In your grandparents’ generation, “Continental” dining was a formal, white tablecloth affair. The menus celebrated Western European “haute cuisine,” defined by a precisely-curated mix of French and Northern Italian dishes. For our generation, Continental dining is more likely to describe the interesting ways the culinary styles of countries on different continents come together. And for those of us living in LA, we’ve got the world at our feet when it comes to stylish restaurants that make trying new things approachable and fun.
Bow & Truss
Brought to life courtesy of executive chef James Markham’s take on a Pan-Latin/small plate, Bow & Truss sports a menu that spans both continents in the Americas with a touch of Spain for good measure. The food menu, in turn, is enhanced by a unique list of domestic and Latin American wines, craft beers, and sophisticated-yet-fun cocktails designed by cocktail innovators Marcos Tellos and Aidan Demarest of Liquid Assets. Eye-catching, innovative items include Albondigas de Ternero (veal & quinoa meatballs), Maiz a la Parrilla (charred corn, cotija, brava butter, cilantro), Vieira (pan seared scallop with crispy speck and white corn puree), El Matador Hamburguesa (ground brisket with oven dried tomato, pickled green chilies, chorizo pate, and Oaxaca cheese on a house-made challah bun) and Lubina (seared barramundi sea bass, roasted red potatoes, garlic wilted baby kale, lemon saffron crema). There is also an interesting selection of paellas and street tacos.
Bow & Truss, named for the architectural features that make up the ceiling, garners internationally appealing ambiance from its exposed brick interior dining room and a large patio completely walled from the street with crushed granite sand, umbrellas, and an exterior bar inspired by Spain’s Mediterranean shores.
11122 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
The District by Hannah An
Thanks to the An Family, through Crustacean and Tiato, we’ve become acquainted with modern Vietnamese cuisine, which marries Southeast Asian ingredients with refined French culinary technique. Restaurateur/Chef Hannah An now takes us deeper into Vietnam’s gastronomic soul through The District.
Under An’s direction, all the senses are engaged from the moment guests walk through a century-old manor home doorway into the “Hoi An” room, gently lit by period-appropriate Edison lights. Unlike other fine Vietnamese and Southeast Asian restaurants that simply rely upon the region’s finest decorative arts and appointments to set the mood, An creates a second “home” inspired by her family history and cultural ties to Vietnam. From there, she sets out to stage a convivial dinner party every night. There are no “customers”—only honored guests who are greeted, served, and tended to like they’re part of the family. Therefore, they’re encouraged to sit, enjoy, and learn about the dishes they are experiencing in an unhurried way. Staff members, meanwhile, are on hand to stir up conversations about Vietnamese food and culture, prompting guests to share their experiences with one another, whether seated at the communal table or in the Hoi An room space. According to An, the kitchen staff is driven by the sounds of conversations and laughter, which keeps this unique circle of life revolving.
This unusual setting beautifully frames such dishes as her signatures: Crab and Uni Noodle Crab (Uni handmade noodles, chive, Vietnamese herbs), Colossal Langoustine, with Hannah’s Handmade Noodles, District Wok Lobster, and Shaken Beef with red onion, garlic, tomato, Thai basil, and Chinese broccoli.
8722 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
This Venice hotspot is aptly named for a place known for its brunch and its beach-proximate location with a décor scheme seemingly inspired by Jamaica and the Caribbean islands. However, there is more to this spot than meets the eye, and it happens to be global. This self-styled “cookshop,” where unexpected things arise from a diverse mix of ingredients (including papaya, plantain, mango, ackee, spiny lobster, passionfruit, yellow rice, oxtail) is not intended to be straightforward island food. It springs from the mind of chef Roy Choi, who introduced LA and the world to Kogi BBQ’s Mexican-Korean fusion.
As Choi puts it, Sunny Spot is a place that is stretching to find a flavor that doesn’t exist yet. On a beachy Sunday, where it is advised you arrive early—just before bottomless mimosas begin to pour—you’ve got your pick of handover plates of fried rice and black beans, blueberry pancakes with sesame seeds, and jerk-spiced potatoes that are a welcome alternative to the usual home fries.
822 W. Washington Blvd.
Venice, CA 90292
When you enter Ushuaia Steakhouse in Santa Monica, it’s almost like enterting a different world. More precisely, you are entering a warm, intimate, and home-y space inspired by the remote but dignified town located on the shores of the Beagle Channel, at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego Island in Argentina.
This well-rounded taste of the other “Southland,” which skirts the Patagonian tip of Argentina and Chile, features Argentina’s famed steaks as well as its foodstuffs from the sea, mountains, and forests. The food and wine menus also weave in subtle Italian influences from populations that settled in Argentina generations ago as well as Spanish-influenced culinary flourishes. However, it scores the highest marks with traditional Argentine fare (beef and spinach & cheese-filled empanadas; Salmon or Skirt Steak a la Parrilla; “Churrasco” (Hangar Steak) al Malbec; and wood-fired Rib-Eye, Tenderloin, and New York steaks. While the meats and fish are fantastic on their own, a large selection of decadent sauces and condiments (compote of mushrooms, onions and Roquefort; garlic and tomato confit; inspired iterations of chimichurri) enable the diner to be as creative as the chef.
2628 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403