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A hand holds bread over a long pull of griddled cheese in a pan at new Que Barbaro in Los Angeles.

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Ray Garcia’s New Restaurant Is a High-Octane Celebration of South American Grilling

Qué Bárbaro opens on Saturday in Downtown as a modern nod to the customary grilling parties of Argentina and beyond

Argentinian provoleta accompanies lots of meat at the new Qué Bárbaro.
| Andrea D’Agosto
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Ray Garcia is ready to deepen his roots within Downtown Los Angeles. The longtime chef has his restaurant Asterid at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and for years ran lauded restaurants Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria around the neighborhood. Now he’s ready to debut an open flame dynamo known simply as Qué Bárbaro inside the Level 8 development near L.A. Live.

Set against the city skyline, Qué Bárbaro will act as a home for Garcia’s passion for Argentinian and South American cooking. “My wife’s family is from Argentina,” Garcia says. “Going to her family’s house for the first time and having an asado [Argentininan barbecue gathering], it was amazing. The meats on the grill, the conversation, the joy and laughter, and just that ritual of bringing lives together — I want to tap into that cultural experience, and put it in the center of the dining room.”

A chef with slicked-back hair wearing a blue shirt and green apron stands in a jade-colored room at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Chef Ray Garcia.

The menu, shown below, will indeed center on the restaurant’s hearth. There will be big, meaty flourishes like short rib platters accompanied by near-endless sides, as well as traditional picanha steaks, though more curious diners can also lean into seafood like grilled prawns or a swordfish with charred onion aioli. There are non-Argentinian dishes as well, like a dry-aged hamachi tiradito, and fun cross-cultural starters like a warm hearth-cooked cheese served with San Marzano tomato and crusty bread. Basically, everything will have, in one way or another, the kiss of flame and whiff of smoke.

“There will be layers,” says Garcia, “with some stuff cooked in ash, others in embers. Some ingredients will hang low and be slow-roasted. It’s kind of nice to go in the opposite direction of technology I guess, to just connect to what’s in our DNA, that cooking over fire and gathering for a meal.”

Far from the grassy ranges and steep hillsides of a rustic South American backyard, Qué Bárbaro inhabits a jade-toned dining room high above Downtown LA. Cooks at the grill station will be well within view from anywhere inside the indoor-outdoor space, though the open-air patio and off-red quartzite bar are also worthy of a glance. There’s even an extensive collection of agave spirits (supplemented by lots of pisco, rum, and Bolivian singanis) that forms the backbone of bar director Devon Espinosa’s cocktail menu.

For Garcia, the drinks, the open air, and the views into the fire and meat all come together intentionally. “It’s a matter of trying to capture that asado experience and put it through my lens. It should feel like going over to someone’s house.”

The new Qué Bárbaro opens Saturday, August 26 as part of the giant Level 8 compound within the Moxy and AC Hotels in Downtown. Garcia joins a tight collection of other talent inside the Houston brothers’ (No Vacancy, La Descarga) and Lightstone’s bold vision, spread across more than a handful of different drinking and dining destinations on the same floor. Mr. Wanderlust is the show-stopping entryway into that world, with its swinging aerialists and spinning piano, while chef Hisae Stuck oversees shabu-shabu specialist Lucky Mizu just beyond. A bevy of upcoming other concepts from names like Joshua Gil (Mírate) are still slated to open in the coming weeks as well, alongside a more casual, food truck-like experience called the Brown Sheep, also from Garcia.

Fine Qué Bárbaro at 1254 S. Figueroa Street on the eighth floor, with hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.

A high-res look at a dinnertime restaurant on a rooftop near a pool with hanging greenery and wooden booths at LA’s new Que Barbaro.
Dining room views.
Wooden booths and tan leather reveal a colorful, green dinnertime dining room at LA’s new Que Barbaro.
Jade tomes, leather, and intricate fixtures.
Circular gold mirrors and hanging lights and sconces against tiled flooring at new dinnertime LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
A carved stone bar and lots of hanging plants.
A side shot of raw fish with yellow sauce and micro greens in a stone bowl-plate at new restaurant Que Barbaro in Los Angeles, on a marble table.
Dry aged hamachi tiradito with aji verde.
Shrimp with legs attached on a wire grill over flames at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Prawns on the grill.
A skewer of grilled mushrooms and sauce on a blue plate at dinnertime at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Oyster mushroom antichucho with black garlic.
A crispy skinned fish with sauce on a blue plate at dinnertime LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Swordfish with charred onion aioli and farofa.
Slices of grilled beef with bone and sides like greens and chimichurri at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
30-ounce prime short rib with sweet potato and accoutrements.
A round pastry dessert, yellow, with a creamy dollop on top at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Lemon shortcake with guava and goat cheese chantilly.
A round chocolate cake dessert with dollops on top against a wood table at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Chocotorta with coffee syrup and dulce de leche mousse.
A yellow cocktail with floral flourish and greenery poking out on top, set on a wooden table at new LA restaurant Que Barbaro.
Valdivian Jungle.


1254 South Figueroa Street, , CA 90015 (213) 886-8860 Visit Website
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