Teresa Montaño’s sweet new neighborhood Spanish restaurant Otoño will be ready to open in bustling Highland Park on August 7. The former Racion chef has skipped over to this slim, brick-covered dining room that opens up with a welcoming bar area, serving tapas, raciones, and paella with California produce and sustainable meats. Ana Henton designed the warm space, with sleek angles, nicely appointed lights, and some Old World accents. A colorful street art mural comes from PichiAvo, a nod to Montaño’s time in Valencia’s Barrio del Carmen.
Montaño’s menu covers a lot of the well-loved Spanish classics like pan con tomate, gambas a la planca, jamon iberico de bellota (sliced by hand, of course), and conservas. They’re all meant to enjoy with drinks like the loaded gin tonic with botanicals, lavender tonic, and Spanish gin. Bar director Josh Suchan compiles the cocktails, along with Spanish beers and spirits, while wine director Katie Putterlik focuses on natural wines produced in Spain.
Otoño’s ambition requires a bit of context to understand. LA hasn’t had a notable new Spanish restaurant since Moruno and Smoke.Oil.Salt., both of which closed after short periods despite accolades. Angelenos should have an inborn affinity toward the cuisine, considering Alta California was once a Spanish colony. More recent entrants like The Bazaar, BCN, Gasolina, and Gabi James do their job of bringing tapas and casual bites, but perhaps no new restaurant in LA aspires to start a conversation about modern Spanish cuisine better than Montaño’s new Highland Park spot.
The chef takes grilled local black cod and places it in a jamon iberco tonkotsu broth, while she’ll be sure to please vegan locals with a farmer’s market paella. Braised octopus comes with a summer bean botifarra and a lacing of chimmichurri. A heftier main might be a 10 ounce Mindful Meats organic dairy beef strip with charcoal potatoes and black garlic. For dessert, a delightful-looking beet morcilla with almond horchata, strawberry gel, and beet meringue.