Lucques restaurant has already been gone for a few years, but its many Hollywood devotees can now experience the rustic flavors and well-selected wines of Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne in two distinct ways at downtown L.A.’s stylish new Proper Hotel, whose interiors were designed by Kelly Wearstler.
On the rooftop is Cara Cara: The casual lounge’s menu of salads, tacos and burgers is perfect for sipping a passion fruit caipirinha while looking out at the city lights.
Off the lobby, the Portuguese-influenced Caldo Verde — named for the saffron-scented stew of rock crabs, kale and tomato — is the hotel’s centerpiece restaurant.
But Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its Portuguese food, so why now? Goin says, “The inspiration was two-fold actually. I have always loved Portuguese food — since a trip there in my teens to the five years working in Providence, Rhode Island where there is a very strong and vibrant Portuguese community. Beyond the delicious food, I fell in love with the humble, raucous, festive Portuguese version of joie de vivre — they really like to relax, usually around the table, and enjoy food, wine, long conversations and a good laugh.”
Constructed in the 1920s, the building had a vaguely Moorish feeling that Goin decided worked with the Caldo Verde concept — which was first hatched seven years ago. “I was struck and in love with the old world vibe, the beautiful arches, glass and moldings — I felt transported to another time and place, she remembers.
The restaurant isn’t purely Portuguese, but Goin says, “I have loved exploring the cuisine for inspiration and took a trip with Caroline and our chef Javier Espinoza back in 2019 — where my love for the food and culture grew by leaps and bounds.” The Lucques spirit and vibe will continue, she says, with the same chef and sous chef, although they don’t plan to put any familiar dishes from the Melrose Avenue restaurant on the menu.
Diners will want to try the namesake caldo verde — “We serve it family style in a beautiful black glazed pot with a gold ladle for guests to share at the table,” Goin says, “It embodies what the restaurant is all about.” She’s also excited about the fried sunchokes with sherry aioli, prawns with arbol chile butter, and farro and kale salad with scallion kimchee.
Styne has designed the wine list to focus on Portugal and “a sprinkling of wines from California,” focusing on producers making “stunning, layered and mineral-rich wines that not only work so well with Suzanne’s cooking but also speak to the cuisine and culture of these regions,” Styne says. For an “uncomplicated, but incredibly delicious” cocktail, Styne recommends the Proper Welcome, made with Churchill’s Dry White Port, East Imperial Old World Tonic and fresh citrus wheels. 1100 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
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Nate ’n Al’s Ready to Relaunch
Nate ’n Al’s is prepping for a spring relaunch after some recent uncertainty over its future. New owners Irving and Shelli Azoff have partnered with nightlife operator The h.wood Group, which will run the day-to-day operations of the venerable delicatessen. Indoor dining is expected to reopen soon, and there also are plans to expand — while keeping familiar favorites like corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. “We both grew up eating at Nate ’n Al’s. This iconic restaurant is close to our hearts, and some of our fondest memories are getting brisket dips or lox and bagels,” say h.wood’s John Terzian and Brian Toll. 414 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills