Los Angeles is a very different kind of city. It is in fact a tapestry of neighborhoods weaved together by major boulevards and freeways, each neighborhood having its own special identity. The most well-known are, of course, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and the West Side, Beverly Hills and Silver Lake. But there are dozens more that don’t have the notoriety that these have – no chic hotels and shops, no oceanfront boulevards, no hipster foody hangouts and no historic club scene. Just regular “hoods” where people live their day to day lives in the midst of this achingly complex and expansive city. My neighborhood is one of these anonymous areas – Mar Vista. Caught between the panache of the west side of Los Angeles and the rolling hills of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Mar Vista is a mostly a residential area, dotted with establishments that are starting to make their mark in the L.A. food scene, tossing this neighborhood into the forefront rather than the background of the city where it has sat for many years.
In the past few years, mainly due to the incentive of lower rents and its ideal position in the city, Mar Vista has seen some significant growth in the competitive L.A. food scene. Now, Venice Boulevard between Sawtelle and Centinela Boulevards is dotted with new eateries springing up like wild flowers, giving us, as residents, some appetizing options when it comes to discovering new places to dine without fighting the frenzied L.A. evening traffic.
The Mar Vista, a restaurant I just recently discovered despite the fact it has been open for almost three years is one of these, and it has become one of my favorites. It is difficult to describe the food they serve, if not only to say it touches me quite deeply – down to my hunter-gatherer ancestral bones.
What do I mean by that? Maybe it’s because I have been reading Yuval Noah Harari’s fascinating books on human kind’s evolution or maybe because the food is right up my culinary alley. The Mar Vista’s dishes, prepared expertly by Chef Jill Davis, somehow touch me as being profoundly linked to our origins and our nutritional DNA. Every plate includes grains and vegetables and perfectly, yet simply cooked proteins that when combined touch something deep inside me that is definitely primordial – caveman-like delicious.
Some of my favorite dishes come in the hot and bubbling bowls prepared by Chef Jill’s kitchen. The first dish I ever tasted was a simple Farro Bowl with romesco, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, arugula, fennel and crispy shallot. Topped off with a perfectly fried fresh egg, it is a divine dish which I have had again and again every time I go back. The Coconut Aji Amarillo is also served in a piping hot bowl, enhanced with curried couscous, Thai basil, Jalapeno and Tomatoes. Spicy, sweet, exotic, delicious. One more? The Piglet Sandwich. A combination of slow cooked pork with sweet chili sauce, chayote slaw, red onion, cilantro and pork broth. Every bite is a salivary celebration. There are many other favorites I love to go back to over and over again – The Creamy Mushroom Toast, perfectly grilled thick bread topped with unctuous mushrooms, and the simple yet somehow spot on Steak and Eggs with Chef Jill’s perfectly crisp torn potatoes.
The Mar Vista may not be for everyone, but it is definitely my kind of spot. Serving Brunch, lunch and dinner The Mar Vista serves a variety of intensely flavored dishes that will take you back…way back.
The Mar Vista
12249 Venice Boulevard
Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA