As a host guides you to your table at Casa Madera, the new restaurant inside the Mondrian hotel on the Sunset Strip, she weaves through a dense crowd and a bevy of musicians dressed in white. “The healer is in tonight,” she says, motioning toward a woman dressed in a white tunic and swinging an incense censer necklace as if to hypnotize each guest. Throughout the meal, servers glide by with trays of cocktails, many of which are lit on fire tableside or poured with a misty fog of liquid nitrogen. The healer along with the guitar, violin, and drum players circulate through the space.
The dining room is actually a patio with a giant retractable roof and offers the beachy Mexican vibe that its owners, Noble 33 cofounders Tosh Berman and Mikey Tanha, had in mind. The famous restaurateurs have a slew of restaurants around the country, most notably Toca Madera, their Mexican steakhouses in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Casa Madera is kind of the yin to Toca Madera’s yang,” says Berman, who grew up on organic farms and lived in Mexico for nine years. “It’s the Riviera Maya version. It’s also more seafood-heavy, and it’s rooted in the idea of being coastal.”
The menu, conceptualized by Berman and executed by corporate executive chef A.J. McCloud, is described as “Mexican cuisine with Mediterranean influence.” It features an array of starters like whipped aubergine with pita slices and braised Wagyu meatballs; an extensive raw bar with standouts like the hamachi serrano marinated in fresh lime with cucumber and pickled onions; and duck carnitas tacos followed by unexpected mains like the Wagyu “top cap”—an extremely tender top cut of of the rib-eye steak that pairs well with the confit truffle potatoes.
The food is bright and, for the most part, pleasing. But with the live music, circus-like cocktail presentation and overall immersive dining experience Berman and Tanha have painstakingly created, a meal here is clearly about so much more than what’s on your plate. 8440 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, thecasamadera.com
New & Notable…..
Angler. The San Francisco original is reopening its L.A. location with a completely transformed space. Now under the helm of chef Paul Chung, the menu stays true to Angler’s hearth-fired cooking but with touches of Chung’s Korean heritage like seaweed rice with cured yolk, trout roe, and caviar. 8500 Beverly Blvd., Suite 117, anglerla.com
Café Basque. Daniel Rose of New York’s Le Coucou brings his award-winning cooking to downtown’s Hoxton hotel. Here, flavors of the southwest coast of France are the star. Try traditional Txangurro (spider crab) gratin with tomato and Armagnac or rockfish stew with mussels, shrimp, and saffron. 1060 S. Broadway, cafebasque.com
Monarch. Designer Humberto Leon, who opened Chifa in 2020, and his family are serving Hong Kong-inspired dishes like fried rice with jumbo shrimp and fish roe; braised curry lamb shanks; and Wagyu filet mignon tartare in a chic bar and dining room. 1212 S Baldwin Ave., monarch-sgv.com
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.