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Manuela, Arts District
Manuela, Arts District

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Get Charmed at Manuela, Arts District's Newest Restaurant

Smoked meats, fermented vegetables, and timeless art

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Manuela, Los Angeles' newest top-tier restaurant arrival, is a place of juxtaposition. The effortlessly casual space is studded with high-end artwork that rotates often, while the pricey digs give way to smoked meats and plenty of down home flair. Take a walk inside.

Los Angeles’s next big restaurant debut is here, as Manuela hits the Arts District this Saturday for brunch. Chef Wes Whitsell (Osteria La Buca, Soho House New York) has partnered up with the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel team to bring a large swath of their Downtown art gallery to life — including chickens in the yard.

The homey decor of the place is right in line with Whitsell’s heritage, having lived for much of his life in rural North Texas. Rustic marble and brass touches run up against scores of old wood and big glass panes, crafting a dining scene that feels lived-in but timeless. A half-dozen counter seats look into the massive open kitchen beyond, complete with wood-fired grill, while the indoor-outdoor seating areas blend brick and wood with the open air. This is modern Los Angeles dining, where casual matters.

This is modern Los Angeles dining, where casual matters.

Matt Winter of M Winter Design heralded in the 5,000 square foot space, which holds 140 diners at a time and extends into the gallery’s courtyard beyond. There are barstools and two-tops, banquettes and private dining, all collected around the kitchen for an immersive experience from anywhere in the restaurant.

The materials were largely sourced from the 1930's era building itself, while much of the rest was pulled from warehouses in the Arts District and given new life. "We tried to use reclaimed materials, but refine them," says Winter, "We resurfaced and recut everything to bring out the best in the materials themselves, and show this juxtaposition between the polished space and these old world elements."

The heavily-anticipated Manuela will start with brunch this coming Saturday, working a Whitsell-designed menu that includes lots of smoking and fermenting. The on-site garden (and, yes, chicken coop) will provide some of the necessary ingredients, with the rest of the seasonal package coming from the farmers market and chef’s own pickling jars.

Lunch will begin October 5, keeping weekday only hours from Wednesday through Sunday thereafter. And on October 19, dinner will officially kick off with a menu that offers much in the way of meat and seafood. This isn’t purely Southern cooking though, as Whitsell will provide everything from raw seafood elements to smoked country hams served with grilled peaches and ricotta. Fried quail at lunch puts a spin on the usual yardbird, while a venison burger does the same.

Manuela opens this Saturday for brunch, with lunch and dinner to follow. Opening hours for lunch next week will run 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with eventual dinner and breakfast service offered seven days a week as well.

907 E. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA

Joshua Targownik
Manuela Joshua Targownik
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