At Rivera, you can dial a phone number listed on the menu to hear chef John Sedlar describe some of the dishes. “Most people think of tamales as the embodiment of Mexican cuisine's earthiness,” he says in the recording, before launching into an explanation of “Clams Tamalli.” The dish is supposed to “join together earth and sea” with its corn masa and chopped clam meat. The tamale is steamed in large clam shells, then served with a French-style butter sauce flavored with green chiles. The other Rivera tamale — a thin rectangle of masa with braised pork short rib inside and mushrooms on top, served on a banana leaf — also could challenge the notion of earthy Mexican food. The masa is fluffy, moist and buttery, almost like a pancake. Rivera serves three different menus, one for each room. If you don't see the tamales on your menu, and you've become a tamale fan by now, do not panic! You can, and should, order them anyway. Visit Sedlar's other restaurant, Playa, for the tamale with filet mignon, wild mushrooms and chipotle béarnaise, or a Thai-inspired version with shrimp, lemongrass and chiles. These are not your abuela's tamales. 1050 S. Flower St., #102, dwntwn. (213) 749-1460,
—Daina Beth Solomon

LA Weekly