PERUVIAN CANTINA POP-UP
The term “pop-up” is definitely a buzz word in the hospitality industry when it comes to restaurants and bars. People love something that is hard to come by or only available for a short period of time. In the case of Chef Ricardo Zarate’s latest venture, Colibrí, foodies will only have a year to experience the Peruvian cantina pop-up before the Vine Street building is demolished.
Of the new dining destination, Zarate says, “Colibrí is dedicated to creating an outstanding and creative Peruvian cantina experience. We create flavor-sophisticated food and delicious cocktails in a relaxed, ambient atmosphere.”
Colibrí’s yearlong residency will be at the former Los Balcones space in Hollywood.
Fans of Chef Ricardo Zarate, will fondly remember dining at Picca, Mo-Chica, Paiche, Rosaliné, Pikoh, and Beverly Grove’s Short Stories Hotel. At Short Stories, he blended Latin and California flavors. And most recently at Causita in Silver Lake he blended Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. Colibri is Chef’s take on the traditional dishes he was raised on in Peru.
Colibrí means hummingbird and it was also Zarate’s nickname growing up.
“This is going back to my roots,” Chef told the L.A. Times recently. “Colibrí is my interpretation of traditional Peruvian cuisine, something that I really love to cook, something that I really love to eat.”
Menu highlights include Peruvian staples such as lomo saltado, arroz con pollo, and civiche mixto. During our recent visit for dinner and drinks, we started with the classic Pisco Sour—Peru’s most famous cocktail. Consider this a must-have.
From the Starters section of the menu, the Ceviche Mixto—a seafood medley of crispy calamari, sea bass, shrimp, leche de tigre, sweet potato, choclo, and fried corn—is a lovely way to start your meal. Likewise, the Cesar’s Verde with market lettuce, parmesan, and popped quinoa is a very nice take on a classic Caesar Salad. And if you’re as big a fan of sea bass as I am, definitely get the Tiradito with sea bass, coconut, dragon fruit, olive oil and spicy limo pepper salt. These offerings will pair well with a Pisco Sour or a glass of white wine.
From the Mains section, the Lomo Saltado (filet with tomato, red onion, white rice served with French fries) and the Arroz con Pollo (pan fried chicken, green rice, salsa criollo, huancaina (Peruvian hot sauce), and cherry tomatoes) are tried and true favorite Peruvian dishes. These will not disappoint.
If you’re looking for something a little different but still with a Peruvian flare, you do have plenty to choose from. The Arroz con Mariscos with shrimp, crispy calamari, squid ink, and smoked rocoto aioli is very nice.
Pasta fans can choose either the Tallarines Rojos—handmade tagliatelle pasta, tomato ragu, crispy chicken thigh, and huancaina—or the Tallarines Verdes—handmade tagliatelle pasta, Peruvian pesto, sautéed king mushrooms, and parmesan. Either is will definitely delight.
If you find yourself with a hearty appetite, the Beer Braised Short Rib with quinoa grits, huacatay, and smoked rocoto aioli will hit the spot. This one is a mighty meat-eater’s dish sure to satisfy.
While I was a big fan of everything we shared family style, my favorites were the seafood and pasta options. They were sensationally tasty and solid comfort food.
If you save room for dessert, the Fried Churro Balls with caramel and berry sauce, or the Paletas ice cream pops (strawberry, coconut, and mango) will satisfy your sweet tooth. But if you’re like me and prefer liquid dessert, the Chicha Sour (think Pisco Sour with Peruvian purple corn) is a decadently delicious option. Other good cocktail desserts include the Maracuya Caipirinha (muddled lime, mint, passion fruit, sugar, and Cachaca), as well as the Espresso Martini (vodka, Borghetti (espresso liqueur), espresso, and lemon essence).
Take advantage of the time you have to dine and drink at Colibrí in 2023. Get to know Pisco and dive deep into cocktail options. Or you can enjoy the Old Fashioned and Sloe Gin Tonic options but I say get to love Pisco Sours and work your way through the delicious menu time and time again. Definitely get it while the spot is hot before it literally blows up.
Colibrí is located at 1360 Vine Street. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 11:30pm. Call 323-561-0332.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of: Colibrí