Aerialists twirl upside down, pouring champagne into glasses as new visitors enter Mr. Wanderlust at Level 8. It’s a bold opening for the property at large, conceived and built by the Houston brothers, Mark and Jonnie Houston (No Vacancy, Davey Wayne’s, La Descarga) and Lightstone. As guests walk from one smaller room in Mr. Wanderlust to another larger one through a hidden entrance, they enter a vast library-style bar with a rotating piano, artifacts from around the world, and custom wallpapers and fabrics that span a vibrant range of colors. The splashy new Downtown restaurant and bar opens to the public on August 24.
Located on the eighth floor of the Moxy and AC hotels, the massive new Level 8 spans 30,000 square feet, encompassing eight different bars and eateries. Among the first to arrive is Lucky Mizu, a higher-end shabu-shabu option from fine dining Hisae Stuck (Joel Robuchon), with other projects from names like Ray Garcia (Asterid) and Joshua Gil (Mirate) still to come. And now there is Mr. Wanderlust, a globetrotting, high-flying piano bar and jazz lounge. The opening menu from beverage director Devon Espinosa pulls from bars and cocktail histories around the world, and includes collaborations with exceptional mixologists like Christian “Suzu” Suzuki-Orellana (Wildhawk in San Francisco and Netflix’s Drink Masters), Kate Gerwin (Happy Accidents in Albuquerque and Netflix’s Drink Masters), and Naomi Schimek (Soulmate in West Hollywood).
Executive chef Richard Archuleta (Openaire) oversees all the Level 8 concepts, including the food menu at Mr. Wanderlust. Archuleta says that stepping into Mr. Wanderlust is like immersing oneself in the eclectic library of a world traveler. “Everything in Mr. Wanderlust is designed behind a craft cocktail program,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of different inspiration. There’s some Asian, Southern Californian, and South American influence on the menu, and a little Indian influence.” To mirror the drinks menu, small bites at Mr. Wanderlust evoke dishes from all corners of the globe, like a raw tuna pani puri that plays off a popular Mumbai street food, and a caviar toad in the hole.
The library-like space is dark and ambient, filled with vibrant, rich fabrics; tall, lit bookcases; custom wallpaper; and a vast bar space. There are purse hooks shaped like exotic animals, various pieces of art and decor gathered from travels, and performances from live musicians, dancers, and aerialists. Guests can catch performances from the rotating piano bar or a second stage that will host a live band.
Customers who move through the Mr. Wanderlust space are — via a hidden door — brought to Lucky Mizu, the shabu-shabu and seiro-mushi restaurant from Stuck, which opens next week. There’s also the poolside carousel bar Golden Hour, where visitors can lounge and order from Archuleta’s menu of summery classics like burgers, strawbery-yuzu granita, and drinks from Espinosa.
Level 8 will also soon include teppanyaki restaurant Maison Kasai (which guests can enter through another hidden entrance in Mr. Wanderlust) and al fresco oyster and champagne bar Mother of Pearl from Gil. Other Level 8 spots include live-fire cooking eatery Qué Bárbaro and food truck-esque late-night spot Brown Sheep from Garcia, and dual-concept bar Sinners y Santos from the Houston brothers. It’s an unreal undertaking that could help to transform the Downtown hospitality scene in short order, especially once all of the restaurants and bars are up and running simultaneously in just a few short weeks.
Mr. Wanderlust and Level 8 are located at 1254 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015. The space is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. through midnight. From Thursday through Saturday, hours extend until 2 a.m. Reservations are available on OpenTable.