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Innovative chefs take a fresh look at some classic L.A. eats

Innovative chefs take a fresh look at some classic L.A. eats
Torta Company's signature Cubana includes everything you'd want, like beans, chicken, ham, and spicy toppings, all on a fresh roll. (Courtesy FIGat7th)

The chefs behind FIGat7th's 19 restaurants and eateries are hard at work creating imaginative takes on traditional fare — from the humble hamburger to what's been called "the best torta ever." This is the place to challenge your taste buds without leaving your culinary comfort zone, with progressive menus that are redefining FIGat7th as a day-and-night dining destination.

City Tavern serves reimagined comfort food at brunch, lunch, dinner and "Hoppy Hour" amidst old-school distressed brick and reclaimed wood. The signature CT burger brings the very best out of the California cheeseburger, using dry-aged Angus beef and then layering cheese, Thousand Island dressing, pickles, onions, tomato and lettuce atop the generous, perfectly cooked patty. For a more adventurous take still steeped in SoCal roots, City Tavern's pastrami Swiss burger marries flavorful smoked pastrami and Swiss cheese with creamy coleslaw and whole grain mustard aioli. Wash down either with a choice of 28 craft beers on draft, a plentiful pour from City Tavern's boutique, California-specific wine program, or an expertly handcrafted cocktail.


In just over a decade, Lotería Grill has grown from an open-air stall at L.A.'s Farmers Market to a well-known collection of restaurants, serving authentic, regional Mexican cuisine in relaxed, contemporary surroundings. FIGat7th is Lotería's latest location and stays true to founder and executive chef Jimmy Shaw's vision, inspired by his Mexico City childhood, of complex, soulful dishes created without shortcuts. Menu highlights include Shaw's take on the ever-present L.A. street taco. Here, meats including carnitas or chicken tinga are prepared slowly, stewed and simmered until sumptuously tender and then ladled into handmade tortillas and topped with fresh ingredients.

Another Shaw creation, in partnership with his brother Andy, Torta Company lives up to its name with an eye-opening array of breakfast, lunch and dinner takes on those hearty Mexican sandwiches found all over the city. Start your day with a breakfast torta stuffed with Mexican-style eggs, chicken with green chilaquiles, eggs with chorizo, or eggs with ham and cheese. At lunch and dinner try La Cubana — breaded chicken breast, Black Forest ham, white cheddar, black beans, avocado, tomato, onion, chipotle mayonnaise and cilantro dressing. For pure city fun, the DTLA special hot dog torta is filled with beef hot dogs, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, black beans, avocado, grilled onion and bell peppers all topped with spicy chipotle sauce.


For a more far-flung FIGat7th flavor adventure, Indus by Saffron serves the innovative Indian recipes of renowned chef Bhupender Singh in a quick-casual setting. Singh's dishes are mild enough for first-timers and lighter than typical Indian fare, yet still exquisitely tasty.

Something of a downtown institution (with two other area locations), George's Greek Grill makes everything from scratch daily, imaginatively emphasizing healthy, organic and locally sourced ingredients, including vegetarian options such as spanachi, a falafel burger and a Mediterranean grilled cheese panini that blends feta and mozzarella.

Culinary control freaks will love The Pizza Studio, where guests can precisely customize their dream pie from a wide variety of crusts, sauces, cheeses, toppings and spices.

FIGat7th is located at 735 Figueroa St. South in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The location is adjacent to the 7th/Metro subway station and several Metro bus stops. Convenient parking includes a discounted $5 rate after 4 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends.


-Paul Rogers, Tribune Content Solutions