Baco Mercat is located on Skid Row. Literally. The Office for Skid Row housing is one block away. If I haven’t scared you with this information on their location, you are willing to brave downtown traffic, and you are willing to pay for parking, then put this place in your GPS.
As everyone who knows me or reads this blog already knows, I love great bread. I will go miles out of my way to buy it and eat it. Bäco was originally a sandwich made with crispy pork belly and beef carnitas, and is the name of the bread they make and serve here. The bread was so popular that it became the basis for this place which specializes in sandwiches made with it and a crispy variation called Coca which serves as a kind of flatbread for toppings.
I wanted more than simply a sandwich so I ordered the caramelized cauliflower with garlic, tomatoes, sour cream, and green onions for $8. Although I’m not a cauliflower lover, I liked this vegetable side so much I took what I could not finish home with me!
I had the pescado Bäco with crispy shrimp, sirancha, and cole slaw for $11. Although the picture may make it look a bit too creamy, it was not. It was a perfectly dressed, slightly spicy slaw, with two large lightly breaded butterflied shrimp, all encased in the famous bäco bread. I could easily eat this once a week!
I had to come back for the beef tongue schnitzel bäco, with harissa, smoked aioli, and home made pickles for $10 because they had sold out of it by 1pm. Selling out of a tongue schnitzel sandwich is a great sign! I came back the same week around noon to be sure it would still be available and I was thrilled with my choice.
The hearty portion was succulent, tender (a sign of properly prepared tongue), and the accompanying pickles, arugula, aioli, and harissa made this unusual combination a standout. Just as I will travel for food, I will get down here by noon to get this bäco!
The picadillo coca at the next table looked so good that my friend ordered it. With house ground beef, tomatillo, cheddar, and crème fraiche on a crispy version of the bäco, she was so impressed, she also ordered the chocolate root beer (made in house) our neighboring table was drinking, and she loved the chocolate root beer so much she took a case home!
Our neighboring table ordered the banana semifreddo with mixed nut brittle and caramel ($8), so of course in keeping with the neighboring table’s menu choices, my dessert eating friend ordered the same thing and was so happy with it, she finished every last spoonful. She declared it the best dessert she’s had in ages, which is a huge compliment from a former pastry chef for Michel Richard!