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A combination of Middle Eastern dishes at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Mezze platter at Ladyhawk.
Neetu Laddha Photography

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‘Top Chef’ Winner From Lebanon Opens His First-Ever Restaurant in West Hollywood

Chef Charbel Hayek’s Ladyhawk opens Thursday at WeHo's Kimpton La Peer hotel

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.

West Hollywood hotel Kimpton La Peer’s restaurant has shifted its operations three times since 2018. First was chef Casey Lane’s popular Italian spot Viale dei Romani, and then Issima by the Boujis Group in 2021. It only made sense to make use of such a grand space in a busy restaurant zone that includes the likes of Catch, Craig’s, and Olivetta within a stone’s throw. Beginning Thursday, November 2, Ladyhawk showcases a personal Mediterranean menu from Top Chef Middle East winner Charbel Hayek.

Ladyhawk is a thoughtful move by the Kimpton Hotel group. Though West Hollywood has some of Southern California’s most compelling dining, upscale Mediterranean isn’t as prominent. The team committed to Mediterranean food in this corner of WeHo and found the ambitious 25-year-old chef to lead the kitchen. Hayek spent three years at Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse before returning to his hometown of Beirut, Lebanon. While there, he won season five of Top Chef Middle East, then moved to Florida to work as a private chef before returning to LA. At Ladyhawk — a name inspired by his mother — Hayek is taking a more intimate approach to his Lebanese menu with some childhood dishes making an appearance.

“Since I started, I always learned someone else’s food by working with great chefs and learning French cuisine. I spent seven years working with different kinds of cuisines just to get experience, but I never felt something connecting with my soul as a chef.”

Hayek says competing on Top Chef brought him back to his roots thanks to the show’s format of telling a story around each dish. Hayek’s Lebanese traditions are front and center at Ladyhawk, with family-style dishes served on eye-catching platters. Hayek says this approach is designed to make diners feel at home, just like they would be in Lebanon.

Hayek’s Spanish ahi tuna crudo — his winning dish — can be found on Ladyhawk’s menu. The mezze menu features familiar to Angelenos, which has a robust Mediterranean scene. Think falafel, baba ghanoush, labneh, marinated olives, tahini with fried cauliflower, and pita made with a 48-hour fermented dough. Hayek’s mother’s recipes are all over the menu, including the fattoush salad, hummus, chicken, and tabbouli, served with minimal alterations. On the grill, Hayek cooks octopus or prawns, along with mains like the olive-crusted rack of lamb or shawarma skirt steak.

A spoon scoops a Middle Eatern pudding from a bowl at Ladyhawk in Los Angeles.
Passionfruit muhalabieh (pudding).

The team brought in wines from the Middle East to complement Ladyhawk’s menu along with a short list of cocktails. The La Peer team did some minor updates to the ceiling, floor, decoration, and seating, so those who have visited the space before will see the resemblances.

“I want people to have a full table of spreads and small plates,” says Hayek. “Everyone is used to concepts where you get your plate and you eat it by yourself. But food brings people together. I want them to feel my home. Ladyhawk is my roots.”

Ladyhawk is located at 623 North La Peer Drive, West Hollywood, CA, 90069, and is open from Tuesday to Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and remains open until 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday. The bar opens at 5 p.m. daily.

An ahi tuna crudo from Ladyhawk restaurant in West Hollywood.
Spanish ahi tuna crudo.
A tabbouli salad with butter lettuce at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Tabbouli.
An assortment of dishes with cocktails and wine at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Mezze platter.
Duck with rose blossom, Szechuan, and sesame at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Dry-aged duck with rose blossom, Sichuan, and sesame.
Whole grilled bream, lamb chops, and shishito peppers with smoked tahini at Ladyhawk in West Hollywood.
Whole grilled bream, lamb chops, and shishito peppers with smoked tahini.
Three cocktails from Ladyhawk restaurant in West Hollywood.
From left to right: Marmara and Black, Souq of Byblos, and Argonauts Enemies.

Ladyhawk

623 North La Peer Drive, , CA 90069 (213) 296-3036 Visit Website
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