You think Westsiders hate going east of the 405? Well, just talk to Eastsider chef Ricardo Diaz, who’d much rather just stay in Whittier and tend to his growing list of restaurants: Bizarra Capital, the forthcoming Colonia Publica, and Colonia Taco Lounge. (He doesn’t mind going to La Puente.) It took an offer from restaurateur Adam Fleischman to get Diaz to cross the 605 and bring his original brand of L.A. Mexican cuisine to Santa Monica at the new Tacoteca — where the team also includes bartender Gilbert Marquez, who has a delicious and playful menu of mezcal-based cocktails and a selection of around 90 mezcales.
Tacoteca is a restaurant that reflects Fleischman’s style of a highly curated experience — there are craft beers, Marquez handles the liquor, and Diaz has been brought in as an opening chef consultant. Diaz will be around for a week and change, and then it’s back to Whittier; he will return on a contract basis in the future for new menu items as needed.
What started out as mostly a bar-food menu made a lot of room for tacos after the name of the restaurant was announced. In addition to a delightfully gamy lamb barbacoa taco and a tart dry-aged chorizo and creamy farmer’s cheese taco, there’s something for the healthy Santa Monica beach crowd: a mushroom and hearts of palm tostada.
The combination of the mushrooms, hearts of palm, and the ceviche liquid with harmonizing heat accented by sweet corn delivers the texture and taste of a tostada made with the most delicate seafood. Diaz will leave behind a solid menu after all the usual opening adjustments are made, in a restaurant with an ambitious beverage program. Tacoteca is here to give the Westside a much deserved taste of the Eastside.
Tacoteca, 2460 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-828-2115