Rita’s Deluxe from chef Luke Reyes, which opens Tuesday, November 14 is the third diner to grace Downtown since August along with Moonlark’s Dinette and Denae’s. Named after Reyes’s grandmother, the restaurant is a cozy transformation of the Petite Peso and Rice Bar space complete with counter seats, milkshakes, a soda fountain, and burgers. Designer Abby Kuskin reimagined the snug 10-by-10-foot room that overlooks Seventh Street between Hill and Olive Streets.
Most know Reyes from his American bistro menu at the former Butchers & Barbers and now-closed 9th Street Ramen. But Reyes got his start cooking professionally at the age of 15 at McDonald’s where he learned about short-order preparation and the differences between Quarter Pounders and Big Macs. “An actual love of fast food is what fuels this,” says Reyes. “I’m taking my fine dining past and putting it into a burger. Hopefully, you can get a taste without the pretense.”
Reyes tells Eater that the birth of his daughter further inspired him to slow down and cease constant travel to Canada as the chef and co-managing partner at Gitanes Restaurant Group in Ottowa, his most recent gig before opening Rita’s Deluxe.
Reyes, along with friend and business partner Collier Ulrich, conducted an East Coast and Midwest diner tour before settling on Rita’s unfussy menu. The burger can be made with single, double, or triple patties and two types of American cheddar. Meatless patties come from Impossible, while the grass-fed beef is a combination of brisket and chuck that’s specifically ground for Rita’s by Strauss. Reyes created a tangy sauce for the burger that’s stacked with white onion and lettuce; potential upgrades include adding bacon, chopped cherry peppers, and caramelized onions.
The fried chicken sandwich is pounded flat, brined in buttermilk and pickle juice for 24 hours, coated in panko breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and layered with chile crisp mayo, tomato, pickles, and American cheese.
Side dishes include crinkle-cut fries prepared in beef tallow and served with or without cheese and onions, along with fried cheese curds as a nod to Reyes’s Midwest appreciation. Milkshakes are made with Clover Organic dairy and McConnell’s Ice Cream, including strawberry and vanilla flavors topped with potato chips. In the months ahead, Reyes will feature special milkshakes and grill items.
Rita’s Deluxe is located at 419 W. Seventh Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90014, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.