A robust new Spanish marketplace is coming soon to a familiar location in Highland Park. Otoño Mercat will take over the closed Dave’s Chillin’ and Grillin’ space tucked away just off Figueroa, with chef Teresa Montaño of Otoño telling Eater that the project — which has been in the works in one form or another since 2019 — will stock otherwise hard-to-source conservas, snacks, and vermouths, but that the space is ultimately much, much more than that.
“It’s going to take on a bunch of different uses,” says Montaño by phone, “because we realize how much of a market there is for private events, collaborations with all of these awesome music venues near us, and more.” The plan is to provide space for pop-up chefs to come in and cook, for cocktail and brand nights, for product launches, and for fun one-off days like FC Barcelona football games, all in addition to the market and deli itself. “I have some concepts that have been like an itch I need to scratch, that are beyond Spanish food, and I really think this is a great venue for me to showcase that,” says Montaño. That will likely include Montaño cooking some New Mexican food from her home state.
As for product stockists, that’s all still being shored up though Montaño maintains that her market will offer some of the most specialized Spanish foods anywhere in Los Angeles. “I don’t know how many people are going to be slicing the jamon that we’re slicing,” she says. “It will definitely be a bit more specialized and curated.” Expect rare conservas, bread, bocadillos, and other items during the day, before the room pivots to a hangout and bar (with lots of vermouth and cocktails) later in the day.
If the name sounds somewhat familiar, that’s by design too. During the early lockdown days and no on-site dining times of the pandemic, Montaño converted her nearly five-year-old Spanish restaurant to a market for take-home tinned fish, produce, and premade goods under the Otoño Mercat name. She says those hard days did at least introduce her cooking to a whole new batch of customers. The forthcoming permanent market “is a kind of reintroduction to the crowd that met us during the pandemic,” says Montaño. “We became an alternative to going out and standing in long grocery store lines or something. We were a relief from all of that for some people, and it really resonated. We want to be a part of that again for those people.” Expect Otoño Mercat to open for early service by May or June, right behind Otoño on Figueroa in Highland Park.