Mercado, (1416 Fourth St., Santa Monica, 90401) is opening on May 1 with a MexiCali menu of traditional Mexican plates prepared with seasonal and local produce. Menu here. They have a clean, industrial, bright aesthetic with wooden floors, aged chairs and tables. The only hint of Mexico (because it’s not in the decor) is in their name, list of 70 premium silver, reposado, and anejo tequilas and Mexican beers. Like a spicy drink? Try the jalapeno La Picosa or the El Pepino (Tributo Silver, jicama-cucumber house puree, and fresh sour with a chile piquin rim). If sweet is more your thing, grab the Margarita de Jamaica with fresh hibiscus.
After a few drinks, nosh on some shareable plates like beer-battered white fish tacos and fried pork skin salsa verde. Entrees include slow-roasted carnitas with fresh guacamole; empañadas stuffed with tropical pork picadillo; enchiladas with sweet shrimp & yellow mole; a whole turkey leg with Mexican rice & Oaxacan mole, and Dos Gringas (flour tortillas stuffed with pastor, Oaxaca, onion, cilantro & avocado salsa) and Callos de Hacha, (jumbo sea scallops woth pumpkin seed, chipotle-peppercorn sauce and chayote).
Open Monday-Wednesday 5-10 pm, Thursday 5 pm-1 am, Friday & Saturday 4 pm-1 am, and Sunday 4-10 pm.