Our restaurant review this week is of Mo-Chica, Ricardo Zarate's new downtown incarnation of his super-hyped Peruvian street food joint. We'd love it if you'd give the full review a shot, but for those short attention spans out there, here's your Cheat Sheet.
Food: Zarate has taken the food of his homeland Peru and put an amped-up L.A. spin on it. Sometimes that works wonders, and sometimes it falters, even with the same ingredient. The alpaca estofado mixes the Peruvian protein with Italian technique, the meat served over delicate pasta and topped with a fried egg. Love. The alpaca burger mixes Peruvian protein with American sensibilities for an overly-seasoned weirdness that is more schtick than substance.
Drinks: A serious strong-suit, if we're talking cocktails. From the review: "Tha Doggfather, Mo-Chica's take on a Pisco sour, [is] an awesome balance of creamy and tart; the Oaxacalifornia Love one of the best mezcal drinks around, with the sweet pineapple and spicy rocoto peppers acting as angel and devil on the shoulders of the smoky liquor." The wine, on the other hand, is overpriced and underwhelming.
Looks: Downtown hotspot with nods towards its street food roots. From the review: "In the front room, along one side, hand-scrawled signs are strung up on colorful squares of paper above the glassed-in kitchen; in the back room, the red walls are decorated with artist Kozem's graffiti lettering of the restaurant's name, as well as a streetware-clad alpaca wielding a spray paint can. There's a lot of concrete -- the columns, the floors -- and it's all very industrial and very, very loud."
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Price: The regular small plates breakdown: if you only eat as much as you probably need, you'll be fine. If you order everything that looks good, you'll go broke. Plates range from $7-15, and 3 is probably plenty for one person. But you'll want 6.
Takeaway: This is a loud, fun restaurant with some awesome, brightly flavored food and killer cocktails. It's possible to pick poorly and have a less impressive meal -- for all the details on how to avoid that, you'll need to read the full review.
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