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Mexican seafood dishes from Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Mexican seafood dishes from Loreto in Elysian Valley.

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LA’s Freshest Tostadas and Ceviches Arrive at This Stylish Frogtown Warehouse

The team behind Cha Cha Chá opens Loreto in a Frogtown with ceviches, tostadas, and zarandeados in a midcentury modern-inspired industrial warehouse

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.

Elysian Valley, also known as Frogtown, isn’t always thought of as a place to open an ambitious restaurant, with nearby areas of Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Atwater Village working as more well-known LA restaurant neighborhoods. But with the recently opened Lingua Franca and now Loreto, which comes from the LA Cha Cha Chá team, it’s clear that this quiet area next to the LA River speckled with offices and production spaces features some tremendous opportunities to open visually stunning restaurants.

Walking into Loreto, opening March 24, is like stepping into a portal — a sleek, high-design room where every detail seems pored over and thought out. Exposed wood rafters give the former warehouse a robust, timeless touch while the arresting bar offers sweeping golden shelves to display spirits and wine. Designer Lena Kohl imprints a stylish perspective blending midcentury modern furniture and accents (check out the wooden wine storage embedded into the banquettes) with industrial exposed brick that wouldn’t be out of place in Mexico City. And the spacious outdoor patio is still covered with loose sandy gravel, imparting a desert-meets-ocean vibe in the Sonoran side of the Gulf of California (sans water view).

As for the menu, cooks fling out upscale, polished takes on ceviches and tostadas that might comprise a few appetizers at other Mexican seafood-influenced spots, but occupy the vast majority of the bill of fare here. Chef Paco Moran leans on almost all Mexican seafood (except Maine lobster), incorporating Sinaloan shrimp, Baja scallops, and other fish from the Pacific. The judicious but highly effective use of salsa negra adds an umami punch to tostada mixtas and aguachile.

Dining area and sweeping bar of Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Dining area and sweeping bar of Loreto in Elysian Valley.

The impressive Torre (tower), built with shrimp, tuna, octopus, scallop, and uni, serves as a luxurious take on the Sinaloan classic. A tight list of hot botanas includes the spicy lobster torta ahogada, panko-crusted prawn taco with bacon morita aioli, and half-moon empanadas de camarón. Four kinds of zarandeado serve as the shareable mains, including fish of the day (currently branzino), octopus, shrimp, and lobster served with all the accoutrements: black refried beans, rice, quesadillas, pickled onions, and two kinds of salsa.

Cocktails come via Adam Ohler, who knew to pair salty, refreshing drinks with delicate but well-seasoned seafood. The margarita’s agave syrup is infused with sea salt instead of adding a salt rim, blending mezcal and tequila for an easy-sipping start. Ohler’s Garibaldi cocktail eschews a Negroni, which might overwhelm the seafood, for a drink rounded with orange juice, star anise, and Campari.

Mexican seafood has seen some new contenders recently, from Sinaloan expansion El Muelle 8 in Downey to the established but relocated Holbox, currently working out of a Downtown food truck. Loreto serves as an evening-only seafood destination while the outside, once it opens later this year, will operate as Mariscos Za Za Zá (the previous name for this restaurant). Za Za Zá focuses on affordable fresh seafood served from a window that’s meant to be enjoyed outdoors on the expansive patio.

Loreto is open Thursday to Monday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with eventual Tuesday and Wednesday service. Reservations are available on Resy and it’s located 1991 Blake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, with $15 valet.

Tostada a la Joaquin, seared otoro tuna, soy onion, fire-roasted tomato, avocado, and yuzu vinaigrette.
Tostada a la Joaquin, seared otoro tuna, soy onion, fire-roasted tomato, avocado, and yuzu vinaigrette.
Torre, a tower of shrimp, bluefin tuna, Mayan octopus, scallop, and uni.
Torre, a tower of shrimp, bluefin tuna, Mayan octopus, scallop, and uni at Loreto.
Paloma Todos Santos, with tequila, sotol, creme de cacao blanco, pomelo-canela.
Paloma Todos Santos, with tequila, sotol, creme de cacao blanco, pomelo-canela.
Gran Reserva old fashioned.
Gran Reserva old fashioned.
Dimly lit dining room of Loreto in Los Angeles with leafy accents.
Loreto bar area with dining tables.
Dining area and part of the bar at Loreto.
Dining area and part of the bar at Loreto.
Wine storage nearby the banquette at Loreto.
Wine storage nearby the banquette at Loreto.
Entrance to Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Entrance to Loreto in Elysian Valley.
Manhattan Antigua.
Manhattan Antigua.
Trans Mundo Garibaldi.
Trans Mundo Garibaldi.
Pescado zarandeando with rice, beans, salsas, onions, and quesadillas with blue corn tortillas.
Pescado zarandeando with rice, beans, salsas, onions, and quesadillas with blue corn tortillas.
Ceviche Magdalena with yellowtail, honeydew, and cucumber.
Ceviche Magdalena with yellowtail, honeydew, and cucumber.
Tostada mixta with shrimp and scallop over fish ceviche, salsa negra, and avocado.
Tostada mixta with shrimp and scallop over fish ceviche, salsa negra, and avocado.
Outdoor dining at Loreto.
Outdoor dining at Loreto.
Pink-hued dining area with wine bottles at Loreto.
Pink-hued dining area with wine bottles at Loreto.
Dining areas at Loreto restaurant in Los Angeles.
Dining areas at Loreto.
Fish hanging and other prepped ingredients behind the bar at Loreto.
Fish hanging and other prepped ingredients behind the bar at Loreto.
Bottle storage with wine glass at Loreto.
Bottle storage with wine glass at Loreto.
View inside from the patio at Loreto.
View inside from the patio at Loreto.
Brick-lined dining area inside Loreto.
Brick-lined dining area inside Loreto.
Mil hojas dessert on an ornate plate.
Mil hojas dessert.
Jakob Layman.
Lobster torta ahogada.
Lobster torta ahogada.
Leche de tigre.
Leche de tigre.

Loreto / Mariscos Za Za Zá

1991 Blake Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039 Visit Website
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