Downtown Los Angeles isn’t shy to welcoming new bars and restaurants.
Within the big little city places have closed, moved, and returned but what always seems to remain is the frequency of eateries opening their doors for the first time. I love to see a restaurant wipe down the counters and welcome in new guests because it’s a beautiful moment where optimism towards the future is at its strongest.
To my own fault, the restaurant opened early in November 2016. At the time, my excitement prepared me to visit them shortly after, but the holidays and launching a new project set me back a bit. Six months to be exact. Although I didn’t make it in for the honeymoon phase of the Mezcalero’s opening, to go in when I did still felt like it was.
I visited Mezcalero in Downtown Los Angeles with a food friend Corey of Miss Foodie Problems. In the outdoor seating we sparked a conversation while looking over the menu. It didn’t take long for us to come to the simple conclusion that cocktails and tacos would be necessary for the night’s dinner and with that agreed upon, we started with the former.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree upon a single cocktail between the both of us. Maybe not so much of a bad thing as ordering three unique drinks gave us the chance to explore the cocktail menu of the restaurant. As the kind waitress returned to our table, she placed our drinks in front of us. We shared the Unseaworthy, Smoke Em if You Got Em, and the Oaxaca Shame ($12 each). I could tell immediately that I liked the Unseaworthy from the first sip. It was thanks to the mint and coconut cream that aligned with the fresh pineapple juice offering a light foamy taste to a tart flavor. Combining that with the strong Sailor Jerry spiced rum and Jamaican over proof rum made it a drink that was easy for me to finish. The Smoke Em if You Got Em was a close second as I loved that they created a tequila based cocktail that mixed in burnt tortilla syrup and kosher salt. The drink was strong, weighted, and tasted smoky. It was a complete contrast to the cocktail prior, but I would soon come to notice that at Mezcalero the pairing of opposites work well together. As the final drink, the Oaxaca Shame was nice and appealing however it didn’t win me over as well as the first two. The cocktail was made of Hendricks gin, mezcal, creme de violette, and absinthe amongst other ingredients. It was a simple, straightforward, and clean cocktail that didn’t have much of the excitement as the others. It would be nice drink to sip on throughout the evening, however if you’re looking for something with a bit more definition to it, opt for the first two. To try such varied cocktails that were crafted to give each glass a distinct personality was a nice way to find a favorite. While it’s not an easy task to do, it definitely tastes good to figure it out.
In between sips of the three drinks Corey and I dug into the house made Gucamole ($10) and Elote ($5). I found myself digging tortilla chip after chip into the guacamole just to get more of the rich taste of it. I loved the chunks of avocado that made their way through the dip and citrus flavor that was an underlying accent to it. Pairing it with the salty chips would be an obvious way for me to create an addiction. I tried to calm that down by taking forkfuls of the corn that was topped with chipotle, aioli, lime butter, guajillo pepper, queso fresco, and Mezcalero’s house chili seasoning. The corn was sweet while the toppings were anything but; this was a second appearance of contrasts. The combination was so delicious that I easily sunk myself into another addiction within the plates. That quickly came to a halt as an assembly of tacos arrived to the table.
With tacos at $5 each, Corey and I didn’t resist getting each taco whose description excited our taste buds. Before us we had Chicken Peanut Mole, Barbacoa, Squash Blossom (not pictured), Duck Carnitas, and Al Pastor tacos. It was a lot, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Sampling each taco it was clear to see that there were flavors that stood out with each one.
The molcajete salsa gave the asada taco a taste that made me return for more bites than I would like to admit when you’re trying to share with another person. The barbacoa appeared simple, but the tender braised beef made the taco taste delicious. The marinated pork and pineapple would clearly be what allowed the pastor taco to be so delightful, but it was the creamy peanut sauce that gave the peanut mole taco a distinct taste that I didn’t see in any of the others. I enjoyed the sweet morita sauce on the duck carnitas, however I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved the squash blossom taco. With no meat or fish in sight, the vegetarian taco topped with poblano peppers and a vegetarian cream and cheese, was surprisingly perfect to me. It was light, colorful, and although it was made of all vegetables it was still filling.
At this point we should have thrown in the towel, but when a plate of Churro Balls ($7) came out, we couldn’t resist. It’s so hard to say no to fried dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar paired with a mousse and once I saw it, I had no will to do so. The balls were warm and crispy on the outside and the heat maintained as I reached the soft center. The sweetness from the sugar and cinnamon alongside with the creamy and airy mousse only made it the best way to close the dinner.
After saying goodbye to Corey for the night and leaving the restaurant, I was so glad that I finally made it to Mezcalero. Sure it took me a few months longer than I would like to admit, but the point is I got there. To see Mezcalero who opened in November full of guests enjoying cocktails and food in April was great to reflect on. Their optimism of a bright future, opening only a few months ago has carried on to a new year and I can only hope it continues for years to come.
- Food tastes great
- Friendly staff
- Nice location
- Structure or street parking only