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A colorful patio with hanging lights. Wonho Frank Lee

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Inside Prolific Chef Ricardo Zarate’s New Peruvian Restaurant in Silver Lake

Causita opened doors this week in the former Sawyer space

Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Chef Ricardo Zarate has eyes for Silver Lake. Specifically, Sunset Boulevard between Lucile and Edgecliff with his latest restaurant, Causita. Zarate’s opened his Nikkei Peruvian food restaurant on April 19 next door to the recently reopened Bar Moruno.

Helping to establish the modern Peruvian genre in Los Angeles, Zarate opened Mo-Chica in 2009 at Mercado la Paloma nearby USC, expanding to his celebrated Picca restaurant in Pico-Robertson in 2011. He later reopened Mo-Chica in Downtown LA and debuted Paiche in Marina del Rey (the two locations have since closed). Zarate made a subtle comeback with his Once pop-up series, which expanded into a full-fledged Peruvian restaurant inside the Palazzo in Las Vegas. He helped open the popular Rosaliné in West Hollywood in 2017, though his current involvement there is unclear; that same year, he helped develop the menu at Mama Lion in Koreatown. In the past five years, he’s mostly been laying low.

However, 2022 is proving to be a busy year for Zarate. The prolific chef opened Short Stories in February across the street from the Original Farmers Market in the former Farmer’s Daughter hotel. While Short Stories dives into a combination of Peruvian dishes and California classics, Causita — the Peruvian slang term for “best friends” — leans into Japanese and Peruvian ingredients, or Nikkei cuisine. The seafood-heavy menu includes starters of ceviches and tiraditos, along with a nigiri causa nikkei. Zarate serves Peru’s traditional potato or causa, with sushi-like preparations of tuna, salmon, and other raw fish served with a side of potato. He served a version of this causa at Picca as well.

Small plates at Causita include gem caesar and steamed bao with gochujang sauce, parmesan, beets, and pork belly, while medium-sized shared plates might be grilled octopus or lamb ragu. When ready for a full platter, opt for the sea bass tamale with mushroom coffee jus, or the branzino with a butterbean artichoke mousse, and jalapeño sauce with roasted tomato. Zarate is in his element here, with some innovative creations like foie gras churro bombs with the citrusy lucuma fruit and cranberry. He also serves a multi-course Nikkei steak omakase that costs $100 a person.

Former Ma’am Sir and Sotto bartender Ramsey Musk developed the drinks around pisco, Peru’s traditional brandy, along with Japanese whiskey, sochu, tequila, rums, and plenty of fresh ingredients. Also on board is sake, local beers, plus an organic and biodynamic wine list curated by Intent to Dine Hospitality Group’s David Rosoff.

Speaking of Rosoff, Causita is the group’s third, and potentially final restaurant in Silver Lake’s Sunset Triangle Plaza. The property already has Bar Moruno and Rápido — a grab-and-go market featuring wines, bites by chef Chris Feldmeier, and Jyan Isaac Bread. The team utilized Studio UNLTD for its overall design, which created distinct looks for each space.

Hours for Causita are Tuesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 10:30 p.m. Reservations are on Resy.

Layered Peruvian cured fish with potato, and squash.
Causa nikkei with kampachi
A combination of ceviches in a pink bowl.
Ceviche mixto
A deep-fried lobster dumpling with creme fraiche.
Lobster dumpling
A caesar salad with anchovy.
Little gem caesar
Branzino with a butterbean-artichoke mousse, jalapeño sauce, and roasted tomato.
Branzino with a butterbean-artichoke mousse, jalapeño sauce, and roasted tomato
An assortment of plates at Causita restaurant in Silver Lake, California.
A red pisco cocktail in a large glass.
Pucara Pisco Punch
A purple cocktail with a shiso leaf.
Girl from Lobitos cocktail with Avua Prata cachaca, Paranubes rum, Blanc Vermouth, passionfruit, ginger, lime, and a shiso foam
A yellow cocktail with foam.
Zara mama highball with Toki whiskey, barley sochu, chicha morada soda, and yuzu bitters
A dining room with chairs and bar in the background.
Dining room
A bar with blue chairs and bottles on the wall.
Dining area with wood tables, brick wall, paintings, and wood floors.
Dining room with tables and long windows.
Front dining room
Central dining area.
Central dining area
A white door with writing.
Dining room with tables and pictures.
A colorful patio with hanging lights.
A corner table on a patio with green chairs.
Corner table
Climbing vines, plants, and tables on an outdoor patio.
Entry to Causita restaurant in Silver Lake, California.


3709 Sunset Boulevard, , CA 90026 (323) 546-0505 Visit Website
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