Some Like it Hot!

Mercado Santa Monica

Take a trip to New Mexico without leaving LA. Step inside this hip, contemporary industrial space and you'll feel like you are in Taos. Chef Jose Acevedo has created the ultimate in upscale Mexican dining. Start your dinner with a round of drinks and be sure not to miss the Blood Orange Margarita. Other margaritas, The Mercado (100% agave silver tequila, triple sec and fresh sour) and Pineapple with Jalepenos are out of this world! Appetizers range from light to hearty. For a hearty appetizer order the Alambes De Arrachera ($17). Grilled skirt steak skewers are topped with cilantro ginger soy sauce. Enjoy the Santa Monica Farmer's Market fresh vegetable that come alongside them. The house made guacamole ($10) (Haas avocados, serrano chilies, cilantro, and red onion) is a sure winner. Chips are hot, fresh, and salty and you'll definitely need more! Another must-try is the Choriqueso ($6) with fresh chips. Melted cojita cheese, parmesan, oaxaca, chorizo, poblanos, and mushrooms highlight this dip. Order two because you won't want to share! If you want a taste of the best Carnitas in LA you've come to the right place! Slow-cooked natural pork, guacamole, chile de arbol salsa and cauliflower with escabeche (pickled Mexican peppers) accompany this succulent meat. ($21) Tacos de Pescado Estilo Baja ($10), one of my favorite dishes, is beer-battered white fish, and Mexican slaw served with avocado salsa.  Carnivores will go nuts for the Carne Asada ($25). Prime marinated steak, guacamole, cebolines, and grilled corn are accompanied by fresh tortillas.  For those brave enough to try cutting it, the Pavo en Mole Oaxaqueno ($15) is a Shelton Farms whole turkey leg served with mole and Mexican rice. Leave room for dessert because the Tres Leches cake is definitely a happy ending. Parking is available in the structures nearby. 1416 4th Street, Santa Monica (310)526-7121

Reservations necessary

Recommended dishes: Carnitas, Tacos de Pescada Estilo Baja, Carne Asada, Guacamole, Choriqueso.

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