Mercado la Paloma - world class cuisine just blocks away. LA Weekly and Pulitzer Prize Winner Jonathan Gold knows good food.

The amazing food adventurer Jonahtan Gold, who once ate at every restaurant on Pico from downtown to the beach, thinks that
Mo-Chica may have the best Peruvian Ceviche.

"Peruvian ceviche, tart with citrus, is one of the greatest raw-seafood preparations in the world, a dish that ranks with crudo and sushi in inspiration," Gold writes.

He tells a great story about a visit to Peru, where after the police pointed a gun at him, drove him by a jail and then shook him down for $200, dropped him off at a place where he would have the best ceviche in the world.

"I bring this up because the ceviche at Mo-Chica, a brand-new Peruvian restaurant in the Mercado La Paloma complex south of downtown, may be the best ceviche I have had since that day: cubes of sushi-quality tuna in a thick vinegar emulsion sharp with chile, soft and tart and brutally spicy all at once, served with slivered red onion, a half-ear of giant-kerneled corn and a soft chunk of sweet potato."

"Ricardo Zarate, the chef-proprietor of Mo-Chica, is a Lima native who has spent most of his adult life cooking in high-end Japanese restaurants, at a well-regarded modernized izakaya called Zuma in London and as the executive chef at Wabi-Sabi in Venice, which was a favorite of my predecessor at the Weekly, Michelle Huneven. He knows his way around the big Japanese seafood wholesalers downtown; he knows his way around a fish," Gold writes.

Mo-Chica is in Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave.,
View Larger Map (213) 747-2141. The Mercado is a beautiful space filled with art and flowers and smells and taste and languages and cultures.

Or as a Pulitzer Prize winner would say: Mercado La Paloma is a complex a couple miles south of downtown, a vast warehouse remodeled into something resembling the communal marketplace of a midsize Mexican town, with stalls selling Oaxacan crafts, freshly baked bollilos, hand-embroidered dresses and what looks like schoolbooks designed for Yucatecan kindergarteners. There are still big paintings on the walls — this month, they seem to feature paintings of battered taco stands — hung near the Eastside murals that are all but mandatory in a place like this, and in the sporting-gear shop, Fernando Valenzuela shirts still hang near replica Chivas uniforms and jerseys bearing the names of Kobe, Manny and Pau."

Read the whole story, full of nuance, that captures the spirit of where we live.

Mo-Chica: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free delivery with minimum order. Lunch for two, food only, $18-$36. Recommended dishes: causa;ceviche;seco de cordero;arroz con pollo.

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