January 12, 2013

Bar Ama (Bar Review)

Chef Josef Centeno has another brainchild, and her name is Bar Ama.  Bar Ama is just around the corner from its better-known, well-famed sister, Baco Mercat.  The two share enough similarities to indicate their relation, but like most sisters, each holds its own.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a hastily-eaten meal at the bar (I'll be back for a proper meal).  In the meantime, here are my first impressions.

Puffy Tacos -- Pork Barbarcoa w/ tomatillo and cumin -- $7 for 2 tacos

The Puffy Taco is to Bar Ama what the Baco is to Baco Mercat . . . or at least it aspires to be.
My puffy tacos were topped with pieces of flavorful pork, tomatillo salsa, and cotijja cheese.  The first one was delicious and crunchy, but the second one -- consumed maybe 5 minutes later -- was less tasty because the shell had already become soggy.  So note to all: consume quickly.

Octopus "Ceviche" -- grilled octopus, kielbasa, vermicelli, pepitas 

While the concept of the octopus "ceviche" is interesting, I wasn't a fan.  The grilled octopus was over-cooked, making the texture a little tough.  The fideo (vermicelli noodles) didn't add much to the dish, and the sauce was only okay.  The kielbasa made everything saltier, which to some may be a good thing, but I'll pass.

Ama's Enchiladas -- carrot soffrito, queso fresco, potato -- $9

The best thing I ate that night were the enchiladas, and you'll soon learn, Ama's style is the way to go.  Cheesy and chock-ful of flavor, Ama's Enchiladas are not only filling, but it provides that familiar kick of heat that is so great about Tex-Mex or just Mex food.  I couldn't taste much of the carrots or potatoes, -- in fact, I thought I tasted some chicken?! -- but it's all good.  Try for yourself!

Overall, Bar Ama isn't bad for a restaurant that's been open for only a month (they opened on 12/15).  Will it ever be as sensational as older sister Baco?  Not clear, but give it some more time, and maybe Ama will start establishing a rep of its own.

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Bar Amá on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Tex-Mex
location: DTLA
hours: Mon-Thurs, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM; 5:30 PM - 11:00 PM ('til midnight on weekends)
websites: { BA | yelp | facebook }
parking: Street meters or nearby public lots
attire: Casual
note: They're open for lunch too!