Food & Drink

70 tequilas... in Santa Monica

Opening tomorrow, Mercado's a modern-tinged Mexican joint from some of the peeps behind Downtown's Yxta Cocina Mexicana and Highland Park's El Arco Iris -- a wood, leather, and steel-steeped industrial cafe with authentic eats and more south-of-the-border booze than a U.S.-Mexico soccer match where Landycakes does... well, anything.

The menu mashes up traditional shiz w/ more out-there preparations, including handmade tortillas gracing dishes like empañadas stuffed w/ tropical pork picadillo; enchiladas w/ sweet shrimp & yellow mole; and Callos de Hacha, which's jumbo sea scallops w/ pumpkin seed, chipotle-peppercorn sauce, and chayote -- though order too many of those and things could get chugly.

But wait, there's more: slow-cooked carnitas w/ fresh guac, a whole turkey leg w/ Mexican rice & Oaxacan mole, and flour tortillas stuffed with pastor, Oaxaca, onion, cilantro & avocado salsa, a dish they're dubbing "Dos Gringas", so expect 1998 Matt Dillon to be in on this.

You're thirsty? You're in luck: they've got 70+ blancos, reposados, anejos & extra anejos, as well as specialty cocktails like the "La Picosa" (Tanteo Jalapeno, lime, serrano, fresh sour), a mezcal mojito, and the "El Pepino," which mixes Tributo Silver, jicama-cucumber house puree, and fresh sour w/ a chile piquin rim, you know, to give it a bicycle kick.