First announced last summer, Frogtown's upcoming corner restaurant Salazar has the neighborhood peeking over fences and constantly refreshing social media, looking for clues. The mostly outdoor Mexican barbecue restaurant has been hotly anticipated from the beginning, and now it looks as though April will bring an official unveiling of the dinner and drinks spot.
The address is a former auto body shop which, like much of Frogtown these days, has been converted and given new life. Co-owner Billy Silverman has done a largely top-to-bottom overhaul of the land, reformatting the old mechanic bays and taking the shop space down to the walls — though they've left the mismatched and worn industrial-chic interior.
There isn't much indoor space to speak of, just a poured cement bar and host stand that gives way to the small, glassed-in kitchen. The bar itself is colorful and vibrant, but the true star here is the outdoor seating space which, when finished, should hold more than 100 diners and imbibers in an array of two and four-tops, plus communal seating. There are also plans for a small, lounge-y area and some fire pits.
To help hide from the sun there's a massive pergola hanging over the landscape, but mostly this is an outdoor dining free-for-all, open to the stars and the sounds of the L.A. River nearby. You'll also be able to peek into the kitchen's Santa Maria-style grill from the outdoor glass that wraps the room, which is it's own kind of show when Mexicali Taco vet and co-owner Esdras Ochoa is doing the grilling.
The menu is still being tweaked and given a final glance, but expect a lot of Sonoran-style desert barbecue and, of course, plenty of tacos. That means smokiness and true wood-fired carne asada, plus a variety of other Mexican favorites from Ochoa's repertoire. There will be beer and wine (including bottles from Mexico), as well as cocktails from behind the bar.
Conservative estimates peg April 15 as the suggested opening date for Salazar in Frogtown. It will have been a long time coming, too; co-owner Silverman says he's been thinking of a place like this in Los Angeles for many years. The L.A. native is hoping to push forward the trend of eating and drinking outdoors in a lushly landscaped environment, something more akin to Austin's prodigious outdoor dining scene and less like Los Angeles's reliance on small, attached restaurant patios. It's not necessarily a unique idea, just one that's proven exceedingly hard to execute — just ask Loreley on La Brea.
Expect dinner service only once Salazar opens, possibly up until midnight on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. Brunch will roll out soon after, and there's talk of an eventual lunch addition as well, plus one-off outdoor events like movie screenings and other parties under the stars.
Los Angeles, CA