Named one of our Best New Restaurants in 2017 for its sophisticated Mexican fare, El Mercado Modern Cuisine is one restaurant you don’t want to miss in Downtown Santa Ana. The new spring menu, focused on showcasing not just Mexican cuisine, but Latin American flavors as a whole, just adds more reason to visit.
Highlights from the new dinner menu include the “House Soup,” a satisfying and decadent chicken broth with udon noodles, creamy miso, enoki mushrooms, pickled Fresno chiles, and toasted sesame. A surprising element? Executive chef Bryan Bustos adds chochoyotes (masa dumplings), which soak up the rich broth and adds a fun, unexpected twist on a familiar dish. The crispy pork belly is an optional add-on, but we think it’s a must!
We also love the slow-braised beef shank with creamy homini polenta, pickled red onions, and basil oil and the camarones a la diabla dish with sauteed shrimp, rice porridge, and toasted almonds. Ask your server to “make it green” with spicy salsa verde.
The dishes all pair perfectly with head bartender Cesar Cerrudo’s inspired cocktails that always pack a punch. For a refreshing drink, try the Watermelon Sour with your choice of Jameson Whiskey or white rum, watermelon juice, lemon, simple syrup, and egg white. For something with a little more kick, get the Ruby with Blinking Owl Orange Vodka, pisco viejo tonel acholado, and maraschino. For a sweet and smoky drink, go for the #MercadoModern with montelobos, turmeric liqueur, lime, and mango. Cerrudo fashions a hashtag-shaped ice cube made from a Peruvian non-alcoholic drink called chicha morada, made from purple corn. But, crunch on the ice before it waters down your drink!
Try the new spring dishes now until summer, with new dishes expected to be added before the end of the month.
El Mercado Modern Cuisine
301 N. Spurgeon St.
Photos by Michelle Pagaran