of Chef Centeno’s the restaurant’s four restaurants, and I’m amazed at how he has created four neighboring restaurants, each with a different theme, vibe, and cuisine type. Most importantly, the restaurants co-exist and do not take away from each other. Baco Mercat is delicious, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and I recommend going here for a guaranteed wonderful dining experience. I recommend sitting outside if you can!