Status: Opened Nov. 17
The newest kid at The Original Farmers Market on Fairfax and Third falls to Little Spain, a market and cafe run by Alejandro Pages plus his team that speaks sexy Spanish-inflected English. Pages comes from a family of restaurateurs who still manage restaurants throughout the Iberian peninsula, each spot is committed to preserving the traditions of Spanish cuisine. So then why did Pages make the leap to Los Angeles, of all places? "I got married here, and of course stayed here with my wife," he muses. You might think he wooed the woman of his dreams with food, but it was actually a background in surfing that led him to LA. In fact, if you Google Alex Pages you'll find videos of a slightly younger Pages riding the waves. A family man now, these days he keeps busy behind the stoves. Instead of reinventing the rueda, Pages takes notes from his father who has always loved the range of flavors, tastes of the sea, and slight spice that comes from the kitchens throughout rural Spain.
Little Spain is an ode to classical Spanish cookery. "I went to all of the Spanish restaurants in Los Angeles," he tells patrons and press, "and I haven't found one place, not one place that makes traditional Spanish food." He almost dares diners to tell him where they can find more authentic Spanish cuisine. Unhelpfully, their mouths are usually full when Pages makes these claims, but the proof is in the Patatas Bravas. Little Spain doesn't do anything fancy here, this is the Spanish street food and tapas classic of fried potatoes topped with house-made (read: extremely garlicky) aioli and a red chili sauce. There's the Tortilla Espanola with potatoes and onions and nothing else, but in a slightly spongy, fresh-from-the-oven, egg base. Little Spain, barely open five days, has been going through 200 croquetas each afternoon. There's a whole selection of cured meats and Spanish cheeses that rival those of the nearby French-y Mr. Marcel. When asked what the most popular dish is at his new restaurant, Pages has only one word: Paella. The menu is already a fun jumble of the familiar and unfamiliar, but Little Spain continues to introduce new dishes, including desserts. The current favorite? Crema Catalana, a Spanish creme brulee with a hint of orange. It's like Seville surfed right into Third and Fairfax and set up shop. On that note, be sure not to miss the adjacent marketplace. It's stocked with all manners of Spanish cookies, crackers, spices, and sauces. Little Spain is open now from 9AM to 10PM daily, or as the Farmers Market hours allow.
Additional Reading: EaterWire, 10/26; Plywood Report, 12/29
Additional Photos: Eater LA Flickr Page
— Daniela Galarza