What to Eat at Mercado, Opening May 1 in Santa Monica

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Acevedo's Red Pig Ale-battered dogfish tacos Photo: Mercado

It feels like we've been talking about the opening of Mercado, the third project from the owners of Downtown's Yxta Cocina Mexicana, for centuries now. But it's only been slightly over a year since Serenata de Garabaldi shuttered on Fourth Street, clearing the way for a takeover from co-owner Jesse Gomez, a third generation L.A. restaurateur (his grandparents opened El Arco Iris in Highland Park back in the mid-sixties), and chef Jose Acevedo.

The restaurant finally, officially, opens on May 1, attempting to bring Santa Monica the kind of upscale Mexican restaurant that has been attempted many times without ever really sticking. The encouraging news is that this is hardly mall Mexican or a family-style retread. Instead, tortillas are made by hand, recipes are passed down from family tradition while still embracing forward progress. Meats are sourced responsibly and vegetables purchased at market, literally around the corner, for dishes like Acevedo's slow-cooked carnitas, tacos, ceviches, daily soups, meat and seafood plates, inventive vegetable dishes, and enchiladas, alongside 70 tequilas, house cocktails, and seventeen beers, both in bottles and on tap.

We have Acevedo's first Mercado menu below to help you decide whether it will be a Monte Alban night or a dinner worth a slightly deeper investment. At first glance, the selection appears pretty captivating (red ale-battered dogfish Baja tacos, turkey leg mole, chicharron in salsa verde). Have a look!

Mercado, 1416 Fourth Street, Santa Monica.

Mercado Menu

Vegetables
Nopalitos - sauteed cactus paddles, chile negro, queso fresco (V) 7
Elote Callejero - grilled sweet corn, caramelized onions, chile piquin butter, queso cotija (V) 7
Coliflor con Escabeche - roasted cauliflower, pickled vegetables (V) 7
Rajas Poblanas - poblano strips, sweet corn, spicy queso añejo, tortillas (V) 7
Chayote con Calabacitas - chayote, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, spicy queso añejo (V) 7

Daily Soups
M - Sopa de Tortilla con Pollo 6
T - Crema de Langosta 7
W - Albóndigas de Guajolote 6
Th - Crema de Chile Poblano 6
F - Caldo de Camarón 7
Sat - Crema de Calabaza 6
Sun - Pozole 7

Salads

Ensalada de la Casa - mixed greens, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes,
jicama, cilantro, spicy pumpkin seeds, Tequila Fortaleza vinaigrette (V) 6
Ensalada de Kale y Arugula - kale, arugula, candied pumpkin seeds, pears,
dried strawberries, fried cotija pesto breadcrumbs, agave-lime vinaigrette (V) 8
Mercado Chopped Salad - arugula, Santa Monica farmers market vegetables,
hibiscus vinaigrette (V) 9

Small Plates

Guacamole - hass avocado, serrano, cilantro, red onion, fresh chips (V) 8
Empanadas de Platano Macho - plantain masa, tropical pork picadillo, black bean salsa 9
Tacos de Jicama con Camarón - crispy mexican sweet shrimp,
chile de arbol aioli, mexican slaw, jicama tortilla 8
Choriqueso - melted cotija, parmesan, oaxaca, house chorizo, poblanos, mushrooms, fresh chips 8
Dos Gringas - pastor, oaxaca, onions, cilantro, chile de arbol salsa, avocado salsa, flour tortillas 9
Tacos de Pescado Estilo Baja
Red Pig Mexican Ale beer-battered white fish, mexican slaw, avocado salsa, chile de arbol aioli 8
Ceviche - citrus-marinated white fish and shrimp, mango, jicama, cucumbers,
red onions, cilantro, serrano peppers, red peppers, grilled pineapple 12
Tamales de Queso con Rajas - fresh masa, rajas poblanas, salsa verde (limited availability) 7
Chicharrón en Salsa Verde - fried pork skin, salsa verde, avocado, tortillas 9

Large Plates
Carnitas - Chef Joses slow-cooked natural pork, guacamole,
chile de arbol salsa, cauliflower with escabeche 18
Pavo en Mole Oaxaqueño - whole turkey leg, Oaxacan mole, mexican rice 14
Carne Asada - Niman Ranch marinated skirt steak, guacamole, grilled corn 20
Plato de Verduras - pick any 4 vegetables (V) 13
Enchiladas de Camarón - mexican sweet shrimp, yellow mole, cilantro lime rice 17
Callos de Hacha - jumbo deep sea scallops encrusted with pumpkin seeds,
chipotle-peppercorn sauce, chayote with calabacitas 19
Pollo en Salsa de Chipotle - Marys free range half chicken, chipotle wild mushroom sauce,
queso fresco mashed potatoes 16
Pescado del Día - todays fresh catch mkt

Sides
Mexican Rice 2
Cilantro Lime Rice 3
Black Beans 3
Smashed Pinto Beans 3
Lumbre 2
Escabeche 3
Chiles Toreados 3
Guacamole 4
Crema Fresca 1.5
Tortillas 1

Drinks
Mexican Coke 2
Diet Coke 2
Fanta (orange soda) 2
Sidral Mundet (apple soda) 2
Agua Fresca 3
Iced Tea 2.5
Coffee 2.5
Café de Olla 2.5
Hot Tea 2
Pellegrino 3