Playa, the shuttered Beverly Boulevard restaurant where chef John Sedlar riffed on modern Latin cuisine, is being replaced by Petty Cash Taqueria. Restaurateur Bill Chait has teamed with chef Walter Manzke, who is collaborating with Guillermo Campos Moreno of Tacos Kokopelli in Baja, known for its stylized tacos. Petty Cash is expected to open in the next few weeks.
Though the front windows are still papered over, the interior has been outfitted with picnic tables and benches and high tables with bar stools, one wall entirely covered by a mural of L.A. artist Retna's hieroglyphic alphabet (which translates into a message from Nelson Mandela and local philanthropist Aileen Getty). Another artist will paint the restaurant's facade.
"It's street food meets street art," says Chait, who adds that Retna will paint a wall of the rooftop garden, still tended by Sedlar and whose vegetables are being incorporated by Manzke into a menu of what he calls "party food."
On the menu at Petty Cash are tacos such as "The Kraken," a Kokopelli signature with grilled octopus, charred chile de arbol and peanuts; Cook's Ranch pork carnitas; charcoal-roasted portobello mushroom with asparagus, Jack cheese and pipian; carne asade; and Baja fish tacos with beer-battered wild striped bass. (Off the menu is a taco of cotija cheese, crickets and the herb hoja santa.)
Ceviches include a pork ceviche (yes, raw pork) made with the loin of the Cook's Ranch pigs that are being used for the carnitas. "They are excellent pigs," Manzke says.
For the mix-and-match seafood cocktail aguachile en molcajete, options includes sea urchin, Santa Barbara spot prawns, octopus, Gulf prawns, Kumamoto oysters, littleneck clams and kanpachi.
And Manzke's pig ear nachos make their appearance: crispy-fried strips of pig ears, chips, crema poblana and 63-degree egg.
Julian Cox is responsible for the cocktails, such as the Banana Hammock with rum, banana infusion, lime, tamaraind and cassia, and Bill Esparza of StreetGourmetLA has helped curate the list of tequilas, mezcals and sotols, including a 14-gallon bottle of sotol made with La Valentina agave from Durango that sits atop the bar. He might even pull something special out, such as a hand-painted bottle of mezcal purchased at a flea market in Mexico City.
7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, www.pettycashtaqueria.com.