No, it's meant to be there. The cocktail underneath is the Sereno, a blend of mezcal, fresh lime juice, house-made ginger cordial, bitters and soda.
You'll get it at newly opened Mexicano in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. In the works for more than a year, this is the latest venture of chefs Jaime Martín del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu, whose La Casita Mexicana in Bell has been the go-to place for really good, genuine Mexican food for 16 years.
And here it is now, laden with Mexican charm. The striped runners on the tables are from Tlaquepaque in Jalisco, the Mexican state where both chefs grew up. The blue-rimmed, handblown glasses are from Mexico too.
The mural behind the bar incorporates important figures in Mexican history and culture. (See if you can find Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.) The paleta cart La Esperanza is a tribute to the ice cream business of Ramiro Arvizu's grandmother. "I grew up making raspados [Mexican style snow cones]," he said.
At Mexicano, raspados are turned into cocktails, with alcohol added. Or try a Mezcalini (above), a snowy blend of coconut syrup, horchata and mezcal, finished off with freshly grated cinnamon, coconut flakes and a cinnamon swizzle stick.
If you live in in mid-LA, you'll be happy that Mexicano is about 10 miles closer than La Casita Mexicana. You'll still go to Bell, however, because each restaurant has a different menu. "We decided to have a short menu the first two months [at Mexicano]. Then we'll gradually add other dishes," Arvizu said.
Here are a few things you can eat there now:
You've probably eaten carne al pastor, marinated pork on a vertical spit topped with a slice of pineapple. Here is the same idea, translated to shrimp.
The two chefs have developed a way to cook tamales to order. Steamed on the grill, they're ready in a few minutes. The one at the front is pork with salsa verde. Behind it is a chicken tamal with mole poblano.
Two weeks after opening, Mexicano was pulling in crowds. On a Sunday afternoon every seat was taken, and why not? What better way to spend Sunday than with good food and drink laced with musica ranchera--recorded for now, but live, possibly, in the future?
Ramiro Arvizu describes the philosophy of the restaurant this way: "Our mission is to create happiness with our food."
Mexicano restaurant, 3650 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90008. Tel: (323) 296-0798.