To speak of food in Los Angeles is to talk about the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Southland.
Bäco Mercat, the just-opened restaurant in Downtown L.A. from Josef Centeno of Lazy Ox Canteen, shows the gamut of that discussion on its plates.
The blue signs that demarcate L.A.'s neighborhoods, so often strongly associated with the area's dominant ethnic group, go a long way to explaining the collection of culinary influences we find in the city's restaurants. And at Bäco Mercat, Centeno's signature sandwich ($9) reflects those influences through a litany of fillings.
When the Bäco flatbread is folded over pork and beef carnitas, the plump, doughy round feels closest to the taco tables of Highland Park. Then the bread morphs, chameleon-like, into a dish you might find in Little Armenia when the filling is vinegary chicken and the cilantro-heavy Yemenite sauce zhoug. Yeah, it's called El Pollo--yet somehow it still makes sense.
Bäco Mercat is also serving coca ($9), a pizza-like Catalan flatbread that manages a trick other thin-crust pies in town fail at: Each slice stays crisp from crust to point. You aren't going to find a margherita here, however--the closest Centeno comes to Italian tradition is a coca topped with confit tomato, burrata and smoked jalapeño.
Bäco Mercat, 408 S. Main St., Downtown; 213-687-8808 or bacomercat.com