Of the many high-end Mexican restaurants to open downtown in the last few months, Provecho is the most recognizable as, well, a Mexican restaurant. This isn’t to say that your grandmother would mistake it for El Torito or anything. There are the requisite $35 tequila shots, foie gras whatevers, $10,000 lighting fixtures and booths stuffed with the impossibly beautiful young. The full roster of ceviches (yellowtail with jalapeño, lobster with tequila, charred octopus with kumquat-habanero salsa) is closer to L.A.-style sashimi than to the catsup-flooded concoctions flung out of local taquerías, and the pricey milanesa is made from Kobe beef. But ex–Republic chef Gabriel Morales is a local guy who just happens to have a decade of classical training, and I suspect his taste memories of al pastor were formed at bootleg carts on the Eastside and his concept of machaca at his mother’s knee instead of from books. Which means that his tacos may be stuffed with duck confit or rillettes instead of beef head or pork stomach, but they are tacos to the core.
Provecho, 800 Wilshire Blvd., downtown; (213) 489-1406 or www.provechorestaurant.com.