FOOD SCOOPS: BAR AMÁ

By REBECA ARANGO
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AT A GLANCE:
BAR AMÁ 
118 W 4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

GOOD FOR: Grabbing a drink and a snack after a movie (open till 12am on weekends), a dinner date or even a festive party of 6-8.
BAD FOR: Showing up at 7:30 without a reservation (especially with a big group), desert (not the best).
PRICE: Food $5-$30, most dishes around $12; Drink, $5-$16, Cocktails $11-12
VIBE: Hip, comfortable, cozy
DRINK: Tequila cocktails with fresh house juices and syrups, Mexican and Californian Beers, European wines.
EAT: Chef Josef Centeno’s elevated take on Tex Mex: ceviches and small vegetable plates, tacos, and heftier wood-roasted meats (you can even get a 1/4 goat).
HIGHLIGHTS: The Puffy Tacos are a must-try.

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Following the super-success of his unique, flatbread-centric Spanish joint Baco Mercat, Chef Josef Centeno decided to give Downtowners a few more tables to fight over.

Bar Ama is just around the corner from its big Baco brother, and has inherited the same on-point design and casually-hip atmosphere.

Sold. The only question left is: how’s the food?

For starters, it’s inspired by the Tex Mex home-cooking Centeno grew up on. Naturally, he’s given it his own gourmet spin, pushing things like Mondongo Soup and Mom’s Fried Rice to the pinnacle of their potential. Everything is made fresh from top-notch ingredients (which hopefully makes you feel better about spending $11 on guacamole), and the menu even lists the farms where the animals you’re about to eat grew up.

 

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Like at Baco, Bar Ama’s menu is designed to be flexible. You could go there and have a hundred-dollar feast, or scoop up one-or-two delectable small-plates for a satisfying but affordable little dinner. And while some plates may be more substantial than others, you can expect a fiesta of complex flavors and spices out of nearly every bite. Peep the details from our dinner there below.

 

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Avocado, quinoa and scallop ceviche; a textural mash-up of smooth and crunchy, with silky spiced avocados beneath crispy scallops. Like everything here, it’s not blow-your-head-off spicy, instead, chiles are reigned in to harness their flavor without the burn.

 

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The puffy tacos, deep fried in peanut oil.  These ones are shrimp with jalapeno cream. There’s an ideal balance of cream and heat that just floods your whole mouth.

 

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The Kale and Zucchini Calabacita; baked veggies in a comforting tomato sauces pulled straight out of the oven, sprinkled with cheese, and brought to your table. A strong hint of garlic gives the whole thing a slightly Italian feel. This is what vegetable soup should taste like.

 

 

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