Spirited Culinary Adventures with Natalie Bovis

Living Large at La Vida, Hollywood

Hollywood has a new hotspot and you can be among the first to experience it. La Vida opened its doors only 3 weeks ago, but it won’t take long for this atmospheric lounge / restaurant’s reservations line to be added to speed dials all over town. Located inside a big blue building on the corner of Sunset and Gower in Hollywood, La Vida seems nondescript from the outside. You could almost drive past it if you’re not paying attention.

Once inside, however, guests are transported to a destination spot where a sip at the cozy cocktail bar, a meal in the charming dining room, revelry with your peeps on the open-air terrace or dancing (after meal service) can all happen under the same roof.

La Vida tapped local mixologist, and Bacardi Brand Ambassador, Pablo Moix to help design their cocktail program. (Both Pablo and GM Brian Norris worked together priorly at the One Group’s STK so theirs was an easy partnership.)

The Naranja (grey goose l’orange, St. Germain, fresh oj, clover honey & ginger beer) is a refreshing tall drink – ideal for warm Spring evenings on the patio. The Serrano Apple (Admiral Nelson’s spiced rum, Serrano chili, apple cider, lemon and ginger beer) is a must-try. And, definitely give their house sangria a whirl. It is available by the glass ($8) or Pitcher.

Want to drink for a cause? Order the TREEtini, a specialty cocktail featuring Veev Acai Spirit. With every purchse of a TREEtini, a tree is planted, and La Vida is the only place in Hollywood participating in this eco-friendly program. Get more details on that on this website and on Veev Acai Spirit’s website.

The proximity to movie studios makes La Vida popular for power lunching (try the $15 box lunch special which include a soup, 2 salads, entrée and dessert). During Happy Hour the $12 cocktails are half price and the large selection of tapas (tuna ceviche; garlic shrimp; coconut curried mussels; lamb meatballs with sofrito salsa; heirloom tomato with burrata cheese; and more) are only $5!

A romantic rendez vous or evening meal with pals is set to eclectic, upbeat music in a softly lit dining room, where industry insiders and as-yet-undiscovered-movie-stars, dine side by side. I highly recommend trying at least one Mini Grill for the table. (Both the Sonoma lamb sausage and black bean brushed quail are to die for!) Vegetarians can opt for the asparagus with crushed roasted peanuts.

A not-to-be missed dinner entrée is the Anichiote rubbed kurabuta pig steak topped with sweet potato medallions and brandied golden raisins. (This pairs wonderfully with the Cazador de Tequila cocktail (Cazadores tequila blanco, Chambord, agave nectar & fresh lime), btw…

Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, Paella is on the menu but traditionalists should note that it is not cooked nor served in a traditional paella pan. Also, the clam, chorizo and cilantro paella does not contain saffron. While tasty, I’d be inclined to guide you toward the hearty Tandoori spiced lamb chops or succulent Tagine of Roasted Chicken Breast. The creamed saffron corn compote was my side of choice. For dessert try the unique PB&J (pictured here) or the delectable caramel pannacotta.

After 11 pm, the tables are cleared and the DJ starts up. (What better way to work off a few calories?) There is also a back bar with a second dance floor as well as private rooms – ideal for a birthday party, bachelorette party or work event.

Whether you come day, happy hour or later evening, the spacious patio, cozy dining room, intimate bar and groovin’ dance floors are will have you raising a glass to celebrating La Vida!

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