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This New OC Dining Destination Is an Architectural Wonder — With Tequila

Plus, big-name chefs find new homes, a new Valley restaurant, and more

A sunset view of a tan restaurant with lots of architectural curves and waves, with glowing lights inside.
Outside Palmilla Cocina y Tequila
Art Gray Photography
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.

Palmilla Cocina y Tequila opened late last month in Newport Beach. The restaurant, which hails from the Esperanza/Baja Sharkeez crew out of Manhattan Beach, will focus on Sonoran and Baja-leaning food and cocktails — think a more updated and purposefully designed Javier’s. Famed architect Gulla Jónsdóttir oversaw the build, with a focus on Cabo, the Sea of Cortez, and the rocky, sandy coastlines of Baja at large. Find everything from ceviche starters and shrimp taquitos to steaks and lots of tequila on the menu, with hours from lunch through dinner (plus weekend brunch) daily.

The opening of Palmilla is just one of a handful of recent arrivals and still-to-come projects that have been slowly reshaping Newport Beach, which really started with the opening Lido Marina Village and its signature Nobu (plus Rye Goods, Lido Bottle Works, and others) years ago. Others, like Fable & Spirit, all-day hangout Joey, CdM restaurant, and the forthcoming Sugarfish in Corona del Mar, are just the latest wave of attractions to hit the high-end area.

A wavy, ropey ceiling and long bar inside of a golden-hued restaurant at daytime in Orange County.
Inside Palmilla.
Art Gray Photography

Two big chef shuffles

Chef Zarah Khan is leaving Rustic Canyon after just about a year, with plans to relocate to Portugal for work. That means chef and co-owner Jeremy Fox is back to oversee the kitchen (at least for a while), and the transition begins ahead of Khan’s September 1 departure. There are still a few weeks left to try Khan’s menu take at the venerated Westside restaurant — and diners very much should, says Los Angeles Times critic Bill Addison.

Elsewhere, chef Rudy Lopez (formerly of Cafe Basque and, before that, Soulmate in West Hollywood) is now on as the overall executive chef at the Line Hotel in Koreatown. That means working closely with Josiah Citrin on the rooftop restaurant Openaire as well as handling all of the other dining options inside the building.

A sweetener for the Valley

B Sweet is now open at Topanga Social, the west Valley’s newest culinary hub. Chef-owner Barb Batiste’s massively popular Filipino dessert bar first started in West LA before expanding to the Koreatown area. The new west Valley location will keep daily hours inside the food hall, which continues to ramp up with openings, including the coming arrival of the Pie Room by Curtis Stone.

Events around town to know

Santa Monica’s Papille Gustative is hosting a pasta and champagne evening on Wednesday, August 9. Seats in the private room are $100 a person (plus tax and gratuity), including demonstrations from chef Luigi Fineo, snacks, drinks, and more.

Meanwhile, Highly Likely is running an Italian disco dinner on Saturday, August 12. The West Adams event is a collaboration with Fiky Fiky, and will feature chicken Parm, fettuccini Alfredo, and other dishes served family-style, along with wines. Tickets are $85 per person.

Craft beer drama

There’s lots of drama out in Bell, reports L.A. Taco, as Border X brewery is seemingly taking aim (both on social media and potentially legally as well) at shared space brewing partner Beer Thug Brewing. As of now, Border X is closed for business while Beer Thug continues to use the space at 4400 Gage Avenue. Words are being passed back and forth, and the whole thing might just end up in court.

Newness in Culver City

Hey, Sunshine Kitchen is now open in Culver City. The entirely plant-based restaurant at 3863 Overland Avenue had a big opening weekend, drawing long lines of customers ready to score faux chicken Caesar salads, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and more.