MEXICAN DINING DONE RIGHT
Chef Rick Bayless is one of biggest culinary names in the country when it comes to Mexican food. I’m a big fan of his bold and daring Chicago restaurants and have enjoyed meals at his Red O Southern California outposts on Melrose Avenue, which first opened in May 2010, and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Other Red O locations include Newport Beach and La Jolla.
Bayless is a former winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Master in 2009 and is also a James Beard winner. Other accolades include Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, and best American Chef of the Year. Red O is billed as a restaurant that aims to deliver superior cuisine and service in a stunning vacation inspired atmosphere.
Whether or not you actually feel like you’re on vacation may not be too important as long as the eats and drinks satisfy. At Red O I’ve enjoyed its winning combination of prime steaks and seafood where authentic Mexican sauces are prepared with ingredients that are primarily sourced from local farms using sustainable practices.
At a recent dinner at Red O Los Angeles on Melrose Avenue, we started our family style dinner with the lofty Grand Seafood Tower, which included a half dozen oysters and accompaniments, a whole 1 ½ lb. Maine Lobster, ahi tuna tartare, and shrimp ceviche. This is an indulgent, oversized sharable item that aptly serves two to four people. At $45 it’s a big money order item but if you love seafood, you won’t be disappointed.
Another must-have starter is Mary’s Duck Taquitos with slow-cooked duck leg, tomato-árbol chile sauce, and wild baby arugula. Like I said, consider this a must-have item. The Tortilla Soup with Aztec tomato broth, sautéed onions, shredded Mary’s chicken, avocado and tortilla strips is a house favorite for good reason. Maybe indulging in such grand fashion makes you feel like you’re on vacation. There really is nothing better than a family-style meal where you can share delicious dishes.
If you’re looking for a good cocktail to start, you can’t go wrong with the mezcal La Paloma or the mezcal Red O Fashioned—both are solid. A margarita in this setting may also be a must.
Entrée options include jumbo scallops or Chilean Sea Bass—a favorite of mine—but I opted for the 18oz Wood Grilled Prime Cowboy Ribeye & Lobster Tail. It just felt right to go big and I mean BIG. This grilled prime bone-in ribeye dish comes with fried sweet plantains, crema, traditional black beans, mole negro and a half Maine Lobster Tail. Sure, this is a hefty order but it is absolutely delicious. The steak with mole sauce (yes, I absolutely love mole sauce) really works well together. And the lobster, well, it’s fine, light and delicate lobster—made better with mole sauce! Chances are you’ll be taking leftovers home unless you’re sharing. Either way, you’ll leave extremely satisfied.
I’m often a harsh critic when it comes to Mexican food—believe me I was no fan of the chips and salsa (a basic item) and Red O Santa Monica—but I do love the atmosphere and attention to details at Red O. With a good drink and a delightful dish you just can’t go wrong.
Red O Los Angeles is located at 8155 Melrose Ave. Red O is open daily for dinner and Happy Hour is offered daily from 5pm to 7pm.
Story and some photography by Jose Martinez
Some Photography courtesy Of: Red O Los Angeles