SPARE TIRE KITCHEN & TAVERN
MIRACLE MILE KITCHEN RIDES INTO THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Sometimes you walk into a new restaurant with specific expectations in mind and other times you just don’t know what to expect. Checking out the new Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern in Miracle Mile on Wilshire Boulevard I didn’t know what I’d find. Gastropub fare? A quality local bar? I was looking forward to solid cocktails and the rest would be a complete surprise, although I should have expected quality fare from Chef Isaias Peña after his stint at La Sandia.
OK, so the “handcrafted cocktails” were a bust, unless you like gin. These guys can make some really good gin drinks. And their Rob Roy is pretty stiff too—just not so flavorful. I suggest you don’t get fancy and stick to ordering simple drinks or opt for beer and wine.
I should say that I’m a local in the area and I’m always happy when I can walk to a spot for good food and drinks (bummer about the cocktails here). And, thanks to Executive Chef Isaias Peña, I now have a new favorite dish that I’m completely obsessed with. His East LA Corn with chipotle aioli, parmesan, ancho chile and lime is amazing! If they would blacken the corn somewhat, this would be out of this world. The flavors are so rich and intense. This is reason enough to head to Spare Tire. My mind was blown.
A close second fave is the Roasted Beet Salad with hazelnut goat cheese, orange reduction, greens and orange segments. I have to say that I love gold beets and while this is a rich dish, I like to think of it has somewhat of a healthy yet tasty choice.
Chef is proud of his Cheese & Charcuterie, which includes duck and cherry pâté and Calabrese salami. I’m never really overwhelmed by cheese and charcuterie. It’s great at a party to nibble on but I can never seem to justify paying for it, not since a friend of mine told me that we could have easily eaten a half gallon of ice cream for the same calorie content (his wife did tell him to shut up).
If you don’t care about calories, then get one of Chef’s spiked milkshakes. They’re pretty ridiculous. The shake with caramel ice cream and Chivas Regal is my favorite. And the Kickass Sassafras with Spare Tire’s Root Beer float and a side shot is pretty epic too.
Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern is the brainchild of local Los Angeles restaurateur Paul Boettcher (Ye Olde King’s Head Santa Monica, Sagebrush Cantina Calabasas, Busby’s West Santa Monica and Busby’s East in mid-city Los Angeles). In fact, Spare Tire is in Boettcher’s old El Toro Cantina space.
“Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern is an elevated experience,” says Boettcher. “It is not your typical drinking hole.”
There’s not really an identity to the Spare Tire menu as it runs the gamut of cuisines.
“Cooking for me is truly making everything from scratch,” says Chef Isaias. “We stress that importance with all of our dishes down to the most minute ingredient that may be added to a dish.”
A good starter item includes the oysters served with house cocktail sauce and mignonette. Another great option is the tasty and somewhat fiery lobster pizza with Maine lobster, sundried tomato pesto, hollandaise, idiazabal cheese, arugula, Fresno chilis, and shallots. This is a great one to share, otherwise plan to have leftovers. The Hanger Steak Pizza with hanger steak, chimichurri, fresno chilis, pickled red onions, and cilantro is a crowd pleaser as well, but I really liked the lobster pizza. It’s just something you don’t see too often. Either way, you’ll be happy.
If you want more lobster, the Lobster Roll with New England roll, butter lettuce and fresh dill is a solid choice. I prefer hot lobster rolls over cold ones, and since my trip to Maine for all things lobster roll, well, I came back a bit of a lobster roll snob.
You can’t be too snobby if you’re down for the Chicken & Waffle Sliders and you should be all over this dish. Hearty, sweet and sticky, this is trashy yet fun and most importantly, delicious. Fans of savory will be all over this. Likewise, the Pork Belly Lollipops with citrus gastrique and micro greens is a fun item. I wouldn’t call these a must have but they are a nice treat.
The Roasted Bone Marrow with olive chutney and crusty bread is nice but I’m over the bone marrow craze and I’d rather share some of the bigger dishes, like the Short Rib Gnocchi with ricotta gnocchi and stout-braised short rib. This is a really filling option so order it if you’re really hungry, cool with leftovers or if you’re sharing.
If you’re looking for a burger option, the Lamb Burger with grilled apples, gorgonzola, honey tzatziki and wild arugula and is great choice. I like the gamey meat option and the apples and cheese give the burger a dynamic and distinct flavor.
I thought after ten years, El Toro Cantina had run its course so it’s nice to have something new in the neighborhood and with Chef Isaias delivering solid and creative fare; this isn’t your typical bar food bites. Now if the bar program will elevate its game then we’ll really have a Miracle Mile winner on our hands.
Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern is located at 5370 Wilshire Blvd. Open for lunch daily from 11:30am to 4pm, and dinner every Sunday through Wednesday from 4pm to 10pm and every Thursday through Saturday from 4pm to Midnight. Call at 323-525-2618.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photo Credit: Acuna Hansen
Photography Courtesy of: Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern