Friday, November 1, 2013

Handcrafted Mexican Cuisine (& lots of Tequila) in the Heart of Santa Monica. Salud!

I love Mexican food-the flavors, the spices, the carbs...Mmmmm. When I was in LA I knew I had to get some as Cali is known for having some of the best. While I was in Santa Monica, a friend of mine suggested Mercado- The spot has two locations, one in Santa Monica and one that just opened in LA. The space was super cute and seemed to focus on group dining as there were 3 large communal tables in the center and a decent sized bar. I arrived early so to the bar I went. They had a great happy hour with cheap drinks and bar bites. I was pretty hungry so I ordered a snack (naturally). Their Rajas Poblanas. This dish was almost like a dip and was served with amaze balls, homemade corn tortillas (chewy, blissful disks of heaven). The "dip" consisted of poblano strips, sweet corn and spicy I was super excited for din din...

Once my friends arrived we got a table. We ordered guacamole (of course), the fish tacos, the al pastor tacos, ceviche tostadas and one of the evening specials, beer battered squash blossoms stuffed with manchego cheese (say whaaaa!?!). Everything was very good. The guacamole was among the best I've ever had and all of their yummy tacos are served on the aforementioned chewy, blissful disks of heaven. Our adorable server said we needed to save room for dessert as they're known for their flan. Done! It was truly the best flan I've ever had. I used to work for one of the top Mexican chefs in NYC so I feel my opinion is pretty on point with this one. It was creamy, topped with caramel, served with fresh berries and an insane vanilla sauce. Needless to say we were all happy campers by the time we left Mercado. Perhaps this was partially due to the fact we were a few cocktails deep:-). Bonus: they have a great tequila list. Salud! 

Rajas Poblanas-a steal at $6 on the happy hour menu.

The Guacamole Goodness.

What I consider the World's Best Flan. 

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