The happy upswing of downtown Los Angeles — thanks to a substantial influx of investment money and loft dwellers — has meant a culinary renaissance, with many fantastic restaurants opening or reinventing themselves. Perhaps the most important of these has been Bäco Mercat, which chef Josef Centeno (a Texas-born, longtime Angeleno) opened in 2011. Centeno's was a DIY restaurant — the chef built or found or refurbished most of the stuff inside the pretty brick and glass and metal space, and you got the sense that he wired together the recipes on his menu with the same sensibility. The food is a highly personal mash-up of Catalan and Californian and Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine, plus some Middle Eastern and French thrown in for fun. And fun is precisely what you'll have when you eat here, between the bäco sandwiches and bowls of bäzole, the confit duck and waffle rillettes, the crispy bone marrow and slices of banana cream pie. One could go on. But maybe just go eat dinner instead. 408 S. Main St., dwntwn. (213) 687-8808, —Amy Scattergood

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