Mercado Taqueria is an excellent choice for those looking for a filling meal at an immersive dining experience. Though Mercado Taqueria is known for their tacos, the restaurant also offers many delicious starters and sides.
At the beginning of every meal at Mercado Taqueria, tortilla chips are brought out for the table to share. I highly recommend ordering the guacamole, which includes red onions, cilantro, serrano peppers and spicy pepitas, with the chips. The serranos and pepitas add a spicy kick to an otherwise bland side, and really made the dish stand out to me. I was also surprised by the texture of the guacamole; the avocado was skillfully mashed and the pepitas contributed to the smooth texture. This dish was both refreshing and spicy, an uncommon yet well executed blend.
I also enjoyed the Cahuenga Cucumber Salad, which balanced traditional and atypical aspects. This salad combines refreshing cucumbers, tomatoes and corn with spicy serrano-lime dressing which adds an unpredictable jolt to the starter. Though I was initially reluctant to try the fried cilantro that topped the salad, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. Usually I find cilantro to be overwhelming; frying it, though, made the dish far more desirable.
However, there was one facet of the salad that I did not enjoy: the spicy queso añejo. Personally, I didn’t think the cheese blended well with the rest of the salad, and ultimately made the dish less appealing to me.
Mercado’s tacos, which are made up of two soft shell tacos per order, look small and mild at first glance. Don’t be fooled by this; however, as the tacos are very filling and every option is bracingly spicy. For my main dish, I ordered the surprisingly vegan Mushroom Chorizo tacos. These tacos each contain two potato chunks surrounded by mushroom chorizo and crispy onions. Though these elements of the dish were remarkable and noteworthy, the most striking detail of the tacos was the mix of sauces spread across the blue corn tortilla. Smooth and refreshing avocado salsa is blended with distinctive cilantro-lime aioli to accentuate the preexisting flavors of the taco and add their own impressionable twist to an otherwise traditional dish.
The prices are on the expensive side, with tacos ranging from nine to fourteen dollars. Though the tacos are a little pricey, they are definitely worth the cost.
Mercado Taqueria has restaurants in Studio City, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and a few other locations around Los Angeles. I went to the Studio City location on Ventura Boulevard. The atmosphere of the restaurant is also very captivating, centering around Mexican luchador culture. The restaurant is decorated with many pictures of luchadors and framed masks. There is also a mural of a traditional wrestling match spanning across an entire wall, with the words “La pelea eterna” or “the eternal fight” painted underneath.