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Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica

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One of East LA’s Best Underground Tacos Comes to a Bright Santa Monica Cocktail Bar

Lanea opens in the former Copa d’Oro space with Barba Kush serving lamb barbacoa tacos

When Santa Monica cocktail bar Copa d’Oro shut its doors this past February, nostalgic cocktail enthusiasts teared up a bit. But perhaps the place was ready to end its tenure. After all, its much-lauded longtime beverage director Vincenzo Marianella left the cocktail bar five months prior. Copa d’Oro’s partners will open a new place called Lanea beginning tonight at 5 p.m.

This complete makeover is more in line with the neighborhood’s beachy casual vibes than its predecessor. It now boasts barbacoa tacos by East LA’s Barba Kush, craft cocktails from Bethany Ham (formerly of Clifton’s and Birds & Bees), and a substantial list of 76 tequilas and 74 mezcals. Lanea is considerably airier, with the dark walls of the previous enclosed cocktail den swapped for white paint and smooth wood accents.

Barba Kush’s food will certainly be an big draw, especially to Westsiders who hesitate to venture east of the 405, let alone to dine at its restaurant in Boyle Heights. After all, taco expert and L.A. Mexicano author Bill Esparza calls it “some of the best regional Mexican cuisine in LA, and perhaps the rarest style of barbacoa in town.”

Barba Kush owner Petra Zavaleta, who hails from Puebla, Mexico, sources her lamb locally from Chino Hills and prepares her barbacoa in an earthen pit, cooking it slowly over a fire. In addition to the barbacoa tacos, the Zavaleta family will serve up cecina (thinly sliced and pounded beef), asada, pollo and vegetarian tacos wrapped in their handmade corn tortillas as well as quesadillas and chips and guacamole here in Santa Monica. On the weekends, look for all-day breakfast tacos as well as a DJ and mariachi band.

Vegetarian tacos with squash flower and mushroom spinach at Lanea
Vegetarian tacos with squash flower and mushroom spinach at Lanea

The brighter bar, designed by Untitled Designs (Public School restaurants, The Milky Way), now beckons to locals and tourists through a big open window up front. The mix of a large communal tufted settee up front and inverted booth seats in the bar area feels a lot more inviting. Beverage director Bethany Ham has put together the cocktail list reflecting today’s drinking trends of sustainability and wellness in addition to using farmer’s market fresh produce. Ham tries to use every edible part of produce for cocktail ingredients. The mint stem cordial in her Blue Marlin Swiz rum cocktail is made from the parts of the mint that aren’t good for garnishes.

While fans of the wellness movement will appreciate its presence on the cocktail menu, Lanea isn’t marketing its drinks as healthy cocktails. “We love turmeric for flavor, we also love it for color, and the fact that it reduces inflammation,” Ham explains. “These aren’t healthy cocktails per se but they are cocktails that feature health and wellness ingredients.” She makes the Jungle Bird Scooter cocktail with a turmeric power blend while the Antioxi-daq cocktail has salted superfruit.

Lanea is open 5 p.m. to late from Monday to Friday, and starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday (until late as well).

Lanea. 217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Lanea, Santa Monica
Batanga: tequila or mezcal with Mexi Coke and a salted rim stirred with a steak knife at Lanea
Batanga: tequila or mezcal with Mexi Coke and a salted rim stirred with a steak knife
Antioxi-daq: white rum, peach, salted super fruit, cinnamon, lemon at Lanea
Antioxi-daq: white rum, peach, salted superfruit, cinnamon, lemon
Blue Marlin Swizz: rhum, coconut, mint stem cordial, mint, citrus, blue bitters  at Lanea
Blue Marlin Swizz: rhum, coconut, mint stem cordial, mint, citrus, blue bitters
Jungle Bird Scooter: mezcal, ginger, Campari, lemon, turmeric power blend at Lanea
Jungle Bird Scooter: mezcal, ginger, Campari, lemon, turmeric power blend
Lamb barbacoa tacos at Lanea
Lamb barbacoa tacos at Lanea
Squash blossom quesadilla  at Lanea
Squash blossom quesadilla at Lanea
Consomé: bone broth with chipotle chcikpeas, onion, and cilantro at Lanea
Consomé: bone broth with chipotle chickpeas, onion, and cilantro
The food spread at Lanea
The food spread at Lanea
Tequilas and mezcals at Lanea
Tequilas and mezcals at Lanea
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