Eastside LA’s foodie scene has heated to a boil, drawing Industry types to its new dining rooms and bars.
Tintorera’s tuna tartare with a jalapeño emulsion, radish, chili oil and avocado.
Foodies, true foodies, are willing to travel for great eats. And those in the film industry in Los Angeles, even the ones who in the past may have swarmed around Beverly Hills and Brentwood, have recognized that it’s now impossible to have an intelligent conversation about the current culinary scene without going east. Downtown’s reinvention as a creative cuisine capital certainly isn’t new, but it’s getting stronger with each opening, like Karen and Quinn Hatfield’s debut of The Mighty and the arrival of Breva and Veranda at the reimagined Hotel Figueroa, helmed by Casey Lane of The Tasting Kitchen (serving diners like Reese Witherspoon and Helen Hunt). Even New Yorker/celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku fame is making his big debut in LA with an expansive destination in industrial Chinatown—rumored to involve a special smoker for meats—with the working title North Spring.
This hotbed of creative culinary activity is a community that James Beard Award-winning chef Jessica Largey (formerly Manresa)—with film director Joe Russo as her primary partner—wanted to join, so she chose a 100-plus-year-old Art Deco location in the Arts District, a former photography studio— “continuing the focus of the space in an artful endeavor,” she says—for her elegant just-opened restaurant Simone (447 S. Hewitt St., simoneartsdistrict.com)
The Mrs. Roper from Broken Shaker.
At her much-anticipated first eatery, Largey is making food she calls “both comforting and challenging, created around ethically sourced ingredients”— think abalone toast, which offers the unusual, sustainable California ingredient in an approachable way, with avocado, charred yuzu and pickled cucumbers. The interactive six-seat tasting-menu counter will undoubtedly attract those who love elite experiences. Meanwhile, the bar program, named Duello, conceived by renowned bar director Iain McPherson, honors the Arts District’s history, says Largey. “I think there is definitely a draw to come east for exciting food and new experiences. The dining scene in Los Angeles is one of the most exciting in the country right now.”
Award-winning chef Jessica Largey of Simone.
Chef Maycoll Calderon of Tintorera (2815 Sunset Blvd., 323.741.0055, tintorera.la) in Silver Lake—known for his acclaimed Huset in Mexico City— has served a celebrity almost every night since opening in late summer, which speaks to the buzz that his ultrafresh seafood-centric menu is creating. He won’t name names, though, which speaks to the unpretentious atmosphere he’s stoking. “Tintorera has the perfect combination of amazing food, delicious cocktails and a beautiful patio,” he says. “We want people to sit outside and drink and relax all night, to feel like they’re on vacation.” As for the cuisine, “the flavors are bright, acidic and salty,” says the chef, who is bringing locally grown fall produce like persimmons, pears and pumpkins to the menu—already stacked with plays on favorites like ceviche with hummus: “In LA, people love hummus, so I make it using Mexican ingredients, and when you combine it with the Mexican ceviche, it takes it to another level.”
From top: Journeymen’s grilled broccolini with grapefruit, crème fraîche and toasted walnuts and the hanger steak with blue cheese, cipollini onions, marjoram and a 30-year sherry vinegar.
In August, two Gjusta and Gjelina alums (beloved by the likes of Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham), chef David Wilcox and GM Guy Tabibian, opened Journeymen (3219 Glendale Blvd., 323.284.8879, journeymenla.com)—serving seasonal food reminiscent of the pintxo bars of San Sebastian, Spain—in Atwater Village. They say they love the Eastside because each borough is a tight-knit community of family and independently owned restaurants, music venues and art spaces. Thanks to Wilcox’s relationships with farmers, he gets the best produce and complements every dish—from eggplant relish to albondigas—with his mouthwatering freshly baked bread. But they’re not the only ones inspired by the previously sleepy, friendly area: Good Measure (3224 Glendale Blvd., 323.426.9461, goodmeasurela.com), which recently opened on Glendale Boulevard, is owned by sommelier Matthew Kaner of Los Feliz’s favorite wine bar, Covell. Here he’s created a wine-centric restaurant with 35 vinos by the glass (changing weekly) and wine-country cuisine by chef Mike Garber (Grace, BLD).
The gleaming interior of Good Measure.
Drinks-wise, there are even more boozy reasons to head east: Silver Lake’s playful Vinovore wine shop, selling bottles from female winemakers around the world, and Broken Shaker at the new Freehand hotel. The latter’s West Coast premiere is a departure for the award-winning Miami and Chicago bar, with vintage furniture by the pool on the hotel’s verdant rooftop and a menu of street-food snacks and titillating cocktails mixed with house-made elixirs and local herbs. It’s a scene worthy of Hollywood, but much more genuine. After all, says Calderon, “I think people who are venturing east want simple, high-quality food… but food that’s locally grown.”