[On March 4, 2019, Founder Alex Perez was on hand at a special Tequila Mandala Dinner pairing that took place at famed restaurateur Jesse Gomez’s second Mercado location in Los Angeles, CA. Here’s Alex’s report on that memorable evening.]
What do you get when you combine one of your favorite tequila’s with a top rated L.A. restaurant? You get foodie heaven!
I had the privilege of visiting Mercado Los Angeles during their Tequila Mandala dinner recently, and I was thoroughly impressed.
In all transparency, my senses had already been excited with their exciting take on Mexican cuisine when Mercado opened a location in Pasadena, CA.
As for Tequila Mandala, this fine line is on my favorites list.
Put it all together, with both owners and the chef in attendance, and it was truly an experience.
We were set up in a private area with some sixty guests who were anxious to get tasting. Co-owner, Jesse Gomez appeared and welcomed all of us and got things going.
For starters, the attentive wait staff brought out jicama shrimp tacos. Crispy breaded shrimp on a jicama tortilla with chile de arbol aioli and Mexican slaw that included bits of mango.
It was paired with the refreshingly tasty Tequila Mandala Blanco and was a perfect accompaniment with its notes of fresh citrus on the nose and sweet roasted agave on the palate.
Barbecue and Grown-up Cocktails
Next up was a beef rib, perfectly braised, with guajillo mustard BBQ sauce and BBQ potato chips as a garnish.
The beef rib was rich, smokey and melted in your mouth. For the small portion that was served, it was very satisfying. I wanted to pick up the bone and eat up the last piece stuck to it–so I did!
This dish was paired with a “Special Cocktail” served by the Mercado bar manager Caesar, and made with strawberry, pomegranate, Aperol and Tequila Mandala Blanco.
It tasted like a grown up’s Margarita. I’ll be experimenting with this one in my own bar, for sure.
The plates kept coming and so did Jesse and Chef José Acevedo, catering to our needs. Their service and attention to every detail was superb.
Next on deck was sope de chorizo con papas with cabbage, salsa de molcajete, crema fresca, tomatoes and cotija cheese.
The sope took me back to when I was a kid visiting family friends in Highland Park, CA. His mom would make delicious handmade sopes.
I started with a knife and fork, then of course, I picked it up with my hands like it is supposed to be eaten. And, the Mandala Reposado was PERFECT.
This is a great reposado and a good example of why I say reposados are making a comeback. Wood and dried fruit on the nose, and the cooked agave still shines through on the palate. Hints of oak, vanilla and coconut also make an appearance.
The Home Stretch
Another tasty offering from Mercado’s menu was roasted chicken on a bed of Mexican rice and mole Oaxaqueño topped with a crispy kale. The nuttiness of the mole was complemented harmoniously by the Mandala Añejo.
This beautiful añejo has dried fruit, oak and vanilla on the nose and sweet dried raisin, oak and vanilla on the palate. It’s an añejo that wants to be like its big brother Mandala Extra Añejo.
The Crown Jewel
Dessert was a chocolate Abuelita tres leches cake over berries and cajeta sauce drizzled on the plate. My mouth is watering just writing this!
Paired with this decadent dish was Mandala’s crown jewel, the Extra Añejo.
In the glass, I smelled dried fruits and nuts along with hints of toasted oak. On the palate, an explosion of honey, vanilla, dried raisins and wood notes.
It is addictive and dangerous.
At Your Service
The hospitality at this Mercado and Mandala event was fantastic.
Co-owners Jesse Gomez and Chef José Acevedo and staff came around to every table making sure all our needs were met. I experienced the same great service and attention to detail at the Pasadena location, too.
Humberto Ibarra, one of the owners and importers for Mandala, and brand manager Moises Rivera, were on hand and visited every table and guest, preaching the Mandala gospel.
I died and went to Foodie Heaven.
But, I’ll be back!