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Baco Mercat

408 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213-687-8808
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Photo by Anne Fishbein

The menu at Baco Mercat reads almost like a graduate exam in culinary poststructuralism, mixing flavors from Italy, France and western China, Georgia (U.S.) and Georgia (Eastern Europe), Tuscany and Peru. Josef Centeno's take on posole includes a chile-red pork broth, crisps of beef and pork and house-made noodles that happen to look exactly like what comes out of a packet of Top Ramen. Chicken thighs are somehow manipulated to resemble fried pork ribs, then glazed with a sweet, vaguely Sichuan-style chile sauce; whole shrimp are fried with salt and pepper pretty much as they are at Cantonese seafood restaurants — you eat them entire, shell, head and all.

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