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The Sycamore Kitchen


I feel like I’m in Portlandia, help! #hipsters #brick #brunch #foodie #coffee #tragicallyhip #portlandia


Opened by Quinn and Karen Hatfield, the duo behind Hatfield’s on Melrose Avenue, this is a prime brunch spot, coffee meet-up, and more.

The Sycamore Kitchen
143 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca

RIP: Dar Maghreb

I’d hate to think of what went down in the private rooms …

There aren’t many Angelenos who haven’t spent a birthday or two at Dar Maghreb growing up in L.A.

If Ed Debevic’s or Benihana were getting old, this was the solution.

Now shuttered, this super fave L.A. landmark will always hearken rings of bells and memories of bare skin.

Belly dancers, pillows, the feeling you are Agent Walker seducing Simon after being chased by KGB through the souk.

Dad, can i have some more ones for Divya?

Ring-a-ding ding.

The great thing about Dar Maghreb were the booths — big enough to fit your entire divided L.A. family — plenty of room for the steps, exes, halfs and adopteds.

Remember the tea? The how-high-can-I-pour-the-tea contest?

Andrew Gruver of Saddle Ranch — the only place in L.A. that sells where you can get horseshoes — is now on some city paperwork attached to the Dar Maghreb address. Camel Ranch?

Definitely the best part of a night out at Dar Maghreb was the tables of white t-shirt and shorts wearing tourists on either side of you. Wrong stop my friends. This is fine Moroccan dining.

It’s seems like a far off notion now to be sitting around thinking of where to go on your birthday and say … Hmm, Mr. Chow, Eveleigh, maybe that new Laurel Hardware … No, wait, I know … let’s take it up a notch …

After 40 plus years, an amazing run for any restaurant, especially in L.A. where many venues are on the 18 month obsolescence plan.

Thank you for my dinner towel.

The chicken dish with the powered sugar on top is called B’Stilla.

ma’a salaama

Jesse Gomez — Owner of Mercado in Santa Monica, Princeton Grad

Jesse Gomez

Our L.A. native radar recently turned to this Highland Park native who graduated Princeton and grew up in a thick restaurant family — who today has opened Yxta downtown and Mercado in Santa Monica. Meet Jesse Gomez, 3rd generation angeleno, and star on the restaurant scene. Jesse is someone, with whom we have mutual friends, that we have admired for a long time from his solid restaurants skills, solid food (which he always credits to the chef), and solid personality (did we mention he’s really, really good-looking?). He recently opened Mercado this past May 2012 in Santa Monica (not to be confused with SBE’s Mercato in West Hollywood), and we went to check it out and get to know Jesse a little better … Highly Truffle Approved!

Where do you currently live in LA?


Where did you grow up in LA?

Highland Park, Eagle Rock

Where did you go to high school?

South Pasadena

College? Major?

Princeton, Psychology

Did you play any sports in high school? What were you into?

Basketball Team Captain / nerd

How did you get your start in the restaurant industry?

Family business started in 1964. El Arco Iris.

What was your first job out of college?

Field deputy for a city councilman

Best memory / fave thing about growing up in LA? Worst?

Growing up without a dad but had the best set of grandparents a kid could ask for. They taught me a lot and showed me around LA and Mexico

Best memory / fave thing about high school? Worst?

Playing basketball and the friendships I made. Quitting the (basketball) team my senior year. Getting into Princeton.

What are your go-to websites during the day?

Eater LA, yelp to check our reviews, OT to check our reviews, Facebook, [this last one got a truffle chuckle]

What are your current restaurant involvements and your position within them?

Owner / operator at all three [Arco, Yxta, Mercado] but spend most of my time at Mercado right now because I have to build it. I’m at Yxta mostly at lunch time right now. Arco, I just do some minor stuff like menus changes, etc.

What is the next step for you?

Open another Mercado in the next year and I am working on a bar that serves food for early 2013 in downtown LA.

Tell us a couple lesser known cool things about LA you dont think people would know.

That you can get amazing food in almost every pocket of the city.

Where did you get your furniture from for Mercado? Tell us about the recycled aspect.

Cleveland Arts, reused or refurbished industrial stuff that looks cool and is functional (ie. our lights are old conveyor belts).

What are the most popular items on the menu at Mercado?

Gringas, ceviche, guacamole, carnitas, carne asada, flan.

When did Mercado open?

May 1, 2012

What has been the biggest obstacle or nightmare scenario you’ve faced opening Mercado or another restaurant?

The time it took for us to open the restaurant. It took a year. Should have been 6 months. Santa Monica is a tough city to open a restaurant in.

What has been the biggest break or gift that you’ve had opening Mercado or another restaurant?

My landlord downtown [for Yxta] had been very supportive and helpful since the day I signed my lease.

Who is your immediate team at Mercado and where did you find them? Or how did you meet?

Chef and partner Jose Acevedo I met 8 years ago when we opened Taleo Mex Grill in Irvine. He is one of my best friends. Cathy Sudo does all my money stuff (payroll bills etc.), she is one of my best friends. Marco Ramos was a tequila rep for Fortaleza and now my manager at Mercado.

Give us a few of your inspirations for life in general — people-wise, and otherwise.

  • George Biel, owner of Houston’s restaurants, one man privately owning over 70 restaurants blows my mind.
  • My grandma Irene Montes who taught me my work ethic and inspires me everyday to grow and succeed through hard work and desire.
  • My mom who teaches me everyday how to be an amazing parent to my kids when I have them.
  • My ex-professor Yxta Murray [who I named my first restaurant after] at Loyola Law who is a great friend and amazes me with her brilliance and positive persona. [Jesse did one semester at Loyola]
  • My dad who passed away when I was little, he’s the only person in this world I try to impress on a daily basis.

tacos, kale salad, carnitas, margarita




Dining room


Secret Mexican coke stash

This app on Jesse’s iPhone let’s him control the music, lights, fans, temperature and monitor the security cameras from anywhere in the restaurant

Recycled lighting fixture from Cleveland Arts