Che Fico takes its pizzas to Menlo Park and Northern Spanish cuisine comes to L.A.
Words by S. IRENE VIRBILA and DAVID NASH
PHOTO: Eric Wolfinger.
Make Mine a Menlo Margherita
When it opened in San Francisco in 2018, Che Fico quickly earned spots on the Best New Restaurants in America lists for Bon Appetit and Esquire. Six years later the accolades haven’t stopped: This spring chef and co-owner David Nayfeld was recognized as a 2023 James Beard Award semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category. Now the Michelin Guide–listed hotspot, which focuses on Italian cuisine with a California influence, has opened Che Fico Parco Menlo in Menlo Park. With a fresh look in mind, Nayfeld called upon interior designer Jon de la Cruz, whose eponymous firm shifted away from the original taverna’s industrial chic vibe to create more of a contemporary social club for its Peninsula clientele. Elements in the main dining room include plush red leather booths, expressive terrazzo floors, wood-paneled walls, Murano glass chandeliers, and a 270-degree rattan wrapped bar. Accentuated by an expansive indoor-outdoor dining area, it’s sure to become a local favorite for all seasons. 1302 El Camino Real, Ste. A, Menlo Park, 650-384-6514; cheficoparcomenlo.com. D.N.
YESS serves Japanese cuisine with hyperlocal ingredients.
Say Yes to Yess
Before it was a restaurant, YESS was a beloved L.A. Arts District food truck that served up freshly caught seafood — until chef Junya Yamasaki moved into an unused 1920s bank building. Yess is a Japanese restaurant, but an unusual one. The concept is simple: living and cooking with the seasons as they are here in California. Yamasaki collaborates with independent local fisheries to present what’s truly local and sources seasonal ingredients from farmers. The subtle savory fruit salad in a light dashi will be different from week to week. The jewel-like vegetables that top his monk’s rice bowl will vary. A sashimi course is part of each night’s tasting menu as well as a choice of main courses. Tasting menu ($110) only, except for Sunday’s a la carte menu and a few seats for walk-ins at the bar. 2001 E. 7th St., L.A.; Resy. S.I.V.
Order an array of small plates at XUNTOS. PHOTO: Stan Lee.
Half Shell Heroes
After spending time in northern Spain, you’ll be craving scallops, razor clams, and mussels harvested off the Galician coast; salt-cured anchovies from the Cantabrian sea; and inventive pintxos (tapas) from the Spanish Basque Country. The remedy? Santa Monica’s Xuntos, from chef-owner Sandra Cordero. Half Dutch, half Spanish, Cordero spent her childhood summers in Galicia exploring A Coruña’s beaches and stupendous bounty of seafood. “I fell in love with the way people eat there,” she says. The name Xuntos, which means “together” in Galician, is apt. Crowd up to the long bar for prized jamón ibérico sliced by hand, scallops in the shell with saffron butter, crisp-fried fresh anchovies, meaty razor clams, and the famous Padrón peppers. To drink, there’s Estrella Galicia beer, sherries and vermouth by the glass, and Spanish wines from wine director Scott Baker’s well-curated list. 516 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 424-744-8727; barxuntos.com. S.I.V.
Feature image: CHE FICO’s décor includes plush red leather booths. PHOTO: Eric Wolfinger.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2023/2024 issue of C Magazine.
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