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Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless to Close His Melrose Restaurant Red O

The upscale Mexican spot had a long run

Red O
Red O Melrose
Courtesy Red O
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.

Melrose Mexican food staple Red O is walking away from its space, nearly eight years after first making a splash along one of Los Angeles’s busiest dining corridors. The restaurant was the first LA foray for noted chef Rick Bayless, and a jumping off point for several other Red O locations across Southern California.

There was plenty of buzz when Red O first opened in 2010, owing to Bayless’s stature as a celebrity chef with a bustling, award-winning empire in Chicago. Bayless also created something of a local firestorm at the time when he indicated in an interview that he was bringing Red O to Los Angeles (which some call the “second-largest Mexican city” in the world) as a way to teach the diners here about the “true flavors of Mexico.” Writers like Bill Esparza and Gustavo Arellano had plenty to say in response.

In the years since, Red O settled in as a staple restaurant for Melrose, a reliable spot for cocktails before a night at The Improv, or for a straightforward Mexican dinner with friends. Sales had been flagging more recently though, and more than once the building and restaurant came up for sale. Now it seems the end is officially near.

Employees began casually informing diners of the upcoming closure last weekend, and Eater confirmed those whispers last night. There is no firm timetable for the closure yet though, which means Red O will continue to operate into next month as they seek to pull out of the space — ideally after selling off for a fair bit of money. As for other locations, Red O still operates in Santa Monica, La Jolla, and Newport Beach.