Ray Garcia wants to combine old-school soul and new-wave ingredients at Broken Spanish

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Former Fig chef Ray Garcia lands at John Rivera Sedlar's old Rivera space

Ray Garcia says his new Broken Spanish restaurant in downtown Los Angeles will offer a combination of his past and his present, of his grandmother and all the farmers and chefs he’s worked with.

“I grew up eating all these amazing flavorful dishes,” says the highly acclaimed chef. “Some of them, I don’t even know if they had a name, they were just something grandma put in front of you and you either ate it or you lost your head that night. I want to take those same stews and braises but cook them with what is honestly a better product.

“I’m going to be cooking those classic recipes that live in my memories, but I’ll be introducing ingredients from Cook’s Ranch or the farmers market or our garden program.”

Broken Spanish will open sometime this spring in the space across from Staples Center that until recently had housed John Rivera Sedlar’s Rivera restaurant. It will be a partnership with Garcia, his longtime general manager Jacob Shure and Bill Chait’s Sprout restaurant group, which had partnered in Rivera as well.

When Garcia was at Fig, located in the Fairmont Miramar hotel in Santa Monica, he was best known for his innovative farm-to-fork cooking. He left the restaurant in October. Garcia is also the two-time winner of the pork-centric Cochon 555 professional cooking contest. He has also been active in the community, working with students at a school garden and throwing a celebration meal for a high school continuation school class.

The main feature of Broken Spanish, he says, will be soul. “That’s been a big motivating factor in everything I’ve done,” he says. “At Fig, there was a different style of technique, but there was authenticity to it.

“That’s what we’re going for here. In Los Angeles, there are so many amazing places to enjoy Mexican food, but there’s always an element missing — service, a compelling beverage program, a certain amount of comfort you don’t get when you’re standing in line at even the most amazing taco truck.

“But we want to take that same soulful experience and bring it downtown. I’m just thrilled to be a part of this new conversation of what Mexican food can potentially be.”

He says he’s hoping for a late March opening.

“Originally my thought was opening something on the Westside, because that’s been home to me for so many years and Santa Monica has been so supportive of everything I’ve done,” he says. “But it just so happened that this was a much better opportunity for me and such an amazing space. Downtown is really booming and there are a lot of incredible operators. I’m just glad to be part of something exciting like this.”

Broken Spanish, 1050 S. Flower St., No. 102, Los Angeles.

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