Red O

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Chicagoan Rick Bayless doesn’t just cook Mexican food, he glorifies it. This is the Top Chef Master’s first effort outside the Windy City, and while he isn’t in the kitchen, his presence is felt in the smack of fresh roasted chiles, the woodland mushroom ceviche, the sopes topped with cubes of pork belly (above), and the tortilla-fed suckling pig. Moles are Bayless’s specialty, and here you’ll find a deep mole poblano and a spicier yellow Oaxacan version. We love what they’ve done with the former Chocolat space—clipboard-gripping bouncer aside. The front patio has a retractable roof, and the dining room is decked out like an island getaway. » 8155 Melrose Ave., L.A.(323-655-5009 or redorestaurant.com). D nightly. Full bar. Mexican   $$$

Photograph by Andrew McCaughan