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Mo-Chica: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Mo-Chica is, at the moment, everybody's favorite example of the redemptive qualities of Los Angeles: a simple lunch counter, opened in the nonprofit Mercado La Paloma south of downtown, which propelled Peruvian-Japanese cooking into the first rank of local cuisine; expanded the city's palate to include exotic flavors like the tart-hot rocoto pepper and the musky herb huacatay; and earned its proprietor, Ricardo Zarate, Food & Wine's Best New Chef award, one that does not generally go to guys who run Peruvian lunch counters. Peruvian-Asian food is not hard to find here, and it may not be a surprise that Lima native Zarate worked for several years as the chef of a sushi bar before opening this place. His experiment here is professional Peruvian cooking with first-rate ingredients at popular prices, and the ceviche may be the best in town: cubes of sashimi-quality tuna in a thick vinegar emulsion sharp with chile, soft and tart and brutally spicy, served with the customary corn and potato. While the physical space may be just a few rickety tables plunked into a corner of La Paloma, the crab-enriched potato-salad causa is as carefully composed as a three-star appetizer, and the stir-fry lomo saltado is made for once with the traditional filet mignon. In Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 747-2141, mo-chica.com. Mon., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. & 4-9:45 p.m. No alcohol. Guarded lot parking. MC, V. Peruvian.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Mo-Chica
miles

3655 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90070

213-747-2141

www.mo-chica.com