I’m a big fan of “Happy Hour,” and I am always on the hunt for great ones in LA (despite my dueling desire to stay home in comfy clothes with a book). While the “Happy Hour” specials at Mercado aren’t the cheapest deals in town, they do offer some unique treats at prices that I can still justify even with my small budget.
I was first turned on to Mercado by Penny and DawnMarie – epicureans who are great at finding spots with fun, yet comfortable ambiance, memorable food and drinks that will make you smile. They took me there for birthday drinks in March, and I fell in love. When I came home, I told Andy that it was a “must visit” whenever we were feeling flush. Since then Andy and I been back once, and I continue to have only good thoughts about the experiences.
What are we talking about cash-wise? I stick to basics for “Hora Feliz” and head straight for the “100% Agave Margarita.” That comes in at $7, and then you can upgrade to their special margaritas from there. While I normally opt for blended to ease the alcohol, they do not do blended drinks here. So, if you were jonesing for a tequila-flavored slushie, this is not the place. Having said that, I will also admit to being quite the light-weight in terms of drinking. This means that one margarita is all I will need for the evening.
The guacamole here is insane. I know, you are thinking $7 sounds like a huge amount of money, but they literally serve a mound of guacamole with significant chunks of avocado that easily served the Andy and I (in fact, we didn’t finish it). The chips flow readily, and you’ll really want to try it at least once.
What was my favorite “Hora Feliz” food treat? It’s definitely the “Tacos de Papa.” It’s basically two mashed potato tacos. No, I’m not kidding. And yes, they are as incredible as they sound for the carb- (or comfort food) obsessed (which I am). What is actually in the hard taco shells? “Mashed potatoes, cabbage, crema fresca, queso fresco, Yxta salsa brava,” according to their website. But all I really noticed were the mashed potatoes. In fact, I really want them right now! They run for $6, and between this and the guac, I couldn’t finish everything. Is it diet friendly? Hell, no. But as soon as I don’t have to get into a wedding dress, I will be going back for more.
I’m also a big fan of the fact that they have happy hour blocks on weekends (and they are earlier). I applaud anyone who recognizes that frugal celebrating should be available every day of the week.
Is there any downside, other than the calories? For the most part, the “Hora Feliz” is only held in the bar and the high-top communal tables. I don’t love communal dining, particularly when they are short-ish tables. The cozy booths on the other side of the restaurant would be better for dates (so keep that in mind for dinner options). I think they seat six (I can’t swear to that) near the window and eight in the middle of the room, and it can get awkward on dates if you are joined by a party celebrating, or if you are the first one there, and the rest of the table is already occupied. They do try to keep the middle seats empty when possible for separation. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but you should keep it in mind.
Have you tried Mercado yet? If not, go forth and taste (and then report back to me)! I’m eager to go back and sample even more.
Location: We tried the 7910 West Third Street, Los Angeles location. They also have locations in Santa Monica and Hollywood.
Happy Hour: Mon–Fri: 5–7 pm, Sat–Sun: 4–6 pm
Parking: Valet or street