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Family-Style Dining: Dining for this event has been designated as Family-Style. The food bill will be split evenly between all attendees. Attendees will be responsible for paying for their own beverages. Please note that flexibility is an important part of family-style dining, and if you want to take a chance on attending, you have to be amenable to what the group/AO will order. You don't have to eat everything that is ordered, but everyone pays equally, whether you eat everything or not. Why this policy? The goal for family-style dining is to allow for the entire group to sample as wide a variety of dishes as possible. If one or more attendees choose to order on their own, that limits the group's choices, which defeats the purpose of what Family-Style Dining is all about. If this definition of Family-Style Dining doesn't feel comfortable, this may not be the right type of event for you.
If you're a fan of Chef Jose Centano and of his first solo restaurant, Bäco Mercat, then you've probably been anxiously waiting for his newest endeavor, Bar Ama, to open and open it did on December 15. If you haven't heard about Bar Ama, you can read the LA Weekly article below:
"Josef Centeno dubbed his new restaurant "Bar Amá" in homage to the foods his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother cooked in his native San Antonio, Texas. (Amá is short for mamá.) But don't expect a replica of their kitchens. "It's the food I grew up with, but my version," says the chef.
Bar Amá is slated to open Sat., Dec. 15, just down the street from Centeno's Bäco Mercat in downtown's Old Bank District. At first, hours will be 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday through Saturday.
Many scorn Tex-Mex for its "Macho Combos" and "Pancho Villa Platters." But Centeno counters that the cuisine began simple and homey. His mom would make fideo soup from just water, beans, tomatoes and pasta, for instance. Restaurants later began adding gobs of sour cream, clumps of guacamole and gluey orange cheese -- all heaped onto plates bigger than your head.
Centeno strives for innovation, not authenticity. His plan to infuse Tex-Mex with new influences should come as no surprise to fans of Bäco, or Centeno's time at The Lazy Ox Canteen. Both restaurants blend global flavors covering Europe, Asia and Latin America. Centeno also aims to emphasize quality execution of Tex-Mex concepts.
Like the puffy taco -- a deep fried tortilla that fluffs up as it absorbs oil, rather than forming into a hard shell. It is then crammed with meats, cheeses and guacamole -- "really decadent," says Centeno. He'll make each to order in a fryer dedicated to just that purpose. Puffy tacos are rare outside of Texas, so they may be new to even the most zealous L.A. taco fans. (The only local purveyor is Arturo's Puffy Tacos in Whittier.)
Angelenos might also not recognize sopaipilla -- a fried pastry crust that can be served sweet (filled with honey and sugar) or savory (packed with meat and beans). Cabrito (baby goat) and chicken fried steak are menu highlights too. Tex-Mex staples include fajitas, chalupas, chile verde, and chile con carne. Also look for "Mom's mole," "Dad's burger," and "Grandma's menudo."
Complement your meal with tequila and mezcal, including sotol and bacanora varieties. Ginger agua fresca is available too, and "Bäco Pop" sodas in flavors such as tamarind-mango, pineapple-cinnamon, root beer-chocolate, and hibiscus.
As with Bäco, Centeno designed Bar Amá himself. The space, designed to seat 72 guests at 2,100 square feet, was previously Urban Noodle and an empty retail shop. Centeno mounted wood paneling and painted tiles along the walls to create a cozy, warm feel. Accents such as orange napkins, red chairs and multicolored string lights add pops of color. No sombreros or Pancho Villa posters -- or combination plates -- in sight."
I love how the food at Bar Ama will be influenced by matriarchal recipes and just reading the descriptions is definitely making me hungry and I'm still full from dinner. Anyway, I don't have too much experience with Tex-Mex cuisine but with Chef Centano taking the lead, I'm sure this will be a delicious dinner. I hope you can join me.