Pez Cantina

Photo: Esther Tseng


Photo: Esther Tseng

Bringing the coast of Mexico to DTLA

By Joy Hui Lin

Stroll into this bright, airy spot on any evening and you'll find yourself transported to the summery Mexican seaside. Located a scant block away from Pershing Square on Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles, Pez Cantina’s breezy coastal restaurant concept was inspired by a trip to Baja California, where Executive Chef Bret Thompson and his brother-in-law and investor Israel Ramirez went free diving.

With weathered wood details, a burbling cantera fountain from San Miguel de Allende, and the steady thrum of cumbia music playing in the background, Pez has all the markings of a local favorite. The festive restaurant’s level of attention to detail shows up all over the menu of upscale Mexican cuisine—pairing an icy cucumber basil sorbet with heirloom tomatoes, or incorporating a chilled shrimp broth as part of the delightfully cool, gazpacho-like campechana, before filling it with octopus, shrimp, and oysters.

Be sure to get the creamy verdant poblano crema with your order of tortilla chips, and quench your thirst with the perfectly balanced sweet and tangy Pez Cantina classic margarita. The cocktail menu curated by bar manager Irene Martinez is full of Mexican spices and ingredients; there's even a dessert drink that brings together spiced rum, horchata, and Oaxacan chocolate.

Sustainable seafood is the focal point at Pez Cantina since Thompson and Ramirez wanted to capture the same feeling they get free diving down in Loreto, Mexico, bringing up scallops to eat immediately. The seafood perfectly matches the southern Californian climes, and only gets better out in their outdoor jardín, decked out with colorful lanterns.

On a menu that inspires some gluttony, the dish not to be missed is the Molcajete, a rich stew that comes to the table bubbling hot, served in a stone mortar. Comprised of heady bone broth and chorizo rojo, the dish is filled out with a panoply of meats, nopales, and shrimp. It's a feast and a half—perfect for sharing with friends. Pat your belly afterward and make sure there is room for the churro ice cream sandwich, which comes bathed in an addictive dark pool of Oaxacan chocolate sauce.


Mon–Thu 11:30 AM–10 PM; Fri 11:30 AM–11 PM; Sat 5 PM–11 PM
Closed Sunday

price range

$15 (pea and garbanzo fritters) and $30 (Mojcajete)