Anticipation of Josef Centeno’s upcoming Bar Amá reached fever pitch recently as a result of Bon Appetit naming Bäco Mercat one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants (Michael Voltaggio’s Ink also received a nomination in this category – bravo for Los Angeles). But nothing prepared me for the day on which my cravings actually led me to leave the 49ers-Packers game on my TV during free DirecTV NFL preview week. I wanted eggs. I wanted a Bloody Mary. I also wanted a Bäco.
I made my overdue visit to BÃ¤co Mercat one cold-for-LA, weekday evening. I stationed at the full bar, in full view of the construction of both BÃ¤zeracs I ordered for the duration of my meal. The red tinge of the storefront neon sign brought a welcome warmth, and it proved quite the perfect setting in which to enjoy each of the small plates that gradually came out.
They are all essentially small plates with big flavor. It sounds so simple, but only Josef Centeno can effectively achieve that. You could also oversimplify the BÃ¤co as a sandwich, but that would be the same atrocity as calling its flatbread a mere pita.
I haven’t had any of the other BÃ¤cos (an offense to be corrected over many future return visits), but the beef tongue schnitzel variety was absolutely divine. The combination of breaded beef tongue and spicy harissa with smoked aioli were like bites of heaven. And there are no words for that secret flatbread, in which Centeno uses “different fats and lebni” – you have to try it on your own. It’s more moist and dense than typical flatbreads while affording a fluffy consistency. I wanted to finish the whole thing right then and there. (Alas, I had ordered too much food.) If I had to move downtown for my daytime vocation, the lunchtime BÃ¤co alone would be a huge consolation.
The thinly sliced pork headcheese with capersÂ was a great way to start off. I also really enjoyed the brussel sprouts, which were made into a warm,Â chopped caesar salad. The Szechuan chicken “ribs” were to die for. They had a ton of spicy BBQ flavor and were super tender – and big.
The “Cocas,” or crispy, poofy flatbreads, are have a scrumptious texture further spiced up with tasty toppings – most pizzas will seem far and away plain boring in comparison once you’ve tried. Mine had a just-spicy-enough salsa verde toppingÂ with anchovies – a perfect savory treat.
There are many more dishes that I can’t wait to try at dinnertime. So between all those and all the different BÃ¤cos I have yet to try, I definitely have my work cut out for me. The full bar is yet furtherÂ enticement. It’s clear that Josef Centeno is loving having a place to truly call his own – and we, the diners, are all the better for it.
Food trucks come and go. I mean, literally. Everyday, they do this. But now we can add to the fleet a truck that is inspired primarily by bacon. Because we all have that vegetarian friend whose sole weakness is strips of pork – so you know that centering a truck around one ingredient is, well, putting all your pigs in a very big, fail-safe basket.
Yesterday afternoon, I caught their soft launch in Silver Lake. Heather and Jeremiah Crowley, the masterminds themselves who discovered the magic of bacon at home with their kids, were on board and super excited to be putting their home-cooked recipes out on the road.Â Heather says, â€œThereâ€™s nothing like the scent and sizzle of bacon in the early morning, but we felt it could and SHOULD be eaten anytime, anywhere!â€
TouchÃ©. “Fo sizzle.”
Check below for some mouth-watering bacon applications:
- Smoked bacon, over easy eggs & cheddar sandwich ($6)
- Breakfast burrito with potatoes, cheddar & smoked bacon ($6)
- Brioche french toast sandwich filled with crumbled bacon & bacon bourbon maple syrup ($6)
- Bacon pancakes served with bacon-infused bourbon maple syrup ($5.50).
- “The Bacone” – 3 strips of bacon, rotating inclusions ($4)
- “The Baco” – Potatoes and cheddar in a bacon shell served with horseradish bacon sour cream ($4)
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
- Chicken wings covered in bacon hot sauce, topped with hot sauce-covered bacon and served with bacon blue cheese dipping sauce ($5)
- Frisee au Lardon sandwich with fried egg & vinaigrette on toasted brioche ($6)
- â€œThe Lardonâ€ – BLT Nueskeâ€™s peppered bacon, butter lettuce & tomatoes and St. Agur Blue Cheese served on toasted baguette ($6)
- Lark brownies with bacon Nutella spread ($3.50)
- Lark sugar cookies ($3.50)
Desserts come from the popular Silver Lake bakery, Lark.Â As for refreshments, theÂ truck serves canned soda, water and even fresh-squeezed OJ if you’d like Vitamin C with your bacon breakfast.
I very much enjoyed my Frisee sandwich as well as The Baco. And I can’t wait to try other things on their menu. So whether you catch a soft launch (soft stop?) of theirs while they iron out theÂ menu and operating kinks the rest of this weekÂ – or wait til their hard launch on Monday -Â be on the look-out for the Lardon truck via their Twitter account (@getyourlardon) and Facebook page. Your bacon cravings demand it!