After months of anticipation, chef Enrique Olvera and Casamata Hospitality Group will open the first West Coast location of Atla on Wednesday, August 2 in Venice. Atla, which made its debut on Lafayette Street in Manhattan in 2017, is a word that bonds the elements of fire and water. The Los Angeles menu will feature Atla hits like quesadillas with epazote, beef barbacoa tacos, and chicken soup, but lean into the abundance of local, seasonal produce, and highlight Olvera’s affection for LA’s Mexican influence in the restaurant’s offerings. “It’s the most Mexican of American cities, which also makes it feel familiar,” says Olvera of Los Angeles.
Olvera is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur that, along with his hospitality group, counts 50 Best Restaurant Pujol in Mexico City, Manta in Cabo, Cosme in New York City (also a 50 Best Restaurant), plus Damian and Ditroit here in Los Angeles in his restaurant portfolio.
This marks Olvera’s third restaurant in the LA market after both Damian and the more casual taquería Ditroit both opened in Fall 2020 within the same Arts District space. In contrast, Atla is a casual restaurant for all occasions where diners can enjoy a quick taco, a one-dish meal, or a round of mezcal with friends, according to Olvera. Diners will soon enter a warm, welcoming 7,200-square-foot space with 140 seats between the bar, indoor dining area, and lush garden. Dining rooms walls painted in soft pastel blue, contrasted by natural wood tables and chairs, create a soothing atmosphere that’s both beachy and hip.
Atla Venice’s everyday Mexican menu includes totopos and salsas, guacamole with tostadas, and avocado toast for starters that are the perfect foil for both tequila and mezcal margaritas, mandarin palomas, or mezcal Negronis. The bright, relaxing garden is a fitting dining area for micheladas rojas — ATLA’s mixed seafood cocktail of shrimp, octopus, and scallops — followed by fish a la talla, a barbecued branzino fillet that’s rubbed in adobo prior to grilling and eaten with lettuce wraps. There are also gringas stuffed with melted cheese and al pastor; Baja California-style lobster burritos; and a classic carne asada plate, served with corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas, another influence from Mexico’s popular border state. Of course, there will be red flaxseed chilaquiles, a dish Angelenos don’t mind enjoying any time of the day or night. “At Atla we will be focusing a lot on local farmers and a clean and healthy approach to Baja-California styles of Mexican cooking,” says Olvera.
Following Atla Venice, the brand plans to open Tacos Atla in Brooklyn later this year, expanding the Casamata Hospitality Group’s footprint in both New York and Los Angeles. “We are focused on strengthening our roots in both cities. However, we are not limited to just these two cities; we always have open ears in places that speak to us and resonate with our philosophy,” says Santiago Pérez of Casamata, a signal that this is just the beginning of Atla as a brand.
Located next door to Felix at the end of the Abbot Kinney’s restaurant row, Atla’s lime-colored banner is a sign of things to come — ceviche, margaritas, and tacos — and a much-needed spot for approachable, contemporary Mexican cuisine on the West Side. It’s Mexican food that lives in our imagination, with the genuine hospitality that defines Casamata. “Warmth is at the core of Mexican culture; we want people to always feel welcomed and cared for with service and with the food we make to hopefully make you feel at home,” says Olvera.
Designed to be a gathering place with a flexible menu for all tastes, Atla Venice will be open from noon until 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.