Peel and eat shrimp, typically the provenance of awkward cocktail parties, get a kickstart at Bar Ama, Josef Centeno’s Tex-Mex restaurant in downtown L.A.’s old Bank District.
Bar Ama was the third stop on a crawl with Centeno’s Director of Operations Genevieve Hardison, who paired the company’s signature BäcoBeer (and other beers) with dishes at each restaurant. Food needed pop to hold up to Solarc Brewing‘s Imperial IPA brewed with sumac and Mosaic hops, but nothing could prepare me for the power of Bar Ama’s peel ‘n’ eat shrimp. Centeno sautés butterflied, shell-on shrimp in olive oil, toasted and cracked coriander and peppercorns, guajillo flakes, garlic, shallots, and peanut-chile de arbol sauce. Soft house-made flour tortillas helped to dull the pain, but didn’t stop flavor from building with each bite. Eventually, I just embraced the fire, devouring the whole plate while alternating between sips of BäcoBeer, Evil Twin The Cowboy smoked pilsner, and Cerveceria Insurgente La Lupulosa West Coast IPA. Sometimes, it’s best to just roll with spice and suffer the consequences later.