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Diego Hernandez, One of Mexico’s Best Chefs, Returns to Los Angeles

The former Verlaine chef has overhauled the Dudley Market menu in Venice, with plans to open a HiFi listening bar next door

Chef wearing dark apron checks orders inside a restaurant kitchen.
Chef Diego Hernandez, the new chef at Dudley Market in Venice.
Rob Hoffman
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Back in 2017, celebrated Mexican chef Diego Hernandez made a splash when he landed at the short-lived Verlaine in West Hollywood, which occupied the former Dominick’s space. Hernandez made a name at his Valle de Guadalupe restaurant Corazón de Tierra and has recently been the chef at Ensenada’s La Bete Noire, a high fidelity bar and lounge with a seasonal small plate menu. Now, Hernandez has landed as the chef of Dudley Market, a beachside Venice restaurant that sources much of its own seafood from its fleet of fishing boats that get fish from nearby waters. Dudley, which was closed for a short period, reopened earlier this week with Hernandez at the helm.

Hernandez is now incorporating a lot of his well-seasoned Baja-Mediterranean approach to the menu, though Dudley will keep on some classics to cater to regulars. Given his considerable talents as a former chef of a Latin America 50 Best Restaurants winner, Hernandez’s cooking at Dudley Market is a huge boon for the Westside neighborhood.

Diego Hernandez, Ray Wicks, Connor Mitchell, and Dina O’Connor, the team behind Dudley Market pose for a photo in black and white.
Diego Hernandez, Danny Miller, Connor Mitchell, and Dina O’Connor, the team behind Dudley Market.
Rob Hoffman

The updated Dudley Market menu features a shrimp quesadilla with ajillo spices, cabbage, and pickled onions while a line-caught tuna tostada comes with chimichurri. A stripe bass collar taco or tuna collar quesadilla shows the restaurant’s commitment to using as much of the fish as possible while adding flavors from Hernandez’s Mexican flavor arsenal.

Hernandez will join forces with Dudley’s partners Connor Mitchell and Dina O’Connor, as well as Ray Wicks and Alexandra Purcaru, to create an LA version of La Bete Noire they’re calling Gray Area. With an even stronger slant toward grilled fish, meats, and vegetables, Gray Area will echo the Ensenada bar with high-fidelity tunes curated by local DJs paired with the food in a space that will start the evening as a date-friendly lounge and then open up to more standing room and mingling. Taking elements from Japanese listening bars and scene-ier, loungier environments, Gray Area should be a solid hit with music-loving Venice denizens, who already have places like Winston House to enjoy music with food. The cocktail menu will receive a dose of consultation from Purcaru, who helped assemble the drinks at La Bete Noire, but became a bigger name from her work at Oaxaca bar Selva, a North America 50 Best Bar this past year.

Christopher “nicely” Abel Alameda, barista of Hooked, a new coffee pop-up at the Dudley Market space, posing for a black and white photograph wearing striped overalls.
Christopher “nicely” Abel Alameda, barista of Hooked, a new coffee pop-up at the Dudley Market space.
Rob Hoffman

Gray Area likely won’t open until spring 2023 in the space adjacent to Dudley Market on Dudley Avenue. However, the building has gained yet another item of note: Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda, a longtime barista at nearby Menotti’s, has opened a coffee pop-up called Hooked inside the space that serves daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Tuesdays) featuring only natural processed coffees via espresso and batch drip, with some of his signature coffee drinks on the menu as well. Overall, between Hooked, Dudley’s new menu, and Gray Area, the building just off the Venice waterfront should bring a slew of revitalized cocktails, food, wine, and coffee to thirsty and hungry locals.

Dish of raw fish with garnishes.
Rockfish crudo grated celebrity tomato and olive oil, Mexican sour gherkins and avocado-ginger purée at Dudley Market.
Rob Hoffman
Garnishing a raw fish dish at Dudley Market.
Tuna and watermelon tartare, Tamari, shiso and tempura Swiss chard with aonori.
Rob Hoffman

Dudley Market

9 Dudley Avenue, , CA 90291 (310) 392-0825 Visit Website