Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/781893

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 43

D iners will be seeing red in a good way at Red O, whose stylish, sleek Santa Monica location offers deli- cious and inventive Mexican cuisine with a wide range of options for vegans and vegetarians alike. The setting is modern with a pier and ocean view, the bar is glowingly backlit, lighting throughout makes patrons feel glamorous, and the tables are spaciously separated. The restaurant, which also has a location on Melrose and one in Newport Beach, was originally launched by James Beard award-winner and celebrity chef Rick Bayless. Executive chef Marc Johnson now oversees the Red O kitchen and has developed delicious fl avors that focus on Central and Baja Mexican recipes. While both the pedigree and style here is impressive, neither would count for much without the dining experience to back it up. And it does. Mouth- watering dishes, elegantly prepared, and terrifi c craft cocktails make this a great spot for a romantic evening—without marginalizing families, who'll also fi nd this an appealing spot for dinner. Yes, there is a kid's menu. One of the most delightful and fl avorful aspects is the freshness of the dishes—everything from the sauces to the tortillas are made fresh daily right at the restaurant. While guacamole is a fairly basic dish, it's not always a good one. Here, it's delicious. There's a tangy bite to the creamy avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and fresh lime juice—serrano chile is the key to adding some heft to this starter. The Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Tamales are also a win- ner, made with a sweet corn masa, Laura Chenel goat cheese, and a zingy tomatillo salsa. The salads offer a smart take on greens. We've grown weary of many kale salads in the LA area; perhaps it's an embarrass- ment of riches, but it seems like there's one on every menu, and they are all remarkably similar. Not so here. The Organic Baby Kale Salad is a lovely citrus mix of grapefruit and grilled jicama, as well as kale, avocado, cucumber, buzzy pepitas, and a sweet and spicy orange-habanero dressing. We also loved the rich and creamy Butternut Squash Soup, fragrant with garlic, mulato chiles, Marcona almonds, and plump golden raisins. Before tackling the variety of main dishes, the sides must be considered. They could easily make a full meal. There's nothing short of delicious about the Mexican street corn, the grilled broccolini that's aromatic with red chile fl akes, the Mexican red rice, and the sautéed Brussels sprouts and baby kale with sesame seeds. Another must is the plantains dish, fried but not oily, sweet but made savory with queso fresco. Ah, but someone has to take on the En- chiladas Suizas. Our vegetable enchiladas were plump with creamy tomatillo sauce, frisee, red rice, beans, and perfectly sautéed veggies which change seasonally. Kids will love the Monterey Jack Cheese Quesadilla, simple but lovely when built with a fresh corn tortilla, jack cheese, white rice, black beans, and guacamole. To drink, the Signature Red O Margarita is a top-choice, and can be—like each of Red O's margar- ita drinks—topped with Grand Marnier and made into a Cadillac Margarita. Like the food, the drinks are super fresh. The house-made limonada here makes this one spe- cial. Also in the glass: Cabo wabo blanco and O3 orange liqueur. If margaritas don't appeal, try the equally fi ne Coco-J Ito, a nice variant on a mojito, made with Cruzan coconut rum, fresh mint, fresh lime, simple syrup, and soda water. And of course, while the soft sea air wafts in and the festive street scene parades outside, you'll likely want to linger with dessert. Try the Passion Fruit Butter Cake made with grilled strawberries and passion fruit custard; go light with the as- sorted fresh berries with micro mint; or go for the irresistible, Just-Made Churros. With one bite, memories of all those stale amusement park churros will fade away. These are crisp on the outside, soft inside, and served with chocolate and cajeta sauce—a slow-cooked Mexican caramel sauce. The 'O' in the Red O name may come from that satisfi ed sound made following the last bite of dessert—was it good? "O" yes. Red O is located at 1541 Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica. Also locations on Melrose Ave, Newport Beach, and La Jolla. www.redorestaurant.com eat here now Award-Winning Mexican Cuisine RED O By Genie Davis Photo: Bob Hodson, Photo Top: Joe Greto february/march 2017 17

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - February / March 2017