The timing is ideal for a new player to open a summertime rooftop bar with a coastal menu at a former big-name hotelier space in Downtown Los Angeles. Swinging in with a sweeping rooftop view is Bar Clara, which opens today atop Hotel Per La, the former Nomad.
Bar Clara is the first opening within Hotel Per La, with the ground floor, separate restaurant, and cafe set to open in September. But for now, drinkers and diners can arrive at the Olive Street entrance (not Seventh Street), take the elevator to the rooftop, and nab a chair or lounge next to the pool or the gargoyle-face fireplace.
There’s a lot to take in, most notably the very familiar-looking pool and bar — anyone who visited Nomad will recognize the light adjustments, along with the airy central bar with cocktails. The latter was developed by longtime LA cocktail-inventor Coleen Morton, who put together drinks that cater to day drinking, particularly a selection of on-tap spritzes. They range from light to boozy, and include an orange variety spritz topped off with French brut champagne and a mix of vermouth, amaro, and grapefruit.
Auburn veteran Rick Arline is Bar Clara’s wine director, who put together a thoughtful list that’s curated from coastal Mediterranean climates around the globe. There’s something from Italy, France, Northern California, and a small vintner from Santa Barbara that Arline knows personally.
Tying all of this together is the food menu, which works its through appetizers, shared plates, salads, and mains. Chef Courtney Van Dyke — who grew up in the San Fernando Valley and cut her teeth at high-profile spots like the Maybourne — put together a bright menu that’s got pickled deviled eggs and a Bar Moruno-esque touch with a platter of tinned sardines, pickled vegetables, and toast for starters. A gem salad and harissa-skewered prawns over a bed of dill-infused yogurt will be natural poolside options, but the hangar steak and herb-stuffed snapper will be best eaten at one of the terrace tables.
As for the name, Bar Clara is a nod to Claire Giannini, the first woman to serve on the board of the Bank of Italy, which eventually became Bank of America. That tribute is far from random, as Hotel Per La is inside the Giannini Building, which housed the former Bank of Italy in 1922. Owners HN Capital Partners partnered with operator Sage Hospitality Group to revamp the entire building. That update includes hiring local artists like Jessalyn Brooks, who painted a spiraling mural that surrounds the main bar.
Reservations can be made through Open Table, and the all-day menu runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.