One of the dearest restaurants to my heart has to be Bacaro LA, which is a wine and tapas bar in South LA by the USC campus. When Ramsay and I first started dating, we would come here several days a week for pitches of Bacaro’s famous sangria, garlic bread, mini pizzas and bread pudding.
Bacaro is owned by former Trojans who believed that USC students, who live in a very dangerous, run-down area, needed something nicer and a great place to go at night.
It began in a very small space on the corner of Union and Hoover, and then expanded into the small space next door as well. But overall Bacaro is a very small, dark space, with an intimate atmosphere. The ceiling is covered in empty wine bottles, and the walls are painted with blackboard paint, allowing the wine and beer list to be written right up there for all to see.
The service is great – everyone is so friendly and obviously loves working at Bacaro. Over our hundreds of visits, we got to know some of the people quite well. When we went to Bacaro to celebrate Ramsay’s first neuroscience paper being published, Andy gave us a pitcher of sangria on the house. It’s that kind of family atmosphere and genuine touches that makes people want to return over and over again.
But now for the most important part – the food and drinks! I have been here so many times and tried so many items I have no idea where to begin. So I will just list my favorite must-order items here!
The sangria here is top-notch. It is actually what inspired Ramsay and I to create our now infamous sangria recipe, which I will be writing a separate blog post about. Bacaro’s sangria is deep and dark, but also super fruity and drinkable. It comes in a bunch of different sizes but the best idea is to just order several of the largest pitchers and just go to town because it is worth feeling like shit the next day.
Too good. When the pizza comes out, so hot out of the oven that you have to wait a solid 10 minutes before even touching it, you’re always disappointed by the small size. But take a few bites – these mini pizzas are sooo filling. A great, cheap way to get some food in without paying tons of money in tapas. And the quality, such as the organic tomato sauce – so amazing.
Bacaro offers 4 different types of bruschette, and you get 2 with each order. I love the Tuscan white bean with lemon, so I only order that one. But the tomato & basil, fire roasted bell pepper and roasted garlic/walnut pesto are also available. The bruschette is hot and the spread is cold, making for a super interesting dish.
I don’t know who Noa is, but she makes some kick-ass cauliflower – and I don’t even like vegetables. The cauliflower comes out hot and covered with chipotle aioli sauce. Everyone can agree that Bacaro has made veggies edible.
Fontina Cheese Panini
I was super-skeptical of fontina cheese, as I am just NOT a cheese person, but this is really good! They load on the cheese (so I take like, half off), arugula and fresh tomato. The panini is huge, and I always think I can eat one and a bunch of other dishes too. Spoiler alert: I can’t.
A great thing about Bacaro is their garlic bread. Often Ramsay and I, or friends and I, will go there and just want sangria. But even when you’ve already had dinner, it’s always nice to nibble on something while drinking. Their starter bread is just $2 and delicious! It’s a mini loaf, sliced into little rounds. They also give you olive oil with crushed garlic cloves to dip the bread in. Such a great appetizer, and you cannot beat the price.
Open-Face Bacaro Burger
As a vegetarian, I can’t personally speak to the taste of this burger. But literally every carnivore I know is obsessed with it, so I thought I’d give it a s/o. It comes with all-natural angus beef, caramelized onion and tomato, according to their menu.
This is my favorite dessert. I’m not a dessert/sweets person, but I am a sucker for bread pudding. Bacaro’s is great. But beware – do NOT come here for dinner and then expect to get dessert. This bread pudding is so so so dense. It also doesn’t mix well with sangria, because the sweetness of both together is overwhelming. But if you’re in a dessert-only kind of mood, spend your calories on this.
Bacaro brunch is the best! Their draw is $1.50 mimosas, bellinis, Bloody Marys and sangria (with the purchase of an entree). Brunch entrees are very expensive and pretty small – I’m always still hungry after – but they’re delicious.
Besides brunch, Bacaro also holds other fun events to look out for. For example, every year they throw a massive birthday party where you pay $20 cash at the door for UNLIMITED drinks and passed food. Yes, unlimited. Sangria, beer, wine, champagne, caprese, etc. They always have live music or DJs and I always have too much fun.
Disclosure: This post is not associated with Bacaro LA in any way. I received no compensation for this post, and I have paid for my own visits to Bacaro, probably about $5,000 in visits to Bacaro over the years – lol.
Also, fun fact – Bacaro is expanding into Playa Del Rey with Bacari PDR – hello, Westsiders!