Mo-Chica: Ceviche, Oxtail Risotto & Lomo Saltado

Welcome to another edition of Free Lunch, our guest critic series where you're the reviewer!

This week I took the hosts of The Dinner Party Download, Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam, to Mo-Chica just south of Downtown L.A. Rico and Brendan are both radio and podcast personalities, so there was a lot of material to pick from and I had to leave some great banter on the cutting room floor.

The Dinner Party Download guys, Rico and Brendan.

Mo-Chica is a Peruvian restaurant located inside Mercado La Paloma, a community martkeplace on South Grand Avenue just east of the 110 Freeway near the University of Southern California. It's a tiny little storefront among many in the market, and food lovers consider it a gem: Chef and owner Ricardo Zarate recently made Food & Wine Magazine's list of Best New Chefs for 2011. This success continues with the recent opening of Picca, Zarate's new upscale Peruvian cantina on the west side.

Brendan and Rico had been meaning to try Mo-Chica for quite some time. Rico had even interviewed Chef Ricardo for a radio segment a while back, so the guys were ready for this one. They ordered the mixed ceviche to start, which was served in a bowl made of ice, followed by oxtail risotto and lomo saltado, a dish that mixes South American and Asian techniques (which describes many Peruvian dishes).

Mixed Ceviche.

Oxtail Risotto.

Lomo Saltado.

I agree with both Rico and Brendan in that Mo-Chica merits a visit, not just for the food but also to support Mercado La Paloma, which provides services to the local community. It also houses other restaurants and shops, as well as (drum roll....) ample parking in the lot!

Readers, we'd to hear from you. Have you been to Mo-Chica? How about Chef Ricardo's new restaurant, Picca?

Please post your comments below, and by doing so you'll become eligible to participate in Free Lunch. Also, if you have some restaurant recommendations for us, please add them to this discussion.

Keep on Lunching!

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3655 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 747-2141


Guisados: Taco Sampler & Arnoldo Palmero


Cinnamon Vegetarian: (Soy) Chicken Mole & Key Lime Pie

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These guys are smart, too smart


Well, nom!


Loving the Free Lunch series! Haven't been to Mo-Chica or Picca yet, but this post definitely reminded me why I should, and stat. As for a lunch recco, I'll throw out Tinga -- one of my fave spots near the museum where I work -- and Cafe Stella, which I haven't been to yet, but I imagine their mussels & frites to be delicious.


consider me!

brian kaemingk


free lunch! i'll have your finest food stuffed with your second finest.


One of my favorite places.


I kind of love these guys ... almost as much as I love Ricardo Zarate! my favorite Mo-Chica dish is easily the Seco de Cordero. For lunch, I typically eat ramen at Santouka, the chicken torta at Fundamental LA, and I crave the porchetto sandwich at Sotto like a lot.