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Is Baco Mercat really this bad?

overpriced and overrated come to mind.

prodded by a staff, I recently went back for vegetables (cuz I am not eating oily gorditas or fried flat bread stuffed with more fat). Indeed the vegetables are the only edible dishes, and even some are still mad misses.

what I find most hilarious is a bowl of stir fried (roasted, whatever) romanesco with really odd flavors) can go for $12, and the "fry everything" method of cooking produces majority of vegetables hits (doesn't it always?). Yes, the beets in yogurt is tasty enough, but really, it's a beet salad with some nuts. I'll eat beets if you peel/roast it.

straying from the veggie, the boquerones is probably the grossest fish so far this year -- fried breaded pickled anchovies topped with honey. gag was apparently the flavor profile, not the Spanish tapa. he worst offense of was that bowl of meat noodle soup. it was salted beyond belief and for half the money, 10 better bowls of Chinese beef noodle soup can be found all over SGV.

Coincidentally, the last meals at Jitlada and Baco ran up similar ticket prices, but I left the downtown culinary annoyance hungry and way more sober. At least it was a bit better than Ama. What happened to Centenos of Lot 1 (dinner, not lunch).

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  1. I'm pretty sure you will get some naysayers though not me.

    1. Sucks that you had that experience. I tried Baco Mercat for the first time 2 weeks ago along with some friends for lunch and it was wonderful. Maybe that's because it was 2:00pm on a Saturday but it was pretty chill and the food was great.

      I do agree that the baco's are pretty oily but damn, it's up in my alley

      1. You're fucking wrong.

        It's actually worse. Much.

        10 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I agree.

          Terrible spot.

          Nuff said.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            The bacos are the only decent thing there and not all of them are good. Honestly I can't force myself to support the place as much as I do want to like it.

            Find me at Badmaash instead any day of the week at least they know how to make use of the Asian/Middle Eastern spices.

            1. re: Johnny L

              How's the tikka masala poutine? Certainly sounds like an interesting twist on the dish.

              1. re: Servorg

                Its awesome, perfectly cooked chicken and the owners are Canucks so they know their poutinr.

              2. re: Johnny L

                I've been pimping Badmaash for a bit now. Glad I'm not the only fan here.

                As to Baco Mercat, what makes it even more frustrating about the place is that you feel like there's so much potential there that's gone to waste. Like that child prodigy who decides to become a Meth addict.

              3. re: ipsedixit

                I tried one of their sandwiches, took a few bites, thought it tasted odd and opened it up and it was filled with pieces of fat. I lost my appetite after that.

                1. re: bringiton

                  This was my experience as well, bringiton. We went when they first opened and I am sorry to see that those sandwiches are still filled with fat. It was really gross.

                  Furthermore, our server was "on" something...his orbit was not near the planet Earth. Consequently, service was on his time...very, v e r y s l o w.

                  1. re: liu

                    Could not agree more. Fat on a bun and bad service.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      Yep. Not a fan either.

                      But to each his or her own.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  I found the food utterly gross and the service not much better.

                3. Weird. I've had nothing but good food there in about 1/2-dozen trips. I lean vegetarian when I eat there and usually eat at the bar. I do agree that many items are overprices but the baco are not.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: estnyboer

                    What items do you feel are overpriced?

                    I usually feel like they're pretty much average, or below. I mean, looking at their veggie plate prices, they seem about the same as, say, Gjelina's. No?

                  2. I finally went there for the first time, prepared to be disappointed because of this thread. Both my Other Palate and I totally loved it. We had the carpaccio, the hamachi and tater-tottish thing, the brussels sprouts, and split a short rib baco. All delightful. She wants to go back immediately.

                    Only drag was, we were happy to find a full bar, but then they weirdly only have two vodkas available, and crappy ones at that. WTF?

                    Fortunately, we discovered Bar 137 a half block away.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: jesstifer

                      quick Q: where exactly is this "Bar 137"? I know half a block away there are.. Lash and the Must.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Kind of place Bukowski would love ;-)

                              1. re: Seasa

                                yeah, it looks like it.

                                i passed that joint all the time and it looks like it's at the bottom of an SRO hotel down there in the historic core.

                                if i'm not mistaken, of course.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Don't be scared, Kevin. It's a fun dive.

                                  1. re: JeMange

                                    Bar 107 is my favorite dive bar in all of LA. It's a fantastic crowd any day of the week. Cheap drinks, great vibe.

                    2. Another report to echo some others' sentiments

                      Dinner was a disappointment. I thought I had seen baco mercat rec'd here and upon further investigation reports are very mixed, leaning towards bad even. Shouldda known.

                      -Cauliflower was good, if a little soggy.
                      -Hand torn pasta with pork belly sugo tasted great, flavor wise- raisins worked well, kale was a welcome addition, there was something else there that I can't really identify but was unique and tasty. Texture-wise, the pasta was a disaster- complete mush, stuck together.
                      -Stuffed squid had an overpowering odd taste. Like too much cardamom with the shrimp? I dunno. it wasn't bad I suppose, just not to my liking from a flavor profile. Squid "casings" were tasty, especially when mixed with a bit less of the filling. Salad provided a nice balance and was completely necessary towards the end of the dish.
                      -Cold noodles. Kinda gross. They were swimming in romesco which reminded me more of sriracha mayo with pickles. It was way overdressed, sloppy at best. The accompanying carnitas and pork belly were tasty, though seemed like an afterthought just tosssed on top of an already busy dish ("romesco", basil, mint, fried egg). Kept thinking that if this was constructed as a simple basil/mint noodle bed with some pork belly and carnitas finished with a dollop of romesco it might have worked. The egg was completely washed out by other flavors.

                      Service was OK but, and this is the second or third time this has happened to us in LA (Hostaria last week), our server fuckin bounced while we were still eating and left someone else to take care of us. Dafuq is that? You get cut, you finish your tables and get your sidework done. You don't leave. This isn't a mid-day shift change at a bar it's a dinner service, and not a cheap one at that ($70+ pp with drinks). She probably lost out on 10 bucks from us but I'm completely stiffing the next dbag server that pulls this shit. Is "passing off" an LA thing?

                      Also, and this has nothing to do with the restaurant itself, there were several slobs in the place wearing shorts and sleeveless T's, sideways hats, etc. (Is this Jay-Z's fault? Probably.) Does this have an effect on my meal? I guess not but it does sort of cheapen the experience of going out to dinner for me. Maybe I should not have expected anything more, as previously stated I think I had the wrong impression of the type of place this was. Possibly confusing with Bestia.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Beachowolfe

                        I'm guessing you aren't from LA? But yes LA service in general tends to suck on average.

                        1. re: Johnny L

                          I'm not, but I haven't found service to be consistently lacking here, maybe I'll be more aware now.

                          Everything was fine up until that point, it's just the passing off of the table that annoys me. The hostesses were very accommodating, bartenders quick, initial server was knowledgeable. It's maybe not such a knock on BM in particular as it is the practice of passing off tables.

                          FWIW, this probably wouldn't stop me from returning to Hostaria and I don't think I'd ever actually zero out a tip.

                          1. re: Beachowolfe

                            FYI, a lot of time when a server seems to pass off the table, it's because of a mandatory rest break that the employer imposes thanks to California law. It could of course also be the server bouncing at the end of a shift, but it often isn't.

                        2. re: Beachowolfe

                          We went there this weekend, and while we enjoyed our food for the most part (socca with goat cheese and octopus chorizo dish were highlights) we had the same experience with the server "taking a break" in the middle of dinner service. We were eating a little on the early side (6:15) but close enough to the dinner hour that they should really plan better to avoid shift changes and "breaks" in the middle of service. We ended up having to chase down people to get a menu, see dessert menu (don't bother - WAY too sweet) and get our check.

                          1. re: Savour

                            This type of experience is why I always opt for the bar when possible. Bartenders are usually easier to flag down, and seem to be more in the habit of checking on you every now and then.

                            1. re: andytseng

                              Just keep in mind that bar seating there is pretty tight, but it is a fun place to sit for a few drinks and small plates. Overall though I prefer Bar Ama around the corner currently, especially if you go on a Sunday they usually have some interesting taco specials. Good cocktails at the bar as well.

                            2. re: Savour

                              That's not what happened to me. She dipped the fuggout, it was late and way longer than two hastily smoked marlboros.

                              1. re: Beachowolfe

                                Yeah, this "break" was a good hour long.

                          2. This makes no sense to me. I've been there 5 times in 1.5 years and it is some of the best food in LA. And I've had wonderful service each time, though the last three times it has been the same waitress who is wonderful. The food is terrific... original with wonderful flavor combinations. I could eat the Toron Baco every day and never get sick of it. Wow, is it good. The Brussels Sprouts 'Caesar' is a must every time and whatever version of the cauliflower is being served, get it. I love this place.

                            1. Yes, it really is that bad.

                              next question…..

                              if you would be so kind.

                              1. I recently visited and tried one of their fancy baco sandwiches with meat. I opened it up and the inside was stuffed with pieces of fat. It was disgusting.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bringiton

                                  Yeah, you said that in February. Did you go back and have the same experience?

                                2. I'll weigh in on the negative side of this debate. I do not like the bacos at all. I have had the oxtail one and the original, and they are both frankly bland. I have had some very good vegetable dishes here (they are also the best thing at Bar Ama). I don't intend to return to any of Centenno's places any time soon, for the price the quality is just not there.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Haeldaur

                                    i'm not a fan of his restaurants too for some reason or another, they just don't really do it for me.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      I kinda though the Lazy Ox was sorta okay . . . I guess.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Who has a mexican place where you can't get a freakin soda anyway?

                                    2. I completely agree. We were 'treated' to Baco Mercat and ate at the bar this past week. We arrived about 15 minutes after they opened for dinner, and about 20 minutes later we also experienced the shift change that many others had mentioned (although this was the least of our issues). All the dishes we ordered were highly recommended by the servers. The food started off ok with the prosciutto & fig flatbread but went downhill from there. The hamachi crudo was odd. Cold, coarsely cut raw hamachi basically on a huge bed of guacamole with a hot hash brown. I tried a bite of everything at once and it was overpowered by the over seasoned avocado, and I couldn't get past the hot hash brown and the cold fish and avocado, and we didn't finish the dish. We then had another recommended dish, which was probably the worst of the night, the 'shrimp toast'. Huge piece of stodgy bread, topped with over cooked whole shrimp and overcooked fennel at the bottom of the plate. The whole dish tasted like biting into a cardamom seed. Yes it was supposed to have cardamom but we couldn't taste anything else and again, couldn't finish this horrible dish. Finally we had the fried chicken and biscuit. The server said 'you can't go wrong with fried chicken and biscuit' - boy was he wrong... The biscuit was fine and the one thing I liked were the pickles but that was it. The chicken was overcooked and to me tasted like chorizo (maybe they fried it in chorizo oil?). Again, completely overpowered by this weird taste that we couldn't quite describe and some of the worst fried chicken I've ever had. Oh and to top it off, they kept short changing us on the wine by the glass pours, they were like tasting pours. (yes we should've just ordered a bottle of wine). A guy next to us ordered the boquerones and said it was basically like warm anchovy fried fish with honey, and not in a good way... Bill was about $150 for 2 including tip.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: goldfishgrrl

                                        I was there last week too, mostly for drinks, due to friends. The chicken and biscuit was okay...but it was $18! Not sure I'd order it for $8. I think Baco's been coasting for years now - pony up for Orsa & Winston, or hope that the new Pete's will have some of that ol' Centeno magico.