The next piece of the Frogtown/Elysian Valley dining puzzle is here, as Za Za Zá is now open and serving mariscos of all sorts. This daytime concept marries the footprint of the existing Loreto restaurant with a much more casual service model and lots of spice.
Za Za Zá opened last weekend at 1995 Blake Avenue, just a block in from the Los Angeles River and around the corner from names like La Colombe, Wax Paper, and vegan bakeshop Just What I Kneaded. The lunchtime-only restaurant carries with it the same culinary pedigree as the restaurant Loreto, which opened in March from the team behind LA Cha Cha Chá in the Arts District.
Here chef Paco Moran and his team are doling out Baja staples with a seafood focus, meaning a variety of warm and cold snacks like shrimp rolls with serrano aioli, tostilocos with Colima-style ceviche, and loaded fries with shrimp and lobster. The swordfish al pastor seared tacos are sure to be a hit, as is the calamari and chorizo torta. Because of Loreto’s existing alcohol license, Za Za Zá will also serve a rotation of boozy slushies, canned cocktails, and beer and wine in addition to desserts like soft serve and churros. The opening menu is below.
Perhaps the biggest thing to understand about Za Za Zá, though, is the access. Just like chef Enrique Olvera’s daytime Damian side project Ditroit, in the Art District, the new Za Za Zá comes with its own entry down a side alley along the primary building. Customers will order at the pickup window and can either dine on-site at the sandy, shaded, and sprawling back patio or take food to go. The ease makes the restaurant ideal for laid-back lunches and strolls along the river, though street parking — an ever-present problem in this impacted area of Frogtown that has only further frustrated longtime neighbors as more businesses move in — could take a minute to figure out.
Frogtown has indeed seen a spike in hospitality activity in the past half-decade or so, spurred on by early names like Spoke Bicycle Cafe, Salazar, and Zebulon. The area now serves everything from sandwiches at the aforementioned Wax Paper to fine-casual comfort fare at Lingua Franca. Today curious tourists can come for a coffee, stay for a cocktail, and spend the intervening hours getting a haircut or “tapping into their innate wisdom for epigenetic healing through coherence” from inside a high-end float tank spa. Surely there’s room for some mariscos in there too, hence Za Za Zá’s lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesday).