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Red O-No: It's A Mixed Bag of Tricks at Red O

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Los Angeles has an ongoing love affair with Mexican food. Angelenos mock Tex-Mex, sign petitions to support food trucks, and generally treat tacos like a major food group. So it’s no wonder that when a gringo Chicagoan signed on to consult with Red O, throwing around the idea that he can do Mexican better than, well, Mexicans, eyebrows were raised and scoffs were audible. Rick Bayless has been doing (award-winning!) Mexican food for a long, long time. But he’s been doing it in the cold Mid-West, where even a simple chile relleno is likely to titillate that meat and potatoes crowd. Bringing that fare to LA? Daunting. Bringing it to fashion forward West Hollywood? And charging fine dining prices? The man’s got some huevos. Now, several months after Red O made its debut, it’s time for Eater to check in with the critics, bloggers, ‘hounds, innocent bystanders and (sigh) Yelpers for a final report. Feel free to take a stab at Red O in the comments section down below.

The Three-Star News: First, “In addition to the irritating treatment at the door, Red O exhibits all the trappings of this season's trendy restaurant: a trio of hosts to vet the guests, a romantic tropical décor, a tequila lounge and long-tressed babes by the yard,” and then SIV gushes, “...the guacamole comes out unadorned, fresh and chunky, simply ripe avocadoes smashed and stirred together with lime and a little cilantro. The chips are golden and crisp and not a bit greasy, the salsas — either a lilting green tomatillo sauce or a complex, seductive guajillo salsa, wickedly balanced. I can't stop eating any of it.” [LAT]

The Meal of a Lifetime News: “if i could award this restaurant 10 stars, i would. i had one of the best meals of my life here...” [Yelp]

More Good News: “The chicken cazuelas are understated, seemingly content to let the cream do the talking. I enjoy the chunks of al dente yucca, but am quickly distracted by the more robust flavor of the lamb cazuelas. The supple shreds of meat arrest my tongue, delivering the knock-out punch I was anticipating from all the restaurant’s offerings. It is by far my favorite dish of the evening.”> [Diana Takes A Bite]

The Cocktail News: “A very brief cocktail list was subsequently presented to us... One of my dining companions chose the Market Margarita [$12], with fresh cucumber & honeydew melon muddled with agave nectar, Arette blanco tequila, lemon & lime juices. I... ordered the Mojito Mexicano [$12], composed of muddled mint, cilantro, serrano chile, lime & agave nectar, and Arette blanco tequila. It was actually one of the better mojitos I've had in a while, a great twist on the classic with the added depth and character of tequila.” [kevinEats]

The Mixed Review News: “Starters, like the ceviches and grilled Mazatlan blue shrimp tostaditas, are light and colorful. However, we found the chicken mole poblano, braised pork tinga poblana and some of the other heartier dishes tended to be either too dry or too sweet.” [Gayot]

The Kinda Bad News: “the theme of the night, at best, was cloying, one-note flavors.This food has complexities if your idea of refinement is ketchup or alfredo sauce! The sope felt more like a puffy taco, and the pork belly didn't wow.” [StreetGourmetLA]

The Bad Service News: “So does the food make up for this stellar service? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It was bland, bland, bland. I could have really used that uneaten portion of salsa the runner was in such a hurry to remove to add some flavor to my entree.” [Yelp]

The Really Bad Service News: “What a terrible place! The food is AT BEST mediocre, and certainly less interesting than most "hole-in-the-wall" establishments in town. And the service...wow...the service. The attitude of the wait staff is almost comical in how astonishingly bad it is.” [Eater Comments]

The Dreadful News: “In contrast to the favorable reports I have seen so far, I and two friends had a (nearly) uniformly horrendous experience at Red O last night. Service could not have been nicer and could not have been much worse: they brought us first the wrong bottle of wine, and, later, the wrong check (much, much less than we owed...we told them, thank you very much). I don't really care too much about service in a new place so I don't hold this against them -- but the disappointing food I do. This is a city with such amazing Mexican food, do we need a "Mr. Chow-is-to-Chinese" Mexican Equivalent? I don't.” [Chowhound]

The Bayless News: “Who cares if Bayless is in the kitchen? He has no authority, all he does is consult and train the staff. They will ultimately succeed or fail based on the people here not hired guns from Chicago.” [Chowhound]

The Second Chance News: “I usually like to give a place a second chance before I say I won't return, but since the people at the table next to us kept sending their food back (ceviche tasted fishy) I thanked them for saving me a trip. I'd rather go to Malo for margaritas and there are a million other places with more creative cocktails.” [Yelp]

The News According to Jonathan Gold: It’s “expense account restaurant food... It’s Mexican food but not the type of Mexican food that you’d recognize if you mostly go to taquerías or enchilada places in LA... it’s very, very lounge-y, there’s a guy at the door with a clipboard, the people in there are very pretty... They do very good sopes... super crisp... filled with things like carefully cooked pork belly...” [Good Food On The Road]
— Daniela Galarza

Red O

8155 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90048 Visit Website

Red O

8155 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046

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