Broken Spanish - Chef Ray Garcia's Elevated Mexican Cuisine with Farmers Market Produce [Thoughts + Pics]

A report back after hearing from @Dommy and others about Broken Spanish. This is Chef Ray Garcia’s new restaurant (formerly FIG (Santa Monica)'s Executive Chef).

We started with Rebanada (Pan Dulce, Foie Gras Butter, Piloncillo):

It tasted like a sweet, freshly made King’s Hawaiian Bread topped with a subtle foie gras butter! It was tasty, but probably not worth $13.

Requeson (Mission Figs, Black Sesame, Agave, Sea Bean):

One of the highlights of the evening. Fresh, house-made Ricotta-style cheese, really light 'n fluffy and those mission figs were pretty legit! :smile: So tasty!

Heirloom Corn Tortillas with Refried Lentils:

The handmade tortillas were on the thicker side, but oh so fluffy! Their refried lentils seemed like a healthier, spicier twist to the usual refried beans. Most of the table really loved it!

Quesadilla (Oxtail, Plantain, Habanero, Salsa Quemada):

Fantastic! :raising_hand: Really beefy and tender.

Green Beans (Poached Egg, Sofrito, Salsa Chapuline, Cotija):

Their green beans were pretty special as well. We enjoyed the poached egg breaking apart, and getting egg yolk and green beans together with that salsa chapuline. :slight_smile:

Pollo Prensado (Chicken Thigh, Chicken Skin, Cock’s Comb, Guajillo):

Delicious stewed chicken parts with a slightly tart, savory sauce. Really liked the guajillo chile flavor (not very spicy, but really good flavor wise).

Pipian (Turkey Leg, Corn, Okra):

I haven’t had much turkey in Mexican restaurants before, but i was really happy with this dish. Really tender, soft, juicy dark meat turkey, and it was a mammoth leg! The pipian (pumpkin seed) sauce was so good! :heart:

Lamb Neck Tamales (King Oyster Mushrooms, Queso Oaxaca):

Another highlight and star of our evening! Delectable tender lamb meat, really nicely cooked and lightly spiced, which really matched the tender king oyster mushrooms and the queso oaxaca.

Overall a pretty nice dinner. I think many of us wish Rivera never shut down (same space), but Broken Spanish feels like a solid newcomer to take its place.

This was our second visit, and all the vegetables were different than our first visit, which reminded me of how much Chef Ray Garcia liked to show off what was in season at the farmer’s market back at Fig (their menu had that “fresh vegetable in season” section). It felt the same way here, with seasonal fruits and veggies not on the menu the first time, incorporated into the dishes, reflecting the changing seasons.

We missed out on the Abuelita dessert that Dommy! recommended (and we loved) the last visit.

Broken Spanish
1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Telefono: 213-749-1460

Update:

It had been a while since our last visit to Broken Spanish, Chef Ray Garcia’s modern take on Mexican cuisine through the lens of fresh California produce.

Ever since the showing on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, it seems Broken Spanish has seen an uptick in business (it was 90 - 100% full on these last two visits).

Lamb Neck Tamales (King Oyster Mushroom, Queso Oaxaca):

A favorite of ours during the first visit, these were as wonderful as I remembered. :slight_smile: Moist, tender slivers of Slow-Roasted Lamb, a bit of the soft King Oyster Mushrooms and the slight funk of Queso Oaxaca.

Beet Pibil (Yellow Beet, Achiote, Pickled Onion, Bitter Greens):

Besides looking beautiful, biting into these small Roasted Beets reminded me of what I loved about Chef Garcia at FIG (Santa Monica). Thoughtful incorporation of seasonal, fresh farmers market produce makes a difference. These Beets were earthy and yet they were elevated to another level in this Pibil preparation. The Achiote Sauce was fantastic, lively, dynamic, spicy. Thanks @A5KOBE @DTLAeater. :slight_smile:

Rabbit Albondigas:

Served during Happy Hour, the Rabbit Albondigas were stunning! :open_mouth: Super tender, moist Rabbit (which is usually on the dry, lean side), Chef Ray Garcia’s skills were evident here. Be warned the immediate heat was real, perhaps a Howlin’ Ray’s Level 3.5 type of heat. But so delicious with some of their Handmade Tortillas! :slight_smile:

Carnitas (Lamb Shoulder, Carrot Escabeche, Spring Onion Mermelada):

Their Carnitas were made with Lamb Shoulder - a nice touch and change from the usual Pork preparation - and the result is a slightly gamy, moist, break apart dish of slow-cooked Lamb. I understand the inclusion of Carrot Escabeche and Spring Onion Mermelada, as it provides a tart component to break up some of the fattiness, but the pickling was a bit too heavy and it overpowered the Lamb unless you took a half bite of the Carrot or Onion.

Otherwise, adding some of the Lamb Carnitas with some of the Heirloom Corn Tortillas…

… resulted in fantastic Lamb Tacos! :blush: The hefty, yet wonderfully pliant, supple Handmade Organic Tortillas really make these dishes so much more enjoyable. I can see why @Dommy and others love them so much. So good! :slight_smile:

Escarole (Coconut, Turnips, Amaranto, Agave):

This was an interesting mix of flavors, the bitter Escarole with a bit of fragrant Coconut, peppery Turnip slivers were countered by a bit of tartness.

Quesadilla (Oxtail, Plantain, Habanero, Salsa Quemada):

Using the same thicker, pliant Handmade Heirloom Tortillas, Chef Garcia stuffs it with some slow-cooked Oxtail - really tender and delicious! - and covered with melting Cheese. :slight_smile:

4th visit:

Ensalada (Broccoli Sprouts, Peas, Persian Cucumber, Habas, Meyer Lemon Dressing):

Now this is what I really remember Chef Garcia for at FIG: Just absolutely beautiful farmers market-driven fresh veggies! Usually in a normal “Salad” the base green might be the star / main component, but here the Lettuces were taking a back seat to the Spring-like Broccoli Sprouts, the absolutely wonderful fresh English Peas (inherently sweet, nice body), and the Habas. The Persian Cucumbers were refreshing as well. The only minor quibble is that they overdressed the Salad, a bit too much of the Meyer Lemon Dressing, but otherwise, quite nice. :slight_smile:

Hecho en L.A. (Amaro Angeleno, Tequila Blanco, Mint, Honey, Lime, Seltzer):

It still feels a bit sad to pass by the bar where Rivera used to house Bar Director Julian Cox and his team of up-and-coming bartenders; their Cocktails were still some of the best that L.A. had to offer.

The Hecho en L.A. was refreshing! In this heat wave, the Amaro, Tequila Blanco, cooling Mint and fizziness went well with the Honey & bright Lime. :slight_smile:

Stuffed Squid (Green Chorizo, Heirloom Brown Rice, Fava Leaves, Ravigote):

Wow! Imagine just cooked through Squid, genuinely tender (not rubbery), providing this supple brininess giving way to the Green Chorizo, a real porky meatiness with a touch of heat, all somehow combining perfectly with the Sauce Ravigote. Slightly herbal, vegetal but the whole thing just worked.

Some of the most refined cooking from Chef Garcia that I’ve ever tried. It was our friend’s favorite of the evening and I’d have to say it was a tie for me as well! :heart:

Duck (Grape, Peanut, Mole, Chile Tepin):

I love Duck in general, and it looks like Chef Garcia has rotated out the Roasted Lamb Head for this dish. As we ordered it, our server cheerfully said this was Phil Rosenthal’s (host and star of “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having”) favorite dish, and he orders it every time he stops by.

Regardless, I couldn’t wait to see what Chef Garcia would do with Duck. You get Half of a Roasted Duck (which is nice), and while there are parts where the skin was slightly crisped, it’s covered in a Housemade Mole Sauce that works: It’s not overpowering like some heavier Mole Sauces.

You get supple, tender Roasted Duck meat, matched with a nuttiness from the Peanuts and White Sesame Seeds and the slight sweet, nutty, savoriness of Chef Garcia’s Mole Sauce. Fantastic! :blush:

@CiaoBob @PorkyBelly and other fans of Roast Duck, this might be worth a try. :slight_smile:

Heirloom Corn Tortillas:

Don’t forget to order some Handmade Organic Heirloom Corn Tortillas for the Duck (and the next dish)! Duck Tacos = :heart:

Rabbit (Nopales, Bacon, Cherry Tomato):

And then we get the Rabbit main course. This preparation reminded me of a Mixiote you get when enjoying Barbacoa de Borrego - that awesome Roasted Lamb in Maguey Leaves. Like the Mixiote we got at a few Barbacoa restaurants, this arrives in a small package, but instead of wrapped in leaves and opened up, it was sealed in a more showy transparent wrapper.

But back to the Rabbit: It’s this slow-cooked, almost Rabbit Stew-like concoction. Extremely tender, juicy morsels of Rabbit, with a 4 Chili Sauce (not overly spicy) driven by Chipotle Chilies at the forefront that was so addictive and crave-worthy! :blush: The Nopales were fantastic having been slow-cooked with the Rabbit as well. My favorite of the evening! :heart:

Flan (Goat’s Milk Flan, Whipped Honey, Azelia-Avocado Ganache, Wine Poached Pear):

I love Flan usually, and this Flan was really silky and supple, but the Goat’s Milk really dominated. It made for an interesting Dessert, but might’ve been slightly too pungent when eating it as Flan (and I love Goat’s Milk Cheeses). Not bad at all, but perhaps I was just expecting a more classic, subtle Flan.

Service has been just fine over the last 3rd and 4th visits. No issues to speak of, with a casual L.A. type of service.

Broken Spanish seems to have really elevated its game since our previous visit over a year ago. Chef Ray Garcia’s Modern Mexican dishes continue to be enjoyable and surprise us at times as well. Dishes like their Stuffed Squid with Green Chorizo, their fresh farmers market-driven produce in their Salads, and that Roasted Duck and Slow-Cooked Rabbit make us anxious to return to Broken Spanish soon, to see what Chef Garcia has planned next.

Broken Spanish
1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (213) 749-1460

Update 3:

Catching up on some meals from before our lockdown. Since Broken Spanish is doing Takeout with some of these dishes, figured it might be helpful for some thoughts and pics. :slight_smile:

Queso Fundido (Bacalao, Quesillo, Roasted Tomato):

Chef-Owner Ray Garcia and his team have created a nice version of Queso Fundido, using Bacalao (Salted Dried Cod) along with the usual piping hot, oozy melting Cheese. The result is fantastic, especially when we paired some of it with an order of their Organic Heirloom Corn Tortillas: :slight_smile:

These Handmade Heirloom Corn Tortillas are some of the best in the city! Thickish, soft, pliable, with great, deep Corn flavor (compared to the usual mass-produced versions). :slight_smile:

Frijoles (Heirloom Pinquito Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Guajillo):

Flavorful, toothsome, earthy, the Heirloom Pinquito Beans have more body and structure than many of the usual Pinto or Black Bean preparations locally. This also went well with a bit of the Handmade Heirloom Corn Tortillas (especially dipped in that Guajillo Sauce).

Borrego (Lamb Shoulder, Carrot Puree, Chimichurri, Feat Cheese):

Slow Roasted Lamb that was fork tender, it was meaty and delectable. This Borrego had a stronger infusion of flavor than the usual Barbacoa de Borrego dishes, and the Carrot Puree was a nice complement to each bite, the sweetness balancing out the strong savory gaminess.

Chicharron (Garlic Mojo, Radish Sprout, Picked Herbs):

As incredible as the first time we ordered it! It had been way too long, and reports from @PorkyBelly @robert and others reminded us that it was time to try it again. :slight_smile:

The outer skin is still as crispy as before, and it gives way to a luscious, decadent interior of fatty and lean Pork. It is outstanding! :heart:

Grilled Nopales Salad:

Their Grilled Nopales (Cactus) Salad was a nice foil for the lush Chicharron, slightly piquant, tender morsels of Nopales with a punch of Queso Fresco.

Another Visit:

Chile Relleno (Poblano, Potato, Kale, Lemon, Soubise):

This is definitely a more refined / alta cocina version of a “Chile Relleno,” with the Poblano deep fried and then stuffed with a smooth Potato puree(!), with a hit of citrus Lemon flavors, and sauteed Kale. The whole thing is covered in an ultra silky Soubise Sauce. This is one case where, as refined as it was (and we appreciated how much lighter and not greasy it was), we were craving a more comfort food version. :smile:

Heirloom Corn Tortillas + Whipped Carnitas Fat:

We have never ordered the version of their amazing Tortillas with Whipped Carnitas Fat, but figured we should try it at least once. The consistency is definitely that of Butter, but when you take a bite, there’s a heavy fat taste that covers your mouth. :sweat_smile: It’s not bad at all, but not as amazing as we were hoping it would be (like having liquid Bacon Fat or something). :wink: I think we’ll stick with the Refried Lentils version or just the Heirloom Corn Tortillas by themselves.

Cabbage (Cueritos, Cilantro):

Tart, crunchy, fresh Cabbage, and the bits of Cueritos (Pork Skin) helped break things up, but it would’ve been nice to have more of the Cueritos.

Barbacoa (Short Rib, Domingo Rojo Beans, Bacon, Chipotle):

The Barbacoa Beef Short Rib was very tender, so soft you could cut it with a spoon. :slight_smile: There was a light beefiness, a good infusion of complex flavor that reminded us of a cross between classic French cooking and some herbal notes from Mexican cuisine. The Domingo Rojo Beans were soft enough, but had a nice bite. :slight_smile:

Hongos (Field Mushrooms, Nopales, Salsa Verde, Cotija, Puffed Wild Rice):

Tender Mushroom morsels, the Nopales and Mushrooms and Salsa Verde combination worked, but we were hoping for a bit more fragrant punch from the Mushrooms. Still, it was pretty tasty.

Chef Ray Garcia and his team continue to deliver some elevated Mexican cuisine in a casual setting. Their Albondigas (Meatballs, made of different meats depending on the season (Duck, Rabbit, etc.) have been tasty. Their Handmade Heirloom Corn Tortillas continue to be some of the best in the city, their Lamb Neck Tamales have continued to be great, and for main courses, don’t miss out on their Chicharron (w/ Garlic Mojo).

Broken Spanish
1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (213) 749-1460

8 Likes

Thanks for the report! Those tortillas particularly look fantastic - they look like they have some nice chew to them. Were the tortillas in the quesadilla dish the same as the ones being served with refried lentils? Sort of hard to tell due to lighting, understandably not your fault.

and fantastic tres leches. i mean, it ain’t your abuelitas tres leches, but your abuelita probably didn’t charge you $12 for a slice of tres leches.

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The Tortillas are MUCH better than the ones at Rivera, which were just for show.

Glad you got back!! I need to stop by again myself. It’s not quite Rivera in the terms of polish, but still an excellent place for a memorable meal. Very happy to read the positive notices. :smiley:

–Dommy!

Thanks for the report! Those tortillas particularly look fantastic - they look like they have some nice chew to them. Were the tortillas in the quesadilla dish the same as the ones being served with refried lentils?

Thanks noddles! Now that you mention it, I’m not sure, LOL. They tasted pretty similar, but I think they were a touch thinner (being rolled up). Because the side order of handmade tortillas that we had seemed thick enough that they wouldn’t roll as tightly as the one in the oxtail quesadilla.

Thanks Tony! I’ll have to try the tres leches next time. :smile:

And thanks Dommy! It was due to your report that made me check it out in the first place. LOL :wink:

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I’ll have to get myself over there before Mr. Gold’s review comes out then!

And who do we have to thank for those tortillas? Carlos Salgado out in Costa Mesa. #ocrepresent

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This review is so much more appealing than Jonathan Gold’s in the LAT today. There was not one dish which looked good. In fact, some of what he described looked gross. Glad you posted this. Looks so much better than what Gold described.

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Gold’s review may turn some people off. It did me.

Thanks @maudies5, you’re too kind.

Let me know what you think of it; I need to go back soon.

Congrats to Ray Garcia.

Chef of the Year (per Esquire)

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I read his review as mostly positive with some stellar dishes as well as a couple misses. I think what may turn many people off are the references to ground up grasshoppers and bisected lamb heads, but as shown by chowseeker1999 and the rest of JG’s review, there’s a lot more to the menu than offal.

So true.
His review was just awful at capturing what the place is really about. Almost as if he was trying to shock readers. Weird.

I read it aloud to my husband and he was also disgusted. It had the effect of confirming that is one restaurant we definitely will take a pass on. Just the thought of a bisected lambs head sitting on a plate at the next table makes me ill. All things considered, I would prefer the unexciting Factory Kitchen.

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JG does seem to have a propensity towards offal. Remember his top dishes of 2014 and the alternative edition?

http://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-gold-best-dishes-20150103-story.html

He received a bit of backlash for the first and released an alternative list as a result. Although I personally enjoyed the first and didn’t think another was necessary, I understand a large portion of his audience don’t find offal all that appealing, so I find his verbiage for this review curious considering events earlier in the year. I’ll probably find myself at Broken Spanish eventually and hope to see you @maudies5 there too as some of those dishes sound really delicious, bisected lamb heads notwithstanding. :smile:

I think JG senses his ever increasing irrelevancy, and is doing things he would not normally do to make himself relevant, if not at least marginally interesting.

why, look at all the comments about one article by the irrelevant guy. woo woo.

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What do you think his increasing irrelevancy is due to? I don’t disagree with you, I’m just curious.