Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mo-Chica Now Open on 7th Street

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 |

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Derby Day Is Upon Us: Seersucker & Hats Welcome

This Saturday is the first leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, better known as the Kentucky Derby.  At 3:23 on Saturday afternoon, the field of horses will begin their one and one quarter mile race to win the prize at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  Fortunately you do not need to be in Louisville to experience the pagentry and excitement of this legendary race.  Several venues here in Los Angeles will be hosting viewing parties, two of which are of particular note:

Hollis Bulleit, the heiress to the Bulleitt bourbon empire, will be hosting her annual derby party at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar in Downtown LA.  Admission is $20 and attendees will get to munch on barbeque and sip on mint juleps crafted with Bulleit bourbon.  The event is a benefit for Speed Rack, which supports female bartenders with breast cancer.  The first hundred folks through the door will receive a special glass and prizes will be awarded for best hat and best bow tie and seersucker.  I have attended this event in the past and can vouch that it is a good time.  Nobody has better hats than Hollis.

For those whom one type of julep is not enough, Marcos Tello will be mixing a variety of cocktails at the Los Angeles Athletic Club's 2nd Annual "Hold Your Horses" Kentucky Derby viewing party.  Entry to this fest includes an extensive Kentucky Derby inspired buffet (think Kentucky hot brown sandwiches, pecan tarts etc), a Marcos Tello handcrafted mint julep, live music from the Bastards of Belleville (a gypsy jazz quartet), and games.  As a bonus, attendees will receive a free drink at Seven Grand following their Hold Your Horses fest attendance.  In addition to his trifecta of juleps (Gin, Georgia and Kentucky), Tello will also be pouring whiskey flights.  Tickets are $35 and reservations can be made by calling (213) 630-5255.

Tello's juleps include a Gin Julep with inspired by Harry Johnson's 1882 bar manual that includes Bols Genever as its base, a Georgia Julep with Remy Martin VSOP Cognac and a Kentucky Mint Julep with the classic bourbon base.  All the juleps will include the traditional mint leaves and if you haven't had one from Marcos, then this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Either way you can't go wrong as you get to sip on mint juleps, eat some rather tasty Kentucky cooking, dress in your finest hats and seersucker and turn two minutes of race viewing into a whole afternoon's worth of adventure.

Seven Grand: 515 W. 7th Street, DTLA | 213.614.0736 |

LA Athletic Club: 431 W. 7th Street, DTLA | 213.630.5255 | LAAC event website