Cerveteca’s spicing up the DTLA art district
Nestled in the Downtown LA Arts District is this gem of a restaurant. I was asked to visit Cerveteca this past friday and I am so glad I did. I have to admit as we were driving to this location we were at times a bit unsure that we were in fact going in the correct direction. What may at first seem a vast wasteland of abandoned warehouses is actually a thriving hub of activity and a must watch neighborhood. I worked in downtown for a little over 5 years and it looks like I left right when the lunch/dinner cuisine started picking up. Though the name sounds spanish, and Google labels it as “Laid-back hangout for Mexican comfort foods with global beers, wine & outdoor seating”, Cerveteca’s menu cannot be put into just one category. In true Los Angeles fashion Cerveteca is serving up an eclectic menu that should be deemed solely – Los Angelino cuisine. They have brought together the mix of the best dishes and flavor combinations of Mexican, Asain, American, Cuban and much more.
I should admit that I am completely Gluten Free and my dinner guest is allergic to all peppers. What a table to have to wait on right? However, both the General Manager – Chris Wulff and our server -Patrick, put our minds at ease right away. They assured us that we would still be able to have an incredible meal and they delivered on that promise. I was extremely appreciative that the menu was neatly labeled with GF or Vegan options. Their friendly smiles, helpful suggestions and welcoming attitudes made for a wonderful meal. As we enjoyed our food and conversation, we also were observing the ambiance, the neighborhood and the clientele, which were as eclectic as the food. While dinning in the loading dock turned laid-back dimly lit, comfortable yet hip and surely up and coming restaurant you can see all models and makes of cars from Toyota to a Corvette pulling up for valet parking.
We started with a dish off the “Raw Bar” section of the menu. In this section they offer a variety of fresh seafood offerings from a Peruvian Triadito to Oysters. Our choice, though it was hard to narrow down, was the Tuna Ceviche and mix of lime, coconut, jalapeño and cucumbers all very neatly diced up and served with crispy plantain chips. A cool, refreshing plate with just of kick of spice, but a flavor blend that is both unique and delicious.
I honestly wanted to try all of the options from the “starter” plates, but then we’d have been sickly full and I wouldn’t have anything to try when I go back, which I will be going back. My dinner guest went for the Chicano Cheese pots, scrumptious melty goodness does not do this appetizer justice. Fondue eat your heart out, these cheese blends would win every contest. If you made it at home (probably not as well) your dipping options would be endless, but Cerveteca served with tortilla chips.
As we continued to eat our way through the menu and the night we followed up our appetizers with two of their “Platos Grandes” and one of their signature tacos. We asked Patrick about his favorite dishes, the popular dishes and the specials. He was not only very knowledgeable about the menu he was also very patient with our indecisiveness. After much debate we finally decided on the dishes below:
Each meal was rich, mouthwatering and a perfect blend of spice and flavor. The Pescado melted in your mouth and the sweet and salty flavor blend was fresh and vibrant. The mole sauce on these enchiladas brought me back to the times when my grandmother would make chicken enchilada pie for us and took all day to make the most rich, robust slightly chocolate sauce. The jewel of Cerveteca, in my opinion, is the Tacos de Barbacoa. The server informed me that he considered it to be the signature house dish. One bite into it and I could taste why. I love Barbacoa and eat it when I can get it but, this was the most delicious Barbacoa I have had in a long time. I was so in love, I immediately instagramed and face booked it. I told him when he returned to collect my very empty plate that I could have had 3 or 4 of them. I highly recommend this taco!
Many people only think of Downtown LA as a destination for the garment or flower district, but the once bohemian playground is now a growing foodie destination. From what I am hearing there is much more to come in for Cerveteca and the Arts District 2015. cervetecaDTLA.com