For many folks in the culinary scene, the best Mexican cooking in America might be at Rick Bayless’s restaurant in Chicago. It doesn’t matter that he’s a gringo—many a hard-core lover of Mexican delights has been wowed by Bayless’s deep connection with the Mexican culinary soul.

Now we have our own Bayless spiritual outpost, the new Red O. Rick Bayless isn’t in the kitchen, nor does he own the place—but he designed the menu and trained the staff.

The menu is partly traditional, partly Cal-Mex. There’s grilled Mazatlan blue shrimp tostaditas, with roasted garlic mojo, avocado, and fresh jicama chips. It’s a surprisingly complex, balanced dish, says kevin h.

One of the best dishes is a rare woodland mushroom ceviche. “I loved the interplay of the earthy mushrooms with the sweet and vegetal notes of its various accoutrements, and how the heat of the serrano built up so eloquently on the long, lingering finish,” says kevin h.

anothernotch‘s favorite was a corn and goat cheese tamale: perfectly balanced, slightly spicy, and incredibly creamy. “Perhaps the best tamale I’ve ever had,” says anothernotch.

Another highlight: tinga poblana, a braise of pork shoulder and belly, chorizo, chipotle, avocado, tomatoes, and potatoes. It’s got a lovely char and a great lingering spice, says kevin h. And pollo en mole poblano is beautiful: pure, mild chicken melded with a surprisingly nuanced mole. “It had the trademark flavors of sweet, smoky, and spicy, but the savor was far more integrated with the chicken than I’d imagined it would be—so complex, layered, confident,” says kevin h.

There is so much more: wonderfully tender, dark beef short ribs on sopes; smoky-sweet pork belly on stout masa sopes; immensely flavorful slow-cooked duck stuffed into taquitos.

Red O [Hollywood]
8155 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

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