Nestled in the narrow space between Hollywood’s Los Balcones and a bodega relic, plant-based Peruvian newcomer Chavela has made large impression. A wood communal table busts thought the glass front, a line of wood carried through to the narrow bar where the namesake chavelas—a sangria-like drink—are mixed.
Brothers Jorge, Walter, and Eduardo Rodriguez’s (of Los Balcones) love of this beverage inspired them to open a bar dedicated to it. Realizing the heavy meats of a traditional Peruvian menu would overpower this delicate and complex concoction, vegan chef Rachel Carr (The Raw and the Cooked) came in and developed the equally complex and delicate plant-based menu.
Dinner stared with almost the entire starter menu. First out of the kitchen came the Barbacoa Portobello Tacos. Topped with cabbage curtido, lime cashew crema, pico de gallo, avocado and radishes, this generous starter that is almost a meal in and of itself!
The cocktails menu, continually crafted by bar manager Joshua Suchan, contains three house cocktails along with select beers and wine. The Chavela Traditional—torrontes, red wine, pisco huamani and chicha morada—is both cooling yet spiced. This perfect California evening drink is my favorite chavela at Chavela!
Chunky layers of heirloom tomatoes and cashew cheese line the dish of the Caprese. Topped with charred tomato-balsamic vinaigrette, toasted pistachios and basil, this delicate fresh cheese with height of the season tomatoes makes a lovely dish!
We also tried the Chavela Fresca—a sangria of peach, curaçao, lemon, mint, vanilla tea and Sauvignon Blanc. This one was a bit too sweet for me, but it was a table favorite.
The Nachos—house-made baked, organic, non-gmo chips topped with anasazi beans, pico de gallo, lime cashew crema, sunflower pecan chorizo, avocado and jalapeno—are a filling and easy-to-share starter.
But the Sunflower Chorizo Tequenos—a Peruvian “Egg”roll served with maracuya (passion fruit) dipping sauce and pickled red onions—is my favorite of the starters. Spicy and sweet, this heavier appetizer balances out the lightness of the overall menu.
It was the intrigue over the Mole Verde Enchilada that brought me to Chavela. One of Chef Carr’s signature dishes, this gluten-free vegan interpretation trails off of the expected assemblage of an enchilada. Here, the tortilla is replaced with a crinkly cabbage leaf—tender with a slight crisp—stuffed with mushrooms, hominy and sweet potatoes atop black beans and quinoa and finished with cashew nacho cheese. This isn’t going to trick you into thinking you’re eating a traditional enchilada, but as an enchilada-inspired stuffed cabbage, this dish is killing it!
1358 Vine St,.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
All food hosted.