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A close up of a hand with fried hemp leaf.
Hemp at Gusto Green.
Wonho Frank Lee

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New Downtown LA Restaurant Brings Hemp to the Culinary Forefront

The years-in-the-making Gusto Green leans into plants in all its forms with a big new 200-seat restaurant

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.

Downtown’s Gusto Green has been a growing project for years now. First announced in 2018, the collaborative, multi-story space from Gusto 54 and its founder Janet Zuccarini — successful Canadian operators known locally for running Felix in Venice — is meant to be more than just a restaurant. With tendrils into the health, wellness, and cannabis arenas, it also represents creative entrepreneurship. The Hill Street building is among the most ambitious projects to land in Downtown in years; here’s what to expect.

First up is Gusto Green, run by Gusto 54 with menu direction from chef Michael Magliano, previously of the French Laundry, Craft, San Francisco’s Quince, and Animal in Los Angeles. The restaurant is not a cannabis consumption lounge and does not imbue food or drinks with any psychoactive components (such as THC), though it does have an exclusive relationship with the only federally approved hemp grower for food, Ziese Farms. As such, the mostly plant-based, though not exclusively, menu will at times lean into the use of hemp, including as a standalone leaf battered with chickpea flour to be served as a starter. Magliano will also offer a variety of hemp-made goods as part of a future retail component.

A vertical image close up of a tan bowl with fresh salad and greens.
The Garden Of with pea tendrils and cara cara oranges.

Otherwise expect a menu rooted in plants, from beluga lentils bathed in coconut milk to spicy roasted cauliflower, with mostly vegan pastas, some sourdough pizzas, meatier mains like ora king salmon and a turmeric-rubbed roast chicken. The restaurant’s bar will also turn out natural wines, housemade kombucha, adaptogenic teas, and cocktails (both alcoholic and zero-proof). The opening menu is below.

Studio Unltd (Bavel the Rose Cafe, M. Georgina) is behind the build-out, crafting a greenhouse-like main dining room — complete with an atrium-style lofted glass ceiling and filled with banquettes, booths, oakwood tables, and more. There’s a marble bar just beyond, a separate lounge area, and a third chef’s table space that seats 10 diners a night offering views into the kitchen. All told, the 6,000-square-foot restaurant can seat 200 diners at a clip, with dinner service only to start.

Elsewhere in the Hill Street building is the Green Street Agency, a creative firm backed by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk that works exclusively in the cannabis space. Together, Gusto Green and the Green Street Agency will open a rooftop bar, lounge, and private event space in 2022 as well, with its own menu and room for 150 people at a time. The low-lit evening hangout will offer views of the Downtown landscape in addition to live music, events, and installations.

For now, there is Gusto Green, opening in January at 718 S. Hill Street in Downtown. Hours run Wednesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a cafe, grab-and-go service, and other restaurant activations to come in early 20221.

Update: Due to a mechanical issue inside the restaurant, Gusto Green’s opening is delayed until mid-January 2022.

A close up photo of roasted purple sweet potatoes at a restaurant.
Okinawa sweet potato.
A leg of roasted chicken in a golden jus on a plate.
Turmeric-black pepper chicken.
Two hemp leaves fried on a tan plate.
Chickpea-fried hemp.
A tan bowl with green and grilled mushrooms at a restaurant.
Sunflower seed risotto.
Curried lentils and green sauce in a darkened dining room of a restaurant.
Beluga green curry.
A top-down look at aguachile based on tomatillos with lots of greens and peppers in a stone bowl.
Tomatillo aguachile.
A new restaurant’s dining room with glass ceiling, shown from the side.
The tall, airy dining room.
The long restaurant bar at a new space in Downtown LA.
A long bar with maroon seats.
Brown booths with black seats and wooden tables in a new restaurant.
Tall glass walls with art beyond at a new restaurant, with wooden tables.
Orange booths and walls at a new restaurant shown at night.
A long table with black chairs as part of a private dining setup for a new restaurant.
Signs for Gusto Green with a small patio, a restaurant in Downtown LA.
Out front.

Gusto Green

718 South Hill Street, , CA 90014 (323) 218-0294 Visit Website
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