When I first learned about Josef Centeno’s bäco, he was beta testing his taco flatbread mash-up on Tuesday nights at Opus, an avant garde restaurant in the Wiltern Theatre’s shadow. At that point, the form was different (more flatbread than taco), but he already had a trademark. Now, six years into Bäco Mercat’s DTLA run and one month after BäcoShop‘s launch in Culver City, his foresight is paying dividends behind a Lucy & Desi mural.
Ingredients and architecture have changed, but the bäco is still recognizable. Who knows, maybe the bäco will take the counter service restaurant world by storm. Given all of Centeno’s creativity, we may already have another breakout item from his mind in our midst. I nominate the “cheese melt,” basically a quesadilla, but a damn good one, featuring a flakier coat than the more supple bäco, and a far cheesier core. I immensely enjoyed my Cheese Melt ($7) with molten Swiss, mozzarella, and Cheddar cheeses. They provide the opportunity to add protein, and of course that makes sense, especially when it’s braised pork that separates into juicy shreds. Add avocado if you really want to go big. All that’s missing is an umlaut.