Tables are filled with glasses of natural wine and plates of pintxos at chef and owner Sandra Cordero’s Xuntos, a new Spanish tapas bar and restaurant opening in Santa Monica this Friday, July 14. The vibes are laid-back and convivial at Xuntos, which means “together” in Gallego, and the bar feels like a swanky spot straight out of Northern Spain, where pintxos and wines are the start to a slow-paced meal of small plates.
Xuntos opens in the former Heroic Italian restaurant space on Santa Monica Boulevard. Cordero takes over the two-level restaurant, which is complete with two kitchens, a bar, a dining room, and two mezzanine areas. Cordero is also the chef and owner behind Woodland Hills’ Gasolina Cafe, which opened in 2015 and has been known for its Spanish fare since. While Gasolina Cafe is more casual, featuring a dining counter set-up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Xuntos only serves dinner.
Cordero, who is Spanish and Dutch, has created a menu inspired by summers spent on her family farm near A Coruña, Galicia, as well as from other parts of northern Spain, including Asturias, Catalonia, and the Basque Country. Diners can expect a range of pintxos, or small bites, including the classic Gilda, or pepper, olive, and anchovy skewer, served as an amuse bouche, and the sweet and salty bikini, or sandwich with caramelized onions, mozzarella, and truffle.
“We want the food to be simple, but very delicious and ingredient-forward, to let the ingredients shine, like my memories of Spain,” Cordero says. “I really want to be a destination for Spanish food and wine and an ambassador for Spanish culture and hospitality.”
There are also several tapas, or small plates, including patatas bravas, padrón peppers, and fried eggplant slices with quince paste. In keeping with the abundant seafood Cordero grew up with in A Coruña, the tapas menu also features plenty of mariscos, or seafood, and pintxos include a curated selection of conservas, which feature charcoal-grilled and tinned fish. Dessert options include a sweet paella, crema Catalana, and a Tarte de Santiago made with Marcona almonds. The full menu is below.
Xuntos will also serve glasses and bottles of natural Spanish and California wines from a collection curated by sommelier Scott Baker, plus Spanish vermouth, beer, cider, and a few cocktails. Baker, who was previously the wine director at José Andrés’ Beverly Hills restaurant Somni, is also Xuntos’ general manager.
Xuntos’s vibes are swanky and classic, but still pretty laid-back, like a beautiful bar straight from the Iberian peninsula. Since the building was originally built in the 1920s, there are nods to the era throughout, with touches from interior designer Heather Swallow and graphic designer Cecile Michaelis. There’s an Art Deco logo to match the wallpaper in certain areas, plus chandeliers that look like flapper dresses, artwork featuring women from the era, and more. The main dining room wall features 3,000 scallop shells, a nod to the restaurant’s origins and offerings.
Xuntos is the latest Spanish restaurant in Los Angeles, joining the likes of Andrés’ Downtown LA spots San Laurel and Agua Viva, Beverly Hills’ Tatel, Silver Lake’s Bar Moruno, Brentwood’s Teléferic, Pasadena’s Dos Besos, Highland Park’s Otoño, and many more. It also joins other recent Santa Monica openings, including Bar Monette and the Georgian just down the street, plus Interstellar and Mon Ami close by.
Xuntos opens at 516 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401, starting with dinner service from Tuesday to Friday from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The bar will stay open until 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations are available now.