It’s time once again for Los Angeles to earn a taste of the powerful food put out by Top Chef contestant Nyesha Arrington. The former Leona lead is up and running at her new Santa Monica shop Native, just steps from the all-important Wednesday farmers market — and the proximity shows.
Arrington was a fixture for the Venice scene for a while, running Leona as a decidedly Californian dinner destination that combined fresh produce and classic technique with riffs from Arrington’s own background. She ultimately left the beach-adjacent property to explore the country back in January, and only came onboard this new project inside the former Santa Monica Yacht Club because the timing with operating partner Luis Villaneda felt right.
As for what to expect, look for Arrington to continue some of the traditions she honed previously. There are short rib dumplings (an ode to her Korean grandmother), as well as classics like roast duck and weekend brunch fare like coconut brown butter pancakes. Vegetables like salt-baked leeks and sunchokes with piri piri play to the strengths of the Santa Monica Farmers Market, while grilled Spanish octopus remains a menu staple all over town. There’s also a full line of craft beer and wine overseen by GM Julian Kurland, and cocktails from Spring/The Cannibal bartender Adam Flamenbaum.
The Native space was designed by Breegan Jane, and holds some 95 seats across the bar, tables, and outdoor space. It’s a charming throwback to gaudier time spent dining out in Santa Monica, so look for plush seating, a curved wooden bar, loads of brass, and some requisite reclaimed wood. Native officially opens for dinner tomorrow, keeping evening hours from 5:30 p.m. on, Tuesday through Sunday. Brunch runs 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
620 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA