At Masters of Taste in Pasadena this spring I met some great restaurateurs, one of them being Bret Thompson. So when I was invited to do a tasting at Pez Cantina, I jumped at the chance.
It was a busy lunch hour in the heart of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles. I parked my car far way so that I could walk around downtown and take in the vibe before indulging my culinary senses, so obviously I was hungry.
My waiter Christopher Mesa was spot on as well as General Manager-Jesus Casas, who made sure I was happy all through my lunch.
The décor is fun with great nuances from Mid-Century Modern, with a Latin flair. There is a great open kitchen, with lightwood planked floors. A big punch of color highlights the interior with Aqua blue walls, and aqua blue umbrellas out side. Big over stuffed brown leather club chairs make for one comfy experience. There are 3 banquets with Spanish tapestry type upholstery, and a raised area with orange walls, and drop down retro light fixtures, perfect for a large party. With two outside patios you can enjoy the great spring weather. The bar area is a bit more intimate.
Here’s what I tried:
Hibiscus Berry Margarita Tequila, hibiscus sour, fresh lime, agave, and seasonal berries. A bit tart, but just a nice way to start my delicious lunch.
Guava Margarita, this is their special margarita of the day, sweet and luscious, a true winner.
Chips and Salsa Flight, including: Salsa Chipotle, Roasted Jalapeno, Salsa Negra, Poblano Crema, Hacabero “Mustard”, and Salsa Diabla. Each one of these dips had its own unique flavor profile and all were so perfect with their amazing hand made tortilla chips.
Kompachi Sashimi Salad with Abaha ponzu sauce, with grilled mushrooms and shaved vegetables. This is a special dish of the day, and it is just amazing. The fish was super fresh and the flavors were off the charts, I truly enjoyed this starter.
2 Ceviche Tostadas, daily dive, traditional preparation, and chile puya aioli. These were the size of a quarter, so you should be able to eat all of them with no problem, and they are unique and different.
Shrimp and cauliflower taquitos, with gazpacho salsa, poblano crema, and cabbage pico de gallo. I am a lover of taquitos, I just adore the fact that they are a compact roll with meaty goodness, and in this case it was shrimp, which is also favorite meat of mine.
Grilled Baby Back pork ribs, with chipotle-bacon marmalade, butternut squash, cashew butter, and onion rings. Ok, I just can’t say enough about these ribs, there are fall off the bone tender and the accompaniments were divine. They give you 2 onions rings, which for me is more then enough, but the rings were just delicious.
Loreto Style Fish Taco, Pacifico beer batter, handmade tortillas, with lime aioli, slaw, salsa negra with rice and beans, Cilantro-lime rice, black beans “de la olla”. The batter on this taco is cooked to perfection and the fish was very fresh. The side dishes that came with it were also nice. The black beans had a fantastic Mexican cheese on top that gave the whole dish a nice creamy zing.
Corn Esquites, ancho chile butter, lime and Parmesan. I just love fresh corn cooked any way, and this side dish is a bit spicy, but enchanted my taste buds.
Strawberry Pistachio Trifle Cake, pistachio mousseline, strawberry gelatin, vanilla bean chiffon, and crème Chantilly. This is the correct way to end my spectacular lunch. The pistachios are crunchy and the vanilla bean chiffon is sort of a palate cleanser, it cooled my mouth down from all of the heat.
William Hill, Chardonnay, Napa 2015. This is my favorite wine of the day, it is creamy yet balanced, and it went great with all of the seafood dishes.
Tangent, Albarino, Edna Valley 2015, this wine was not as complicated as the Chardonnay, but equally wonderful, I enjoyed this wine more with fish taco, it lends itself to fruit forward goodness.
Pez Cantina is the latest project by former Patina Executive Chef and co-founder of Milk Ice Cream Parlor, Bret Thompson. Located on Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles, walking distance from MOCA, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad Museum, Pez Cantina is a sustainable Coastal Mexican-style restaurant and bar serving the freshest sea-to-land dishes in an oasis-type of setting.
The vibe is mostly business people having lunch, but everyone is having fun. The staff added to the atmosphere by being friendly and nice. With extremely lively salsa music, it sets the tone for this culinary adventure.
Its worth taking at trip to Bunker Hill, day or night, this will give you a reason for living. Exciting food that will make you feel like you’re on an exotic vacation.
Mondays 11:30am–2:30pm (Closed for Dinner on Mondays)
Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am—–10pm (Kitchen Closes 9pm)
Friday 11:30am–—11pm (Kitchen Closes 10:30pm)
Saturday Brunch 11am–2:30pm; Saturday Late Lunch 2:30pm–4pm;Dinner 5:00pm–—11pm (Kitchen Closes 10:30pm) Brunch Sunday 11am–3pm
401 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
* Note some content was taken off of their website.