From moonlit meals in Hollywood to outdoor dining in DTLA
Words by ANDREW BARKER, ANUSH J. BENLIYAN and KELSEY McKINNON
The Casa Nueva cocktail at BROKEN SPANISH is crafted with tequila blanco, mango and sal de gusano chamoy, cucumber, jamaica, fresh grapefruit and lime.
NeueHouse members club in the heart of Hollywood, whose walls play host to creatives and companies by day, has a new purpose by night. It has given over its moonlit terrace, made-over with macrame wall hangings and lanterns, to Broken Spanish, a revival of the DTLA restaurant beloved by the late critic L.A Times food critic Jonathan Gold, which closed in August 2020 at the peak of the pandemic.
Its native Angeleno chef, Ray Garcia, is serving up some of his trademark dishes like the pork belly chicharron alongside beef short rib and Domingo beans, marinated black cod and squash tamales — sophisticated takes on the latin cuisine of his upbringing — which he rounds out with kumquat cheesecakes and passionfruit pavlovas made for sharing. The drinks list is similarly mouthwatering, with the Green Garden, made with Mijenta tequila, green juice and ginger a highlight. The Broken Spanish popup, which is open to the public, is accepting reservations through Resy. Until March 27th at 6121 Sunset Blvd., L.A.
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Pozole (a seasonal winter offering) from DITROIT.
Chef Enrique Olvera, of Mexico City’s internationally lauded Pujol restaurant, quietly debuted his highly anticipated upscale restaurant Damian in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District last fall. But in abiding with the county’s outdoor-dining ban, he and head chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes had to temporarily close their expansive patio after just one month, and put their menu of uni tostadas, albacore carnitas and corn tamales with chicatana ants (a Mexican delicacy) on hold before reopening this month. In the interim, though, Olvera debuted a casual offshoot in the alley behind the restaurant. The backdoor taqueria, dubbed Ditroit, melds Mexican street-food specialties with California’s seasonal bounty, serving up delectable fish flautas, tamales with mole negro and three types of tacos, all to go. Don’t miss the signature amaranth horchata, margaritas and fresh churros served with warm dipping chocolate. 2132 E. 7th Place, L.A.; 2117 Violet St., L.A.
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The Brûlée Char Siu — wood-fired pork toro marinated in house-made Chinese BBQ sauce — at CHIFA.
Humberto Leon, the visionary co-creator of fashion house Opening Ceremony, was just a babe in arms when his mother, Wendy Leon, opened the first iteration of Chifa in Lima, Peru. The family immigrated to Los Angeles and Leon became deeply ensconced in the world of high fashion, but “we talked about [opening another restaurant] for years,” he says. After an eight-year stint as co-creative director of the LVMH-owned label Kenzo and the sale of the Opening Ceremony label last year, the time was finally right. This past winter, midpandemic, Chifa 2.0 bowed in Eagle Rock with Leon’s brother-in-law, John Liu, as executive chef and Wendy in the kitchen churning out Peruvian and Chinese dishes that have been passed down for generations —such as the Si Yao Chicken, with aged soy sauce that has been developing in flavor for over two years. (Leon’s sister, Ricardina, acts as CEO/COO.) Leon channeled his creative energy into designing the whimsical 500-square-foot dining room with green velvet chairs, mint terrazzo floors inlaid with pink hearts and a wallpaper inspired by zebras and wood grain, which, along with a handful of other items — from sculptures and pitchers to T-shirts and hoodies — is available for sale. “I always think about culture first,” Leon says. “With Chifa, I look at it as something similar [to fashion], a place to invite conversations and to push the boundaries.” 4374 Eagle Rock Blvd., L.A., 323-561-3084.
Feature Image: HUMBERTO LEON’s CHIFA restaurant in Eagle Rock.
March 3, 2021
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