With the Downtown revival has come some of the city's best restaurants, in all shapes, sizes, and cuisines. And though schlepping into Downtown, circling the block a hundred times for parking, and waiting an hour for a table is often the way the cookie crumbles, we occasionally stumble on an excellent restaurant that doesn't come with the typical amount of fanfare. One of those is Barcito*; excellent drinks and an impressive menu by Chef Chuck Abair (whose pedigree includes spots like Cafe del Rey), Barcito seems more like a neighborhood gem for locals to gather than a glitzy darling for the town's foodies. Don't get us wrong, though. Barcito comes with plenty of esteem, and foodies will certainly enjoy the Argentine-inspired menu with a contemporary twist. Situated a few blocks from L.A. Live, it's the perfect spot to escape the masses and come grab some delicious fare before a big game.
I started off with a light drink, The Yerba Brava. Though it was a chilly night, I wanted a cool, refreshing drink, and this was like an alcoholic mint lemonade. Subtle, refreshing, and really nice.
To start off, I had to get the chicken liver mousse, which I'm always a sucker for. I really enjoyed their rich mousse, which was tasty and well seasoned. The toasted bread was fantastic, and the pickled veggies were a really nice addition. Put it all together and it was a really pleasing little bite.
The Palmitos Salad was a new addition to the menu and included grilled fresh hearts of palm, candied walnuts, and watercress. I also enjoyed this salad-- it was simple, well dressed, and the watercress was really nice. It was good, but I think there could have been a bit more to it.
As the restaurant has an Argentine flair, I had to get the Empanadas. Meaty on the inside, flaky and crispy on the outside, they were delicious. The little addition of sauce paired well with them, and they were actually really light and fluffy. They were a great example of the Argentine-meets-Contemporary American cuisine, and I would definitely come back for these.
The last entree was the Noquis-- little ricotto-potato dumplings with a pistachio pesto. I loved this take on gnocchi. It was surprisingly crispy on the outside and really soft on the inside, and I liked the crunch that came with the pistachios. They provided just the right amount of pesto, not too much to overwhelm the dish. My companion at this dinner happened to be vegan, and she even put aside her veganism for a night to indulge in this ricotta gnocchi.
For dessert, I'm not even sure if they have a menu, but after discussing it with owner Andrea Borgen (who was walking around, chatting with guests, and even taking orders), she brought out the chocolate mousse and their signature dulce de leche churros. The mousse was really great: rich, creamy, yet light and fluffy. The crispy brittle on top added a nice crunchy element, and I could've easily finished the whole pot of it. The dulce de leche churros were as fantastic as promised. Perfectly coated in cinnamon and sugar on the outside, they were filled with creamy caramel on the inside. They basically fell apart, dripping with caramel (sexy, right?). So good.
Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Barcito. It's another great spot Downtown for a meal fit for a foodie, but I have to say that I thoroughly appreciate the low-key atmosphere (refreshing for this part of town). I would highly recommend checking it out with a group of friends, especially to grab some food and drinks before going to a game or an event at L.A. Live.
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