Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado

[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.]

Foodie Heaven

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PWhat 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.

For Starters

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

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 withTequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P 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.

Childhood Memories

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

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.

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

 

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

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PAnother 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

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

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!

The Evolution of the Tequila Bar by M.A. “Mike” Morales

mike morales, the evolution of the tequila bar, tequila, la capilla, mercado

Tequila Aficionado’s Mike Morales describes in a dynamic format with text, video, and photos, the evolution of the tequila bar from old Mexico to present day Santa Monica.

Excerpt from The Evolution of the Tequila Bar:

From the early 1930s to the late 1950s, Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema exposed the world to Los Tres Gallos Mexicanos (The Three Mexican Roosters), popular male mariachi singers of the day.  Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante and the legendary Javier Solis often portrayed gallant singing cowboys suffering from unrequited love and heartbreak.  Those definitive black and white movies also gave a glimpse inside the iconic cantinas, the first real tequila bars, where these films’ most memorable musical moments occurred.  Experience it by clicking here!

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A Tequila Fact Most Don’t Want to Admit

tequila fact, Marco Antonio Ramos Monterrubio, catadorTequila newbs will often namedrop.

It gives them away every time.

A controversial sound bite from my upcoming dynamic article, The Evolution of The Tequila Bar, featuring Mercado restaurant and bar in the heart of Santa Monica, CA.

Marco Antonio Ramos Monterrubio, the former manager of Mercado, reveals the one tequila fact that most don’t want to admit.

Explore this and the one tequila fact that most don’t want to admit with Mike Morales and Marco Antonio Ramos Monterrubio at Mercado in Santa Monica.  Click here to read more!

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Tequila Cocktails – the 3 Secrets by M.A. “Mike” Morales

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M.A. “Mike” Morales’ short video interview with mixologist Gilbert Marquez of Mercado restaurant and bar in the heart of Santa Monica, CA, reveals Gilbert’s three secrets to memorable tequila cocktails.

Click here for 3 Secrets to Memorable Tequila Cocktails

 

 

Read also:

Destination Cocktail: Irish Poet by Gilbert Marquez

March 16, 2013|By Jessica Gelt | Los Angeles Times
The Irish Poet, a cocktail created by Gilbert Marquez at Mercado in Santa Monica, tequila cocktails
The Irish Poet, a cocktail created by Gilbert Marquez at Mercado in Santa… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

In a city that could be considered the melting pot of the world, it’s only fitting that our pick for a St. Patrick’s Day cocktail is Mexican. Created by mixologist Gilbert Marquez for Santa Monica’s nouveau Mexican restaurant Mercado, the drink is called the Irish Poet. The spicy libation is fueled by the smoky flavor of mezcal, the heat of seeded poblano peppers, the zing of fresh lime juice and a lick of chipotle pepper-infused salt. Inspiration for the drink struck Marquez after a riotous tequila-drinking session with a loquacious Irishman in Mexico.

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times article

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Approachable Tequila Cocktails by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Gilbert Marquez, mixology, bartender, storyteller, tequila cocktailsGilbert Marquez explains the finer points of introducing the uninitiated to tequila and how to gently ease them into the world of the aficionado through finely crafted cocktails.

Click here to see M.A. “Mike” Morales’ interview clip on Approachable Tequila Cocktails.

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The Concept Behind Mercado

mercado, santa monica, tequila bar

“The brainchild of long time friends, serial restaurateur Jesse Gomez and celebrated Executive Chef Jose Acevedo, Mercado, recently voted Los Angeles Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of 2013, has rapidly gained destination point status even among locals.”

Click here to see Mike Morales’ Mercado interview.

 

Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, Mercado serves as the third installation of a classic and contemporary Mexican restaurant group that includes El Arco Iris in Highland Park and Yxta Cocina Mexicana in Downtown LA. With an inventive mix of food, atmosphere and tradition, Mercado reflects the heart and soul of Mexican dining. Architect Poonam Khanna designed the modern and intimate space for an upscale and comfortable experience.

The menu exemplifies the cuisine and flavor of Chef Jose Acevedo’s and co-owner Jesse Gomez’s Mexican roots, featuring items such as Chef Acevedo’s signature carnitas, created from a recipe handed down through generations. With tortillas made by hand daily, the finest meats, poultry and seafood, enchiladas and tacos, produce from the local farmer’s market, flavorful sauces and everything made from the freshest ingredients, Mercado offers handcrafted Mexican cuisine, artful design, a warm atmosphere and friendly service. 

Mercado’s bar offers over 60 premium Silver, Reposado and Anejo Tequilas, as well as mescal, and 12 draft and bottled beers. Try a creative cocktail like the New Fashioned or Del Bosque. We have happy hour at the bar and communal tables Monday through Friday from 5 to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 6pm.

Click here for the Mercado website.

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Unlocking Mercado’s Mexican Spirits Treasures

mercado, santa monica, tequila, fortaleza, mexicoWelcome to Mercado where they keep the spirits of Mexico locked in a treasure chest of amazing proportions!

Click here to see Marco open the vault!

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