Ricardo Zarate, the Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef of 2011, has opened the new incarnation of his original restaurant Mo-Chica on 7th Street in the heart of Downtown LA. The restaurant, which was previously in the food court Mercado La Paloma near USC has migrated to larger shnazzier quarters across the street from Mas Malo and Seven Grand and next door to Bottega Louie. Mo-Chica serves a modern interpretation of Peruvian cuisine, with some Japanese influence.
A new addition to the Mo Chica menu is a cocktail program designed by Deysi Alvarez of Picca, Chef Zarate's more upscale restaurant near Beverly Hills. The list is short with six cocktails and has one standout, the Oaxacalifornia Love (pictured above right). This cocktail is a mix of mezcal, tequila, lime juice and pineapple gomme. The mezcal provides a spicy and smokey element that elevates the drink. The Pisco Sour is also recommended.
During a recent friends and family meal I had the opportunity to try several dishes on the menu. A highlight was the Colita de Res ($14), a savory oxtail dish that was packed with flavor. The grain it is served on top of, trigo de mote, was a great accompaniment. This is a must order. Another dish which shouldn't be missed is the Pan Con Tuna ($10). Spicy tuna, rocoto sauce and yuzu mayo are served on top of grilled bread. A simple take on spicy tuna but is absolutely new and delicious. This may be the next spicy tuna on crispy rice.
There are both communal tables and individual tables at the new Mo-Chica. The interior feels spacious and even includes another room in back for additional seating. The location is on a happening block is well situated for dropping in for a bite while sampling the many cocktail bars nearby. Some will miss the haimish vibe of the Mercado, others will embrace the larger canvas the 7th Street location affords. Zarate reopened Mo-Chica with his front of the house business partner Stephane Bombet who was everywhere on my visit, ensuring that this opening goes smoothly. This may be the only place in town to try Alpaca while sipping on a craft cocktail. That alone is reason to visit.
Mo-Chica: 514 W. 7th Street, DTLA | 213.622.3744 | www.mo-chica.com