A Top Chef mega-star and one of Orange County’s most well-known restaurateurs is coming to Downtown Los Angeles for the first time. Amar Santana, who is currently appearing on the All-Stars series of Top Chef, will open his Spanish restaurant Vaca inside the new Beaudry residential building at 960 W. 7th Street.
Santana has been a certified culinary celebrity for years, appearing on food, competition, and travel shows in some capacity since he first opened Vaca nearly a decade ago. The Spanish restaurant was a big win for Orange County at the time, and put Santana at the center of the South Coast Plaza dining scene — part of a $2 billion empire that spans dozens of restaurants and one of the area’s most influential families, the Segerstroms.
Now Santana will recreate that Spanish magic in Downtown LA, with an opening pegged for early next year, in a space designed and built by Studio UNLTD. This northern extension should carry much of the same menu as the original, spread across cocktails like gin and tonics and vermouth to a wide array of tapas, jamón options, grilled meats, and paella. Vaca will immediately compete with nearly a dozen new or emerging entrants in the greater LA area that are now cooking Spanish food, the city’s unquestionably hot cuisine of the moment. That includes star chef José Andrés, who already has a collection of restaurants in Downtown near the Walt Disney Concert Hall, with more to come.
The Beaudry, owned and leased by Brookfield Properties, is just the latest so-called “elevated living experience” to hit Downtown LA, meaning luxury apartments with sweeping views of the glittering city beyond. The 785-unit residential building sits adjacent to the FIGat7th development (another Brookfield property), and close to South Park, L.A. Live, and a number of other Downtown areas, though apartment dwellers will likely be tempted to stay close to home once Santana opens Vaca early next year. Much like the incoming Daniel Boulud project opening inside an upscale development in Beverly Hills, residents will even be able to get bespoke food and drink from Santana’s Vaca Group served inside the 600-foot-tall building.