In post-2020 Los Angeles dining, it’s surprising enough to see a chef-owner maintain the same space for more than a decade — not to mention one that he’s pivoted successfully (more than once) through the pandemic and has now spun into an all-day restaurant with influences spanning Southern California, New York City, and South Korea. For all these reasons and more, Eric Park’s Bodega Park, which opened quietly in February of this year, is causing a sandwich stir — think melty cheese pulls of its bacon, egg, and cheese and aji chicken burrito — on Instagram and beyond.
Before Bodega Park became a reality, Park and his wife Miriam had been through hell and back, like so many other restaurateurs once COVID shut down cities across the U.S. “During COVID, we never had time to slow down,” Park says. Prior to 2020, the Parks had been operating the space at 2852 Sunset Boulevard as a dual concept: Black Hogg Sandwiches and Ohana Superette, which offered poke bowls and other Hawaiian specialties. When COVID hit in March 2020, Eric and Miriam closed the restaurants, as well as another poke spot they owned in Downtown LA, and transitioned to a cook-at-home, to-go concept called Black Hogg Quality Meats. Offering pre-marinated meal kits like Peruvian chicken, lomo saltado, and more, the reframe helped them stay afloat until early 2022, when they decided to reopen the space as Bodega Park.
“The whole thing is about creating food we like and enjoy,” says Park. This simple statement is the reason why Bodega Park’s singular menu is packed with so many different influences — ranging from spicy house-made pork bulgogi to aji-marinated chicken to classic Italian deli meats. Park has always operated his restaurants with the mindset that when he can’t find a great version of a favorite food, he’ll just make it himself.
That said, the format he comes back to time and again is sandwiches: They’ve been the centerpiece of Park’s career since day one and even play a significant role in the couple’s love story. Prior to attending culinary school in New York City in 2010, Park owned a Togo’s sandwich shop; the two native Angelenos met at a franchise meeting and have been inseparable since. Following post-culinary school internships at Eleven Madison Park and the Spotted Pig, Park returned to LA in 2012 and opened Black Hogg Gastropub, one of the first chef-driven restaurants in Silver Lake at the time (in the very same space where Bodega Park resides today). But it was Black Hogg’s lunch menu that really caught on, so much so that the place went through multiple sandwich-driven iterations, including Black Hogg Sandwiches and Sopressata Silverlake.
These days, the menu at Bodega Park reads like a greatest hits of Park’s career: there’s the classic sopressata with fontina, arugula, onion, mayo, aged balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, on a baguette (a carryover from the prior restaurant of the same name), as well as that aji chicken burrito, stuffed with Peruvian-style chicken, hash browns, eggs, and aji verde sauce (inspired by the Peruvian chicken from Black Hogg Quality Meats). A chopped cheese (chopped beef patty with American cheese, grilled onion and jalapeno, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mayo) and a thick-cut bacon, egg, and cheese are both bodega staples, which nod to the time Park spent in New York City.
Still other items are culled from Park’s own Korean heritage, like the dry-rubbed, potato starch-breaded Korean hot chicken, nabbed from the menu at Ohana Superette. Given its popularity on social media, Bodega Park is filling a crucial niche for the area, which was clearly primed for a spot that combines all-day breakfast, great sandwiches, good coffee, and a casual meeting space.
The cafe’s excellent drinks come courtesy of Miriam. She uses beans from Korean American roaster House Roots to make beverages like the Bodega Vanilla, which melds espresso with scraped vanilla bean pods and Korean brown sugar for an upgraded version of a vanilla latte. The Misugaru Black Sesame is another highlight, combining the Korean powder made from roasted grains with espresso, oat milk, and a black sesame foam. On the sweets side, popular Korean American bakery MIL has been popping up on weekends with its signature cream-filled buns and more. During the week, Sugarbloom Bakery provides a selection of pastries.
While the sleek, minimalist space outfitted with light wood is a far cry from an actual NYC bodega, the couple’s version of a bodega cat lives on the restaurant’s logo: an image of a tiger and a butterfly, which symbolize their two children, Emma and Ericsson. “When I first moved to NYC for culinary school, the first meal I had was at a bodega,” Park says. “I would go there two to three times a week, and after a while it started to feel like home. That’s what we wanted to create here: a place where neighbors can come together and enjoy a good coffee and a good sandwich.”
Bodega Park is open at 2852 Sunset Boulevard from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.