The Hollywood Reporter's 20 Most Influential Chefs in Hollywood
If downtown L.A. is the most dynamic dining scene in the city at the moment, Centeno is its most virtuosic chef.
He was an eclectic interpreter of the gastropub trend at Lazy Ox Canteen before opening the boisterous Baco Mercat (408 S. Main St.) nearby in 2011. Its Mediterranean-meets-Asian menu roams from flatbread sandwiches with shrimp and sriracha to hamachi crudo with Abkhazian chile. In December, he tapped into his Tex-Mex past with Bar Ama (118 W. Fourth St.), where he's turned down-home Frito Pie and Velveeta-esque bowls of queso dip into must-orders for urban sophisticates.
By fall, he expects to open Orsa & Winston, with inspiration deriving from Japan. "I want to expose people to ingredients that I feel are meant to be together," says Centeno, "even if they're not commonly known to go together."
Where else Centeno eats: Gjelina, for the escarole and sunchoke salad.