Damian, Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes’ long-awaited modern Mexican restaurant, opens next week
Big news out of the Arts District: Damian, the long-awaited restaurant from acclaimed Mexico City chefs Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes, will open its doors on Wednesday.
Originally slated to debut last fall, Damian is the latest addition to Olvera and Soto-Innes’ growing culinary empire, which includes the contemporary Mexican restaurants Pujol in Mexico City, Cosme and Atla in New York, and the recently-opened Elio in Las Vegas.
At Damian, dishes from the Californian-Mexican menu — inspired by the “the celebratory food and gatherings of Mexico” and “the quality and freshness of California products” according to a statement — include smoked Baja clams with salsa macha, huitlacoche and wild green tlayudas, albacore carnitas and esquites topped with queso fresco and toasted ants.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 160-seat space, located steps from Bestia on a side street off Santa Fe Avenue, will open for outdoor dinner service to start, offering seating for 40 guests on an expanded patio.
“We’ve been dreaming of this moment for a few years, we love this city, and couldn’t be happier to be here,” Olvera said.
The restaurant, named for a 3rd century Catholic saint, was designed by longtime Olvera collaborators Alonso de Garay and Micaela De Bernardi, who created an airy, industrial dining space outfitted with a polished concrete bar and earthy touches of vegetation, brick and wood.
Ditroit, a daytime taqueria adjacent to Damian, is expected to open later this year, though an exact timeline has yet to be confirmed. The casual sister concept will offer two or three tacos from a daily menu, with an emphasis on vegetarian options.
Although the kitchen imports heirloom corn from Mexico to nixtamalize for masa, the majority of the produce and proteins featured at Damian are sourced locally.
California sheephead, a fish native to the Eastern Pacific, appears in a taco dressed with creamy chipotle salsa, while a Santa Barbara uni tostada is paired with a snappy take on Caesar salad (invented in Tijuana, fittingly). A dish of birria de res is served quesadilla-style in a nod to L.A.’s booming quesabirria scene, popularized by vendors such as Teddy’s Red Tacos.
For dessert, there’s prickly pear raspados, rompope (egg punch) soft serve, hibiscus-pomegranate meringue and a banana leaf-wrapped flan with passion fruit.
The cocktail program will focus on agave spirits, including an expansive selection of mezcals sourced from small-production distillers across Mexico. Damian will also offer its own house wine label, produced by Valle de Guadalupe winery Vena Cava.
With Olvera and Soto-Innes splitting time between their other restaurants, former Cosme chef Jesús Cervantes will serve as head chef, joined by general manager Ana Odermatt and beverage director Jun Kwon.
Reservations, available through the booking platform Resy, are encouraged.
Damian, 2132 E. 7th Pl., Los Angeles, damiandtla.com
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