It's Lunch Time: Go Bonkers at Baco Shop!
If you’re a LA foodie like me, you’re probably familiar with chef Josef Centeno’s downtown hot spot Baco Mercat. Since 2011, the restaurant’s menu has served as the culinary meeting point for Eastern Mediterranean, North African, Southern European and Asian cuisine. Centeno’s talent for fusing seemingly disparate flavor profiles into synergized bites of deliciousness are what continue to keep his reservation books full and his approach to cooking relevant. Nothing could be more representative of that eatable truth than his signature baco sandwiches. Grilled or braised meats, fresh vegetables, spices and tangy sauces all folded into a pocket of homemade flatbread.
Earlier this year, chef Centeno decided to address the overwhelming demand for his distinctive sandwiches, by opening up Baco Shop in downtown Culver City. Another popular lunch or dinner fast-casual spot for those of us who work and live in the area, Baco Shop offers bacos, bacorritos (thinly rolled and grilled dough—burrito style) or bowls filled with your choice of coffee-rubbed steak, sriracha Chile shrimp, slow roasted pork, green herb chicken or fried chicken. If you’re a cheese lover, the baco melts (choice of cheddar or mozzarella and meat) are the way to go while the vegetarians can enjoy the fava fritter (fava hummus). Gluten free and/or bread-avoiders can get their fill on whole grains and burrata with a choice of meat if they like.
An array of seasonal salads and vegetables, including little gems, pickled beets, eggplant & garbanzo, and summer corn just to name a few, sit behind a glass case near the register. Pasta and potato salad starch up the “Sides” menu as well as my absolute favorite side—cheddar hash browns. They look like little fried donut holes—golden brown and gooey on the inside when you pull the piping hot balls apart and dip them into the house-made sriracha ketch-up. Refreshing cucumber & lime, or watermelon auga frescas are available to drink along with sodas, beer and wine. Rice pudding, peanut butter cookies and a daily flavor of soft-serve satisfy that afternoon sweet tooth.
In addition to the cheddar hash browns, I typically get a Chile shrimp baco. The shrimp is marinated in savory spices before it’s grilled and dressed with the tangiest special sauce. Buttermilk cabbage, radish and mint bulk up the pocket while the herby secrets of the flatbread itself hold all the flavors together.
I happened to be there in March on opening day where unsuspecting patrons were treated to a free lunch on the house just for trying it out. I’ve been having lunch there on a weekly basis ever since. If you don’t get downtown much and you’re a fan of elevated street food, visiting Baco Shop is a perfect way to experience what all the fuss is over chef Centeno and his off-the-charts culinary creativity.
Location: 9552 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 (424) 258-6301