The DTLA Dinner Club is still going strong after eight years, bringing the downtown community together on Wednesdays for free pop-up dinners featuring some of L.A.’s best chefs. The only thing they ask is you bring your choice of liquor to share and a smile.
It’s the brainchild of native Angeleno Josh Gray-Emmer, whose BridGE DTLA provides community engagement services for developers and connects neighbors with one another. Anyone who lives in DTLA, is a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club or is a founder or CEO of an L.A.-based company is welcome to sign up to be invited.
Chefs Sam Udell, of Wholesam fame, and Muaz Mansour recently took over the rooftop of Gray-Emmer’s El Dorado Penthouse on Spring Street at sunset, with its sweeping views of downtown, to serve a healthy feast that included vegetable and meat stations, with passion fruit cake with downtowner Gelateria Uli’s agua fresca sorbet for dessert.
There were roasted mushrooms with baby squash and chermoula relish; herbed potatoes with shishito peppers; mung bean noodles with egg, scallions and carrot; and glazed Brussels sprouts with candied citrus and hazelnuts to fill in lettuce cups.
The steak with herb butter was given a last-minute blowtorch char, alongside the slow-roasted lamb neck and spiced chicken thighs. All was presented with Udell’s flavorful selection of sauces and garnishes, including smoked tahini, jalapeño salsa, tomato vinaigrette, garlic lemon aioli, radishes, celery and avocado.
The dinners, which are sponsored by Melissa’s Produce and the Mayfair Hotel, are designed to create a sense of family and community downtown. They are free to guests and take place almost every Wednesday through the end of January, and then will begin another season in March.
Couples should be prepared for intermingling — Emmer makes a point of assigned seating and separating pairs at the dinner table to encourage new conversations.
Originally built in 1913 and home to Charlie Chaplin for a time, the 12-story El Dorado Hotel has been converted into lofts and houses the underground El Dorado speakeasy as well as the elegant Le Petit Paris on the ground floor.
For more info on upcoming chefs, including Hatch chef Daniel Sheriff Shemtob, and how to join the invite list, go to dtladinnerclub.com.