Pettycash Taqueria. It’s an all-star team of heavy-hitters in the food world. Taking over from Playa (and before that Grace) it is spearheaded by Bill Chait with Walter Manzke and Tijuana’s acclaimed Guillermo Campos Moreno from Tacos Kokopelli directing the menu. Further, Bill Esparza, the guru behind Tacolandia, is entrenched as well.
From the giant mural outside (don’t dig it at all) to the new space that feels funky and energized (mostly dig it save the rolls of toilet paper and/or paper towels easily visible stacked on a shelf above the bar area, um, gauche and kind of gross) this is a taqueria/Tijuana/East LA/playroom/hangout/bar/communal restaurant with prices that won’t break the bank and a menu of nibbles and cocktails that already has folks lining up due to the no ressies policy (eh). The Monster heads over ready to get down on some chow (but apparently not take great pics because el camera decides to be sans juiced batteries so get ready for some iphone fuzziness, apologies).
It is useless to put your name in until your whole party arrives because they won’t even add you until this occurs. Fine and dandy and totally get it, but then why pretend to at all like they did? Saddled up at the bar and the next of many “interesting” nuances of the place are revealed. Those large bottle of beer aren’t beer at all, they are repurposed here as water bottles. All for recycling.
A couple of drinks are ordered along with the wild arugula and gem lettuce salad with mission figs, roasted peanuts and avocado dressing. This salad is outstanding, a bit of heat (from something in the dressing but what?) and lovely flavors. Similarly, the baby beets with grilled corn, black quinoa, kale, tamarind, pistachio, and cotija cheese is absolutely marvelous. The night, despite a few setbacks (like the fact the crispy Brussels sprouts don’t arrive and you have to close your tab before being seating) is off to a palate pleasing first act.
Once seated (communal tables, the new norm it seems) the Brussels sprouts (with morita-cauliflower crema) arrives and it sings as well. Then the guacamole and chips are slapped down and it may be one of the best renditions available in LA. Prepared fresh per order, only the chips (a little thin) are to be faulted. A second order is quickly rang up. Huge chucks of avocado, tomato, the right balance of seasoning, perfect.
Both the Main lobster tostada with tomatoes, raspberries, avocado and basil and the shrimp tostada with sungold tomatoes, avocado and lime are tasty but you only want to order one, they are so similar in presentation and taste. In this case, save the dough and opt for the shrimp which are much cheaper.
So far, so great. Service is friendly if not completely harried (wrong dishes brought to the table a few times). The food has hit the right notes. The incredibly loud room (INCREDIBLY) is buzzing. Even the basically hidden and signless bathrooms can’t bring the mood down.
And then the tacos happen. Charcoal grilled octopus, chile arbol, peanuts, jack cheese. Baja fish beer-battered Alaskan halibut, pico de gallo, cabbage. Doradoes, crispy rolled potato tacos, avocado, tomatillo, cotija cheese. White prawn, adobo, jack cheese, black beans, peanuts. And weirdly, for a place with the street cred of those involved and their taco/acumen, this is where the entire table felt Pettycash faltered.
They range from pretty good (fish) to decent (octopus) to fairly unappetizing (potato, shrimp). At a place like this they should all be great. With time they very well might be given who is involved.
Fried potato taco…
So there you have it, Pettycash has a lot going for it and feels like the bones are there for an extended run and success.
Why go? Surprisingly fantastic salads yet weaker than imagined tacos.
Monster rating: 3½/5 Monsters
7360 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036