Let's get the bad news out of the way: a lot of L.A. restaurants are closing up this summer. From long-running institutions like 22-year-old Alegria on Sunset and West Hollywood's decades-old French Market Place to Hostaria del Piccolo and smoothie bar Pulse Cafe in Santa Monica and more. The saddest of these all, however, is Compañia de Cafe, which closed its South Gate location in February after less than three months in business and just this Monday announced on Facebook it was shuttering its original San Fernando one. We stopped by for a coffee on Sunday when we were out in San Fernando checking out the city's new brewery and nothing looked amiss. And we couldn't help thinking at the time how refreshing it was that this brightly colored Latin-American-inspired coffee shop was still thriving in downtown San Fernando, especially after we tried to get a cup at the shop in South Gate recently only to be confronted with a gutted storefront. Compañia's closure now solidifies the supremacy of Tierra Mia, the original third-wave Latino coffee shop, which has eight stores throughout east and southeast L.A.
Now, for some good news. Silver Lake might be losing Mexican comfort food with the shuttering of Alegria, but news quickly surfaced that the strip mall space would not be empty for long. L.A. restaurant power trio Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo quickly swooped up the space for an unknown concept restaurant, which Eater reports would be their third Sunset Boulevard strip mall takeover. Within spitting distance of Night + Market Song and not far from Silver Lake's other best restaurants, the new Lefebvre-Shook-Dotolo project is sure to fit in with the neighborhood's culinary upswing.
In other Ludo news, Eater national also released its 21 Best New Restaurants list this week and Petit Trois is the only L.A. spot to make the list. Critic Bill Addison raves (as do most people who eat there) about the pristine Boursin omelet and its range of traditional and "fantastical" dishes. There was a lot of other tough competition this year (including L.A. expat John Sedlar's new Santa Fe restaurant and lots of Southern grub), so congrats to Ludo and his team for making the cut!
Earlier this week, we broke the news that chef Perfecto Rocher was leaving Smoke.oil.salt and Ricardo Zarate was coming in as a consulting chef. Great to see Zarate's name attached to something solid after his unceremonious departure from his three L.A. restaurants last year, but knowing he would only be consulting on Spanish dishes still didn't satisfy our craving for the chef's classic and forward-thinking takes on Peruvian food. Once should take care of that. Not long after Zarate's Smoke.oil.salt gig was announced, the chef also released information about a new Peruvian pop-up he is launching August 6 at Santino's. Called Once (as in "eleven" in Spanish), the dinners sound like a place where Zarate can be himself again — lomo saltado, ceviche, tiraditos — and with no end in sight for the three-day-a-week pop-up, this could spell the return of L.A.'s much-missed Peruvian chef.
Clifton's Cafeteria is readying for its big second coming soon and announced this week that Jason Fullilove will be the opening executive chef and Damian Windsor will run the bar program. Fullilove was opening chef at Gorbals nearby and before that, he worked alongside Mark Peel at Campanile and led the special event teams for Patina Restaurant Group. Windsor comes from Australia originally, but has worked at numerous L.A. bars including Seven Grand, The Pikey, Good Luck Bar and The Roger Room, which he helped open. Lately, he's been helping Hollywood nightclubs up their cocktail game,
Tweets o' the Week:
If anyone was curious why I came back to the office covered in carnitas juice: This. pic.twitter.com/ad7Yiri8Dc— Josh Scherer (@CulinaryBroDown) July 23, 2015
There comes a point in every heat wave when the only option left to you is lying on the floor, moaning quietly.— Regan Hofmann (@Regan_Hofmann) July 20, 2015
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Sunday, July 26: CrabFest XI
Get your mallet and newspaper tabecloths ready because the Hungry Cat in Hollywood celebrates CrabFest XI with a menu honoring the treasured Chesapeake Bay blue crab with a raw bar of fresh crustaceans for all-day feasting. We never thought we'd say this, but if anyone's giving us crabs this summer it's David Lentz.
Sunday, July 26: Summer Harvest Dinner
Tender Greens in Hollywood hosts another thoughtful harvest dinner, this time using ingredients from the salad chain's new aeroponic planters, which hang around the back patio and use 90% less water than conventional farming techniques. Oh yeah, the chef's a beer geek, too, so expect good beer to be flowing freely throughout.
Monday, July 27: Cocktail Chef Matthew Biancaniello Pop-Up
Matt Biancaniello is not a mixologist, he's a "cocktail chef" and he creates garden-to-glass creations that will blow your mind. He'll be hanging out behind the bar all night at ultra swanky Spaghettini in Beverly Hills, making drinks from his forthcoming book Eat Your Drink.