Nestled on the corner of 12th and Grand, just a stone’s throw from the Staple’s Center, sits barcito. Make no mistake about this Argentinian-focused, haute spot: while Latin flavors run through barcito’s veins, the menu holds elements of classic American comfort to make just about any patron feel right at home. In similar fashion, a novel drink menu sports a broad selection of specialty cocktails, including beer and wine cocktails, that pack a hell of a punch.
Oh yeah, the vibe here is ‘very LA,’ with groups sporting everything from chic formal wear all the way down to well-worn hoodies. The place perfectly caters to all crowds, agendas, and lifestyles that intertwine amidst the hustle and bustle of DTLA. The long bar is perfect for groups and party-goers, while pockets of candlelit tables catering to date nights and intimate groups.
barcito’s food menu is just large enough to provide strong variety, but small enough for each dish to have been perfected over time. The attention to detail shows in a starter as pure and simple as bread & butter, where barcito’s grandma’s bread holds simply the perfect hearty texture made all the more beautiful with a cultured butter topped with sea salt. Throw in some ultra-premium serrano ham and fresh burrata and you could almost call it a night. But of course, barcito goes much further than that.
Empanadas are undoubtedly a staple here. Whether shredded pork, ground beef, or artichoke heart, each comes with its own distinct presentation, but all go perfectly with a bright & creamy chimichurri. Bridging the elements of Argentine and American cuisines are items like the Breakfast Salad, where chorizo, avocado, and perfectly fried egg come together atop fresh greens for a dish suitable for any health-crazed millennial who also has a refined palate. Going even further into Americanized, yet globalized fare is the hot chicken sandwich, where an ever-so-light breading locks in an ever-so-juicy piece of chicken, accompanied by a colorful carrot and purple cabbage slaw and a creamy, spicy honey-infused sauce. And if you come at the right time, the animal-style fries are an upscale take on their namesake, with tender shortrib and chimichurri putting an intriguing spin on things.
barcito backs up its name with a strong drink lineup. Each cocktail incorporates elements of timeless classics with a touch (or sometimes a heavy dose) of something new. Take the flower street, where vodka, lavender-vanilla, lemon and egg white come together to create a slightly sweet taste and bold character. Their house-made shandy, with citrus-blonde ale and ginger lemonade go down smooth, as does a beautifully mixed spritzer with Aperol, lemon and sparkling wine. Other cocktails feature ingredients such as pez powder, maple and tajin, with new concoctions arriving on a regular basis.
Whether you’re at barcito for food, drink, or both, the dulce de leche churros will undoubtedly make your night. An airy batter with deep pockets houses more cinnamon sugar than thought possible, and – as if that wasn’t sweet enough – an addictive dulce de leche sauce turns a good dessert into a knock-out dish.
barcito is located at 403 W 12th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Open 11a – 11p Sun/Mon, 11a – midnight Tue – Sat. Avg. out-the-door cost for small plate, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$60/person. For more info call (213) 415-1821 or visit barcitoLA.com.
Taste of Italy will see its 11th year in Downtown Los Angeles, transforming the plaza surrounding the historic El Pueblo monument and across from Union Station into an Italian Piazza for one very special night. Benefitting the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA), Taste of Italy is set to bring it a who’s-who of Italian restaurants and wineries from throughout the city.
IAMLA provided a sneak preview of some of the tastes to behold at the festival, with a pairing menu at Hermosa Beach’s Sosta, a Taste of Italy participant. Opening last year under longtime South Bay Italian Chef Luca Manderino, Sosta showcases homey favorites alongside inventive creations. Crudo di branzino, heavenly prosciutto and seared ribeye were a few crowd favorites, but ultimately it was the house-made gnocchi al gorgonzola that took the cake. We can only hope that such velvety, melt-in-your-mouth potato pillows make their way to the main stage.
Wines served included Custodi Belloro Orvieto D.O.C. Classico, 2015; Tenuta Carretta Nebbiolo, 2017; and Cascina Adelaide Barolo, 2013. Expect pours from PRP Wine International, San Antonio Winery, Lyra Fine Wine Importers and Castoro Cellars, among others, at Taste of Italy.
Additional restaurants are set to include Factory Kitchen, Celestino Ristorante, Drago Centro, Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse and Jazz Club, Osteria Cal Mare, Brera and Black Market Gelato, among many others.
Taste of Italy is set to take place from 5 – 10pm on Satruday, Oct. 12, with an expected attendance of 2,500 people. Proceeds go to The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to showcasing the ongoing contributions of Italian Americans in Southern California and the nation. IAMLA is located in DTLA’s Italian Hall, constructed in 1908 and is among the oldest remaining structures from Los Angeles’ historic Little Italy. More information and tickets for Taste of Italy available at IAMLA.org/Taste-of-Italy.
The AltaMed Food & Wine Festival, known as ‘California’s prime Hispanic food and wine festival,’ celebrated with a weekend of south of the border flavor and fine wine that spanned across both LA and Orange County. The LA festival, held in downtown’s iconic LA Live, was a sight to see and be seen.
The otherwise-packed streets adjacent to the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater closed to traffic in order to make way for a seemingly endless path of tents doling our bottomless tastes and pours. The city lights shined down on a jovial crowd, with live music from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra igniting the mood.
The festival’s ‘East LA meets Napa’ theme was true to its word, with a smattering of Angelino culinary icons cooking up classic renditions and novel twists on Central and South American favorites. Likewise, an array of wineries ensured that a perfect pairing was always close by. Margaritas and sangrias were free flowing as well.
With a largely Latino focus, it’s safe to say there were no shortage of tacos at AltaMed. From King Taco’s signature al pastor to Maestro’s pork belly tacos, the festival had just about anything that could go into a squid ink, hatch green chile, or just plain ol’ corn tortilla. Tostadas from El Portal and Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria added to the mix, as did Chago’s tortas.
Pez Cantina went all in with a red argentine shrimp a la diablo with scallion slaw, dried shrimp and chili oil. Equally, Honduras’ Kitchen paid homage to its homeland favorites, such as baleadas with refried beans, cream and cheese, and San Pedro sula, or ground beef in fried plantains. La Fonda’s chicken mole and La Huasteca’s tamales, ceviche and chile en nogada were just a few more of the festival’s worldly items.
For a fun play on Latin fusion, Yamashiro and Bike Brewery each served up some great poke wonton nachos. The Chicken Koop’s (extremely) hot chicken easily matched any chile pepper of the evening, and Otium’s meatballs were melt-in-your-mouth. But of all the places to take the cake for most extravagant dish, the award goes to Sysco—yes, the food supplier—who wowed patrons with lobster claws covered in caviar and edible gold leaf.
Desserts were in full force and naturally picked up steam as the evening drew on. Sweet Flour’s tres leches cake, panna cotta and assorted cookies and Gourmeletas hand-dipped ice cream pops were among the festival’s sweet indulgences. Porto’s Bakery certainly came to play as well, with towers of oh-so-good pastries to be had.
Festival proceeds benefit AltaMed, a full-service medical provider to more than 300,000 people in Los Angeles and Orange County. Founded in 1969, AltaMed was established as a free clinic and remains committed to providing “quality care without exception.” 96 cents of every dollar raised go directly to AltaMed patient care. For more information on the AltaMed Food & Wine Festival, visit AltaMedFoodWine.org.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.