It wasn’t going to be long that a prime Venice dining space was going to remain unused, even during a pandemic. The former Sunny Spot opens as Nueva tomorrow afternoon transformed into a mostly outdoor, equally colorful place with chef Vartan Abgaryan and Mesraim Llanez doing easy-going modern Mexican fare. Restaurateurs Jared Meisler and Reiss Co.’s David and Patti Reiss have partnered with the two chefs to do an approachable cantina menu of hamachi and uni ceviche, octopus tacos, potato quesadillas, and wood-grilled branzino with mole rojo.
At full strength the expansive restaurant can seat 160 people, though with restrictions against indoor dining to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’ll be exclusively outdoor seating to start. A covered area connected to the interior space serves as the main outdoor area while a separate 50-seat street-facing section has even more spaced out tables. Design comes from Jared Meisler, who also operates The Friend in Silver Lake, with the triptych artwork and the restaurant’s graphics coming from Tria Meisler.
Much of Abgaryan (who also cooks at Yours Truly on Abbot Kinney) and Llanez’s menu sticks to familiar flavors, such as a shrimp and octopus seafood coctele, chicken tinga taco, a sweet corn elote, and a grilled ribeye with roasted vegetables. It’s not meant to be challenging or overly expensive either, with agave-infused cocktails and a nifty clarified paloma designed by Adam Fournier (NoMad) making for refreshing companions to the food. Brunch dishes include chilaquiles, chorizo scramble, and a cast iron pancake with mezcal maple syrup.
When Nueva opens on August 11, it’ll serve dinner seven days starting at 5 p.m. until midnight, with later Thursday to Saturday closure at 2 a.m., plus weekend brunch from 10:30 a.m. on (plus a bonus lunch service on Fridays, since this is Venice). Eventually, Nueva’s bar will have happy hour Monday to Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., another boon for beach bums and tech workers in need of an afternoon sipper. Dishes and beverages will be available for takeout and curbside pickup.