James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina is bouncing back after a two-year hiatus with his most stunning concept yet, a beachside outpost of his Vegas restaurant  Orla in the Regent Santa Monica Hotel, set to open end of summer — and it’s his most personal venture yet.

“Orla is an incredibly personal concept for me, taking inspiration from my childhood,” Mina tells L.A. Weekly during a property tour between grilling herb-marinated lamb chops with black harissa. “I was born in Egypt and grew up in a very Middle Eastern household. My father was from Alexandria and my mother was from Cairo. I thought most of the food I grew up eating my whole life was intermingled in the Middle East. But as I started becoming a chef and now that I just finished my second book, My Egypt, I realized the food I grew up thinking was Egyptian was actually Greek. The Greek influence comes from Alexander the Great, and a lot of what my father loved. The Greeks had so much influence on the food in Egypt, that there came a lot of crossover.

Michael Mina

Orla lamb chops (Michele Stueven)

That crossover of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine from the Mina family table will be reflected in the Orla menu, like hamachi crudo with a citrusy coastal chili crunch and fruit, as well as delicate shreds of kataifi-wrapped prawns with sweet and sour mango, and coconut mousse topped with a fried kaffir lime leaf.

“Mango in Egypt is like pineapple in Hawaii,” says Mina, who lived in Santa Monica when he started his noted culinary career at the Hotel Bel-Air. “When it’s mango season there,  with no less than 18 different types of mango, it’s a huge celebration. We source our mangoes from Egypt.”

The base of the stunning Orla dining room features a playful and intricate mosaic of an octopus that was created in Italy and brought to the elegant hotel that combines the glamour of Beverly Hills with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.  

The mosaic was handmade in Italy by 16 master mosaicists simultaneously.  About 300,000 tiny tesserae tiles were cut and shaped by hand by Sicis Master Mosaicists, true to Byzantine times, at the Sicis factory in Ravenna, Italy. The mural was shipped in low-profile flat crates and is cut into a jigsaw puzzle so that it retains the natural curvature. The entire mural is laid onto a stick surface, and they pull the paper back as they lay the stones. Following, they layer a paper over it that serves as the “map” that identifies the locations. The significant piece of art captures the essence of Orla and resonates with the atmosphere that defines the entire property.

Michael Mina

Orla dining room rendering  (Courtesy Regent Santa Monica)

The hotel has 167 guest rooms including 34 suites. The guest rooms start at a generous 720 square feet with bathrooms that feature soaking bathtubs, rainfall showers, and double vanities, in soothing light blue and seafoam color palettes. The resort will offer a 2,180-square-foot, two-story Atrium Suite located on the second and third floors with ocean views. The eighth floor will hold the largest room, The Santa Monica Presidential Suite, which will be equipped with a game room, separate living room area, and four Juliet balconies.

Alongside Mina, the resort is partnering with celebrity chef Ayesha Curry and her lifestyle brand, Sweet July, with products produced by Black-owned and women-owned brands, as well as an all-new menu inspired by Curry’s Jamaica roots. There will be café staples like Sweet July’s signature coffee, tea, pastries, and desserts.

“Yes, some of the innovations and techniques that I’ve learned over the years were at higher-end restaurants,” says Mina during the sneak peek. “But when you bring the local product we have here in Los Angeles and apply it to Mediterranean cuisine, it brings me home. The food will be flavor-forward, that’s for sure.”

Michael Mina

Sweet July Marketplace rendering (Courtesy Regent Santa Monica)






































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