The newly opened Pez Cantina, coming to you from Chef Bret Thompson (Milk), is tagging itself as a “coastal mexican kitchen.” Being that I’m ALL about Mexican food, I had to try this fresh take on the classic cuisine. And let me tell you, the food DID NOT DISAPPOINT; other things may have just a little bit.
While the restaurant has the classics you crave when you’re in the mood for Mexican food, they also reinvent the menu with fresh, light items that you aren’t sick of seeing everywhere. I mean, there are two separate taco sections (one for fish, one for meat and veggies), and a whole section just for various ceviches. If that doesn’t get you, I don’t really know what to say.
The two pitfalls of the restaurant: location and decor. Located on Bunker Hill in DTLA there’s not much around that you’d want to do either before or after. Not to mention, the parking is SUPER confusing and located to the left of the restaurant under the building on Grand. It’s in one of those HUGE office buildings where the parking lot is scary (especially at night — use the buddy system) and the lobby/restaurant entrance makes you feel like you’re going into a doctor’s office. It was a more daytime, lunch break feel rather than the ‘it’s Saturday night and I want some margaritas’ vibe I was going for. As for decor, I was confused.. It felt like a Z Gallerie store mixed with a Chevy’s mixed with…the ocean? Where am I people? Also, the designer did something wrong because it was a packed house but for some reason it felt empty. Not a good look. Or feel.
However, I WILL give them some points for a couple of things set-up related: 1) Having a full windowed wall that lets you see into the kitchen and watch everything get prepped (shout out to the taco lady- hey girl). 2) Having a proportionate amount of smaller tables and booths as well as longer tables to accommodate larger parties.
WHAT I ATE AND DRANK (keep in mind, EVERYTHING was good):
Margarita Classica ($11) – Tequila Blanco, house-made sour, agave, mole chili salt. I asked for the skinny version of this (was trying to counterbalance the baskets of chips that were consumed). The ice was almost shaved and it was delish. Not too sweet or sour.
Chips & Guac ($9) – I eat a LOT of chips and guac in my life and when I took my first bite I full on stopped mid-sentence to comment on how good it was. The guac’s goodness FULL ON interrupted my thoughts. Rude in the best of ways. Fresh. light. And you can tell it was made on the spot. The one caveat: there were a few chunky pieces…but no worries, I put myself to work and finished off the job.
Shrimp Taquitos ($10) – with caramelized onion, potato, tomato, pickled cabbage and poblano crèma. These looked more like mini fried tacos rather than the traditional rolled taquito. 3 to a serving and we could’ve ordered more. They were SO good.
Daily Dive Fish Taco ($4) – the fish of the day was cod. Lightly battered and fried and tasted SO fresh. It wasn’t the “filler fish” that it feels like in many tacos.
Oyster Fish Taco ($6) – I mean….an oyster in a taco? Done and done.
Carne Asada Taco Asador ($4) – onions, cilantro and red or green salsa on handmade tortillas. The meat was perfectly seasoned and there was just enough.
Roasted Red Tomato Rice + Chipotle chorizo refried Peruano beans – For $5 you can add this to your tacos. And why wouldn’t you? I shared an order with the boy and it was the perfect amount with our two tacos per person.
Daily Tres Leches Flan ($8) – The restaurant may or may not have confused my reservation with someone else’s who’s birthday it was. And I may or may not have corrected them. Needless to say they brought this out as the b-day cake (told you bdays get you free desserts), candle and all. I am not normally a Flan person, but I could definitely appreciate this one.
Maybe I’ll have an educational museum day soon (MOMA and Walt Disney Concert Hall are around the corner) as an excuse to go back for a lunch break.