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Mercado Captures a Modern Mexican Moment in Pasadena

Jesse Gomez’s latest project features bullet art and lots of attitude

Mercado Pasadena
Mercado Pasadena
Wonho Frank Lee

Mercado owner Jesse Gomez has a soft spot for Pasadena. In fact, he thinks highly of his new Lake Avenue restaurant space in particular, given that it was for years a Crocodile Cafe, and Gomez himself — who grew up nearby — used to work for the owners. Now the place is all his, and he’s putting it to good use.

Gomez has once again teamed up with chef/partner Jose Acevedo for this latest outlet of Mercado. The pair have holdings from 4th Street in Santa Monica to West Third Street to Hollywood to Studio City to Downtown, but are moving the Mercado business even further east today to join the growing Mexican food movement in Pasadena. That means everything from choriqueso to start to tortas and tacos to full carne asada plates and beyond, all with a more upscale California aesthetic and backed by lots of booze. The opening lunch, dinner, and happy hour menus are below.

As for the Janel Wright-designed space, look for tall booths, ample bar seating, and a big, wide patio right up front. This Lake Avenue location offers a lot of foot traffic and views to the street, so expect a lively atmosphere come summertime nights. Artist Carlo Nieto III painted the shapeless interior mural, while Orange County’s David Palmer handled the detail work on the bullet pieces near the bar and in the dining room.

Mercado opens this week, keeping weekday lunch (11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and daily dinner (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.) hours. Happy hour runs every day from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Mercado Pasadena
140 S. Lake Ave. #101
Pasadena, CA

Mercado Pasadena
Tall booths dominate the room
Mercado Pasadena
Loads of light inside
Mercado Pasadena
The glowing back bar
Mercado Pasadena
Bar seats aplenty
Mercado Pasadena
Shaded lighting
Mercado Pasadena
Bar details
Mercado Pasadena
The bullet mural on the wall
Mercado Pasadena
Detail work
Mercado Pasadena
The golden bar
Mercado Pasadena
The sunny patio
Mercado Pasadena
The smaller side patio
Mercado Pasadena
The front of the restaurant
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