UPDATE: As of March 16, 2016 the Arts District location of Petty Cash is CLOSED!
I have been wanting to eat at Petty Cash in DTLA’s Arts District for months, and finally it happened. Petty Cash took over the spot that once housed the old Fifty-Seven restaurant on Sante Fe and Seventh. If you are wondering about the name Petty Cash, it’s a combination of the names of singers Johnny Cash and Tom Petty. The restaurant’s menu is Chef Walter Manzke’s interpretation of classic Mexican street food utilizing local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients.
Four of us arrived at the restaurant at 7pm on a Tuesday night. The place was quite quiet, but the crowd picked up as the night continued. Our server (the name on our receipt was Arturo) was so cute. He welcomed us and explained the menu. We started with a round of their signature drinks. The Paloma ($12) was a blend of tequila blanco, campari, fresh lime and mojave grapefruit soda. The rest of us ordered their daily Agua Fresca ($6). For an additional $6 you can add your choice of alcohol. The drinks were okay, but nothing to rave about.
Arturo (really cute!) suggested we start with a serving of their house guacamole ($12) made with avocados from Polito Farms. Again, it was really good, but the serving size was rather small compared to the price.
Now it was time to order… and we almost ordered everything on the menu. The Crispy Brussel Sprouts ($5) were good, but the Pig Ear Nachos ($14) topped with a soft egg were awesome. If you go to Petty Cash, you must order the Pig Ear Nachos.
After placing our order, we really never saw Arturo (still cute!) again. Instead we were taken really good care of by one of the food runners. We didn’t get his name, but he was great, so great that in addition to the 3% Healthy Staff charge added to the bill, we gave him extra tip money. We tipped Arturo too, but probably left him too much because he was cute.
Okay, back to the food… We ordered two of their quesadilla offerings: The Grilled Corn and Poblano Pepper Quesadilla ($12) and the Gringa Style Quesadilla ($12). The Gringa Quesadilla were made with adobo-chile rubbed pork shoulder. Both quesadilla were hits!
Petty Cash has a big selection of tacos. You order them individually and we ended up ordering seven of them. The Baja Fish Tacos ($6) made with negra modelo beer-battered mahi-mahi, pico de gallo, cabbage and topped with crema were delicious. The Al Pastor ($4) and the Maitake Mushroom ($4) were good too. I can’t say the same for the Wood Fire Octopus ($6) or the Cook’s Ranch Pork Belly Carnitas ($6). I love grilled octopus, but this octopus taco was not my favorite.
The four of us got a lot of food and a round of drinks. Our bill was only $150 plus tip. We left filled up, but overall the food was okay. The service was okay, but only because the food runner saved the night. Our night at Petty Cash was a hit and miss. I’m not sure if the hits outweighed the misses, or the other way around. I guess I need to go back and get another order of the Pig Ear Nachos and try it again!
Petty Cash 712 So. Santa Fe Avenue (just south of 7th Street) 213.624.0210 pettycashtaqueria.com