WHY To pretend you’re in Barcelona, or the East Village, or maybe Berkeley, if only for an evening.
WHAT On the edge of Little Tokyo, in a no-frills, noisy modern pub, chef Josef Centeno turns out food that will make you think you’re not in L.A. anymore. Every night brings a different main course served for two—perhaps leg of lamb with side dishes for just $29. Centeno’s food is what fusion cooking should be: vibrant, complementary flavors in exciting combinations. Don’t miss the batter-dipped fried anchovies drizzled with saffron honey, the buttermilk-fried chicken (eat your heart out, Paula Deen) and the hand-torn egg pasta with a sunnyside-up egg. This is no place for timid eaters—the menu is gleefully larded with lamb cheeks, veal tongue, pig’s ears and other esoterica. The eclectic wine list has tons of choices under $35, and the globe-trotting beer list omits anything bland.
WHO A throng of Downtown denizens who appear to lead far more interesting lives than you do.
Neighborhood: Little Tokyo/Arts District
Features: Dinner, Essentially L.A., Kid Friendly, Open Late, Patio Dining, Vegetarian
Price Range: $17-$24
Cuisine Type: Modern American, Pub