Photos by Ben Brown

The Dudes’ Goes Big in Santa Clarita 

The Dudes’ Brewing Company has become a SoCal staple, taking its outlandishly creative and meticulously crafted beers from as far south as Orange County to as far north as—well, now—Santa Clarita. The Dudes’ newest location has already added a touch of the beach life to Valencia’s Westfield Town Center, not to mention dozens of the craziest beers you’ll come across. 

The Dudes’ Santa Clarita serves up all the beers made famous by the original Torrance location, changing out seasonal selections in stride with tasting rooms across Southern California. The sour patch series is certainly trending, with a watermelon sour that will turn your tongue…in a good way. The sandbox series features the ‘genie in a bottle,’ a nearly 25-proof red ale with a dangerous smoothness. 

The much-loved juicebox series boasts impeccable flavors such as blood orange amber ale, peach Berliner weisse and coconut amber ale. Add in the longtime favorite grandma’s pecan English brown, the cleverly-named ‘Dudes-Quik’ chocolate milk stout and the shamrock shake—a mint-flavored bright green cream ale. The list goes on, and The Dudes’ pick-4 beer flights help ease the pressure in selecting your favorites.

And who knew The Dudes’ could cook? The Dudes’ Santa Clarita is the first location to serve food, with a specialty pizza lineup that emphasizes bold, flavorful toppings and quality ingredients. The sausage mushroom white has quickly soared to the top, made with rich Italian sausage, seasonal mushrooms and ricotta. The veggie pizza, finished with gorgonzola and balsamic, is enough to break a gluten-free diet…but let’s be serious, The Dudes’ itself is the perfect place to get back on the gluten train. Don’t miss out on those garlic knots either.

The tasting room itself is laid out remarkably well, with Jenga and other tabletop bar games scattered across large communal tables and a massive projector broadcasting sports for everyone to see. Groups gather to play Wii in the back while the taps take center stage, flowing at a constant rate to serve a constantly revolving crowd. The Dudes’ spices things up with Trivia Thursdays, upcoming acoustic Sundays and highly anticipated beer and yoga sessions…now those should be interesting!

Beer lovers, get excited. The Dudes’ is continuing to expand, with a Santa Monica location expected soon. For more information, visit TheDudesBrew.com.

XOC Tequila Grill Takes Sunday Brunch South
of the Border

As you walk through the XOC Tequila Grill patio, mist cascading gently from above, freshly made tacos in hand and your fourth margarita of the day within sight, you leave L.A. for a moment. You’re at a beachside cantina off the coast of Cabo, energetic conversations around you blending together to form an orchestra of white noise that keeps up the energy without becoming overwhelming. This mist continues to refresh, the tacos keep coming, and of course so do the margaritas…this isn’t just brunch, this is an escape.

Made-to-order south of the border specialties are a game-changer at XOC Tequila Grill. Dedicated service staff pump out chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, four types of street tacos and much more from an outdoor stand that playfully emulates the taco carts roaming around L.A. They certainly don’t skimp on the meat, piling on rich al pastor, carnitas, carne asada and chicken on command. 

In true brunch fashion, XOC Tequila Grill’s made-to-order repertoire boasts omelets with all the American classics…but let’s be serious, you want that al pastor in an omelet too. Add waffles and pancakes to the list, piled with fresh berries, chocolate chips and oh-so-good caramel sauce. You’ll also find your bacon, sausage, potatoes and other fixings, plus of course the necessary rice and beans, red and green chicken enchiladas, assorted fruit and even seared tuna. 

Bottomless champagne, mimosas and of course margaritas are a huge sell, bringing in hoards of Angelinos and making for very entertaining conversation as late morning drifts into early afternoon…for all you know, some of them could still be rallying from the night before. In any case, the mood remains excellently balanced between fun and relaxed, with attentive service staff making sure your glass never empties. For more information, visit XOCTequilaGrill.com.

Persia Lounge Adds Spice of Middle East to Newhall

Newhall may be widely known as Hollywood’s Wild West, but Persia Lounge has had no trouble mixing things up with flare from the Middle East. Fall-off-the bone meats, rich hummus, saffron rice and seemingly endless lavash meld with belly dancing, hookah and live music for a holistic cultural experience. As little ol’ Downtown Newhall continues to expand and attract more attention from ‘Mainland L.A.,’ it’s places like Persia Lounge that are bringing the area an elevated allure, not to mention great taste.

Persia Lounge’s humble setup speaks to its authenticity. An inviting, minimalist dining room wraps around the restaurant’s small enclosed kitchen and leads to the lounge in the back, where hookah, music and dancing proceed to run the show. Wall décor pays homage to ancient Middle Eastern décor, and even has some exposed brick painted on. But it’s the food you’re after, and it comes in heaps at Persia Lounge.

Nobody is going to leave here hungry. The inquiry is confirmed as the appetizer combo arrives with enough lavash bread to carb-load for a marathon. Creamy hummus and masto khiar [yogurt cucumber dip], shirazi salad with diced cucumber and tomato, and light Persian potato set the tone for a menu with just enough familiar territory for everyone to enjoy, and an abundance of potential for adventurous palates to seek
new discovery. 

Meat is clearly a treasured entity at Persia Lounge, with every dish rich in bold flavor and distinct identity. Take the baghale polo with lamb shank, which you could tear apart with your fingers if you wanted, served in an herbaceous tomato broth that magnifies the flavor profile further. Or the zereshk polo with chicken, a spectacular chicken kabob that seems like it’s been marinating for ages, with saffron rice and the fascinating addition of sour barberry. Then there’s your classic shish kabob, with juicy chunks of char-grilled beef. 

If you’re looking for true Halal, this is one of the only shows in town. You’ll also be able to find beers and wines from Lebanon and Armenia, in addition to the labels we all know and love. For more information, visit Persia-Lounge.com.

CHAYA Reinvents Itself to Continue 400 Year History

Chaya Venice has proudly become CHAYA Modern Izakaya. What began as a humble teahouse in the 17th century has grown into a dining empire, expanding into the US nearly 40 years ago, and is continuing to evolve with its new identity, complete with a fresh look and reinvigorated menu. 

Similar to a Western gastropub, a Japanese izakaya is traditionally a drinking establishment which serves small tapas-style plates for sharing. CHAYA Modern Izakaya further bridges the gap between Japanese and American dining with Japanese-Californian cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits, Japanese Whisky, eclectic sake and wine and Japanese and local craft beers.

The chef team—Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino, Executive Chef Joji Inoue and Kaiseki Chef Katsuyuki Wako—have a deep background with CHAYA, Japanese flavor and innovative culinary prowess. The trifecta properly bridges Eastern philosophy with Western techniques, utilizing local seasonal ingredients, with sky-high quality standards for seafood, poultry
and meats. 

CHAYA’s menu features exotic delights across a broad range of categories, from the chrysanthemum salad to grilled octopus and wagyu chazuke. Sushi is unquestionably essential at CHAYA, with rolls and hand rolls that take you across the Pacific. Guests can also experience daily omakase menus at the Kaiseki chef counter, which replaces the old Chaya’s raw bar as a focal point for chefs to showcase their talent. 

An eclectic bar adds to CHAYA’s modern appeal, enhancing the restaurant’s social element by allowing guests to congregate over an extensive sake collection, as well as a strong lineup of Japanese whiskies and Western favorites that make for excellent hand-made cocktails. For more information, visit TheCHAYA.com

Crossings Pasadena Debuts New Seasonal Menu

Crossings, known for hyperlocal American fare, has unveiled a new menu that hones in on spring and summer. Newly hired Executive Chef Kevin Malone has hit the ground running, bringing dramatic attention to detail and a special eye for exotic ingredients built up from his time at Mattei’s Tavern [Los Olivos] and Gargantua, an enchanting Santa Monica pop-up. 

Both quaint and dynamic, Crossings allows guests to savor modern flavor in a century-old setting, with brick-and-mortar walls that date back to the building’s construction in 1913. In addition to an intimate dining room, cozy bar and outdoor patio is the beautiful wine cellar, with a broad list that includes Angeleno Wine Company, L.A.’s first winery in more than 100 years.

Chef Malone’s range covers flavors from across the globe, with a special focus on locally-sourced ingredients. His heirloom tomato salad sources produce from the nearby farmers market, with creamy burrata, basil and pickled mustard seed. The spot prawn is drawn from the Santa Barbara coast, with Latin-inspired elote corn and
queso fresco. 

The menu continues its traverse with the Alaksan halibut, utilizing sous vide preparation to retain ridiculous moisture. The al pastor employs sous vide as well—cooking 36 hours undoubtedly releases excellent results, complemented further with amazing roti bread. BTW did you know al pastor is actually Lebanese?

Dessert gets the same seasonal treatment, highlighted by a homemade strawberry rhubarb pie with a buttery crust that’ll knock your socks off. Chef Malone adds fun plays with a white chocolate pot de crème and an upscale elephant’s ears. For more information, visit Crossings-Restaurant.com.

Preux and Proper Introduces Proper Dining Hall

Preux & Proper, known for Louisiana-inspired Southern fare in DTLA, has recently debuted Proper Dining Hall, a festive and intimate space upstairs from the main dining room. Dynamic in both the food it serves and the events it hosts, Proper Dining Hall looks to create a modern vibe around a classic bayou feel. 

Thursday evenings feature ‘live jazz & oysters,’ with a weekly offering of three varieties of fresh-shucked raw oysters alongside jazz musician Ryan Cross & Friends. Friday and Saturday evenings are dedicated to distinct creations from Executive Chef Sammy Monsour. Specialties include marinated cauliflower romanesco salad, dungeness crab hushpuppies, spectacular seafood gumbo and ridiculously good fried chicken and biscuits. And of course you can count on beignets that take you straight to The Big Easy, finished with powdered sugar and an addictive bananas foster dulce de leche. 

Proper Dining Hall’s lounge-style setup goes hand in hand with craft cocktails. Beverage Director Kassady Wiggins has developed an intriguing list that integrates beet syrup, frozen watermelon balls and lavender bitters among other fun additives. For more information, visit PruexandProper.com.