a Star Is Reborn

Some restaurants emerge fully formed, rough edges smoothed by architects and restaurant consultants, menus run through focus groups, wine lists put into place by sommeliers who may never have set foot into the ZIP code. Lot 1 is the other kind of new restaurant, a raw space seemingly willed into being, black walls and nine funky tables, heart-stoppingly beautiful tattooed waitresses, and a farmers-market-intensive roster of Asian/Latin dishes from insanely talented former Opus chef Josef Centeno, which seems as improvised as free jazz. I was happy to hear the entire first Black Sabbath album played as soft background music. Roast chicken with savory sautéed strawberries? A pea soup with apples and chorizo? Beef brasato on a 100-degree day? The “global tacos” Centeno calls “bacos”? Free popovers and chimichurri for all? Very well, then. This is cooking with a whim of iron. Restaurant owner Eileen Leslie murmurs about doubling the restaurant’s size, installing a tasting menu, beefing up the air conditioning and becoming licensed for beer and wine within a couple of weeks or months. (The main beverage option at the moment — BYOB is discouraged — is a fizzy-watermelon/fresh-strawberry cooler.) They’re making it up as they go along, which could be either annoying or incredibly cool, depending on where you stand on these things. I’m not sure if eating at the current Lot 1 is the equivalent of seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers 25 years ago at the Anticlub, but it might be. 1533 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park (213) 481-8400.

—Jonathan Gold

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Lot 1 Cafe

1533 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026


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