“We have some surprises!”
That was the tease at the media preview for the new Whole Foods in DTLA. I was certain it’d be a create-your-own-kombucha-culture bar or something along those lines, but when they led us to the hot food section, the big reveal was none other than chef Roy Choi. Standing behind a glassed-in counter filled with pink sambal sour cream and other colorful fixings for Ooey Gooey Fries and Beefy T Bowls, he announced that a satellite Chego would be a permanent fixture at the grocer’s new South Grand Avenue location.
“If you’ve ever had Kogi or Chego, then you know how big a deal this is,” said Choi, who added that Kogi got its start parked down the street in front of Golden Gopher. “I don’t know, man. I’m really proud of this concept. It’s a little bit different from the Chinatown location—we’re doing an over-the-counter concept. We’re also doing everything organic and within Whole Foods standards. To me that’s a big deal and a big step forward for Chego.”
Along with Chego, the new store, which is scheduled to open Wednesday, will have plenty of grab-and-go options for the Downtown lunch set as well as local residents who want to eat at home minus the pressure of actually cooking. There’s a poke bar in the seafood section, where customers can customize their mixes (the fish monger does the actual mixing), a huge wood-fired pizza selection, and the usual self-serve salad and hot food bars. The juice bar will serve acai bowls for breakfast goers. Vegan and gluten-free options abound.
Onsite restaurant The Eight Bar will serve craft beer, wine, and cocktails with L.A.-centric names, plus a menu of comfort dishes, including fish and chips, chicken wings (made with Mary’s Chicken, natch), burgers, charcuterie, and even bowls of chicharones. Vegan options are plentiful here, too, so you can expect meatless fare like cauliflower “nachos” (not actually nachos, but admittedly tasty) and bowls filled with healthy things like collard greens salads. A boozy gelato from Nancy Silverton is on the dessert menu.
Hyper-local products are also a focus, according to our tour guide. Employees were excited about the prominently displayed Cabo Chips, which are made in East L.A., and the selection of Southern California-made beers from Angel City and other local labels. Portland-based Stumptown (now owned by San Francisco-based Peets) made an exclusive DTLA blend for the new store and will run a coffee kiosk right near the entrance.
Whole Foods Downtown, 788 South Grand Avenue on the corner of 8th St. and Grand. Hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.