There is no shortage of wolf-themed restaurants and names around Los Angeles, both past and present. There’s the now-closed Wolf on Melrose, plus newer spots like Wolfie’s Hot Chicken in Highland Park, the Wolves in Downtown, and Mother Wolf — the latter being arguably LA’s hottest reservation at the moment. As of Thursday, newcomer Wolfe’s Den joins its fellow moniker-loving restaurants in the LA fray, except this spot is trying to play a very different game, matching Southern soul food with Southern California classics to make a menu all its own.
Atlanta-born chef Shane Robinson says that he chose the name Wolfe’s Den as an homage to the famed animal’s nomadic nature. “Historically, wolves roamed the entire world and were not stuck to any one area,” says Robinson. “Opening my own restaurant allows me to explore with as many techniques and flavors as I want, [and] expose people to a different experience with familiar items.”
Robinson moved to Los Angeles in 2013 with a dream to open his own place but spent years first roving across various LA kitchens to better understand the lay of the land. He has worked at Phillip Frankland Lee’s Scratch Bar & Kitchen, the shuttered Birch in Hollywood, and at Topanga Canyon’s Inn of the Seventh Ray. Feeling creatively limited while working for others, Robinson prepared to open a place of his own during the ongoing pandemic.
Take the traditional Reuben on the Wolfe’s Den menu. For his version, Robinson has infused the sandwich with a collard green sauerkraut and a chili relish. His Southern carbonara, meanwhile, is made with bacon, parmesan, collard greens, and a poached egg. The OG Nipsey burger (named after the slain rapper Nipsey Hussle) is a half-pound patty with jalapeno, bleu cheese, bacon jam on a brioche bun. Catfish and shrimp po’boys are also available, as is a chicken sandwich with Robinson’s proprietary sweet, tangy, slightly spicy sauce.
The new Wolfe’s Den is part of the semi-hidden Cloud Kitchens building, a longtime ghost kitchen operation that set up before the pandemic on Washington between Normandie and Vermont. Though the official opening date is February 17, orders are available through DoorDash or Uber Eats now, and walk-ups are welcome. It’s the second soul food-style restaurant to open in the community space over the last month, with Gritz & Wafflez making its debut in late January. Wolfe’s Den should appeal to the later crowds with hours from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Sundays.