Virbila Nearly Overdoses on Bäco Mercat; Gold Gets Deep on Josef Centeno

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Baco time! Photo: Midtown Lunch via Flickr

Bäco Mercat kicks so much ass that even S. Irene Virbila admits she's fond of the Downtown restaurant (but only in that two-and-a-half-stars kind of way). After fumbling her way through Skid Row, she asks "what's not to like" about Josef Centeno's new digs, continuing, "The food is gutsy and delicious, the prices moderate and you can drink...well too." She compares the chef to Pierre Gagnaire and thinks David Chang could appreciate his bäzole, finding herself unable to leave without trying a bunch of great-sounding dishes she didn't necessarily come for in the first place. The critic concludes, "At Bäco Mercat, I get the idea Centeno is cooking just what he and his friends like to eat, so much the better for the rest of us who want to savor his quirky global cooking." [LAT]

A champion of almost all things Centeno, Jonathan Gold writes, "If Bäco Mercat were any more of the moment, it would be a Pinterest page devoted to Tumblrs of itself, so that restaurant and metarestaurant could devour one another like Jung's famous snake swallowing its own tail." Wow, we'll have what he's having. Looking at the menu, he notes that it, "reads almost like a graduate exam in culinary poststructuralism, mixing flavors from Italy, France and western China, Georgia (U.S.) and Georgia (Eastern Europe), Tuscany and Peru," while digging on his "spectacular" "deconstruction of pate en croute." Then he flips his lid for the banana cream pie. [LAW]

Pho phenom Golden Deli has expanded to a new Temple City space, but it's not necessarily what you've come to expect at a place J. Gold claims he's "been locked in to my same basic order since Reagan was in the White House." With an ordering system chipped off Chipotle's block, Gold finds "the new Golden Deli may be a tick or two less polished than the original," but also finds "the plates are nicer, and the chicken curry with baguette is first rate." [LAW]

A displaced Texan is looking for Tejano breakfast tacos and actually sort of stumps Mr. Gold. After telling us about a Robert Rodriguez cooking demo that could "reduce Guy Fieri into a whimpering puddle of gel," he points the longhorn to Nick's Taste of Texas in West Covina, where you won't find machacado or breakfast tacos, but can make your own. [LAW]