A SPICY MAKEOVER CREATES A NEW LA LA LAND HOTSPOT
Like a starlet who has seen better days, reinvention is second nature in Hollywood. Whether it’s a drastic facelift or a slight nip and tuck here and there, a new look builds buzz and creates interest in Tinseltown.
When Eva Longoria opened Beso on Hollywood Boulevard in 2008 it immediately became a hotspot. Now nearly a decade later, Beso has transformed into Viva Hollywood sporting a new look, chef and ownership. While Beso featured a lovely interior, Viva Hollywood basks in the glow of a stunning makeover.
Still a solid pick for pre-theater dinner or for late night bites and drinks, Viva Hollywood has a lively yet chic atmosphere that’s perfect for dining and drinking. During our recent visit for dinner it took a while to find a cocktail that impressed but beverage director Erik Weatherford has crafted a drink menu that offers something for every palette. At first the Afterglow with Earl Grey-infused Botanist Gin was too sour and the Viva Old-Fashioned with Maker’s Mark 46 was too sweet. And the Viva Margarita had too much mint for my liking—but then again, I don’t like mint. The Viva Manhattan with Maker’s Mark 46 and Bulleit Rye was nice as was the Viva La Vida with Cachaca, lime, hibiscus, cinnamon and Serrano.
While I am a fan of Chef Raymond Alvarez’s cuisine, I am not fond his tendency to overcharge for simple and basic items. At Toca Madera an order of guacamole and salsa costs $23, which I find offensive. At Viva Hollywood guac and salsa costs $20—still too much. This time around, the guacamole is not made tableside, which at least is a good gimmick, and it was served cold and didn’t come across as very fresh. Alvarez again uses pomegranates, which creates a colorful dish with a tasty pop but at $11 it’s hardly a must-have item. The same goes for the salsas, which were neither fiery nor tasty. So pass on the salsa.
If you’re a fan of cheese, then instead start with the Cabra Fundido—baked goat cheese, tomato, cilantro, toasted pepitas and tortilla points. This is a very rich and decadent dish so if you’re on a diet or are counting calories, order something else.
We were big fans of the Fresco flatbread. We opted for the pulled short rib over the chicken machaca, which went perfectly with the queso fresco, roasted tomato sauce and garlic aioli. This is the starter item I would recommend to share, especially if you skip the guacamole and salsas.
After enjoying the flavorful flatbread it’s time for your entrée—especiales de la casa. I really liked the Seared Seabass with avocado puree and marinated pear tomato. This is a light and fresh dish that is simple and very pleasing. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine. Meat lovers will relish the Skirt Steak with chipotle rub, smoked chimichurri, cilantro and butter. Pair with a glass of red wine and you have a very satisfying dinner on your hands.
If you save room for dessert, the Churros con Chocolate—Spanish donuts cooked to order with cinnamon, sugar and chocolate sauce—is a solid way to go but I’d recommend the Sleepless Nights cocktail with orange spice-infused Glenlivet 12-year, cold pressed coffee, cream and chocolate but then again I am a big fan of liquid dessert. I know some people don’t like their booze mixed with coffee but I don’t have that problem. This works on all levels, it’s sweet for dessert, offers a nice jolt, and gives you that one last shot of alcohol before you end your meal.
Viva Hollywood offers live entertainment every night, from live music and flamenco show to DJ. While it feels like a Mexican restaurant the gypsy music and flamenco show seemed ill placed but don’t worry about geography and enjoy the show. I also really liked how the bevy of piñatas that hang in the second-floor private lounge help decorate the space and add a festive charm. If you’re making a night out of in Hollywood, enjoy the swank setting at Viva, take in the live show, do some dancing and feast on a good yet affordable dinner if you opt for the flatbread, sea bass and/or skirt steak. I recommend the wine pairing instead of cocktails but order a round of drinks when you sit down and live it up.
Viva Hollywood is located at 6350 Hollywood Blvd. Open Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 11pm; Friday and Saturday from 6pm to 12am. Call 323-467-1350.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Most Photography Courtesy Of: Viva Hollywood