Los Angelenos think they know Mexican food. But new kid on the block, Red O Restaurant, means that they have another thing coming. The latest offering from Mexican food guru and Top Chef Master Rick Bayless boasts a sophisticated bar and lounge, a courtyard flanked by two grand chandeliers and a glass tunnel of high-end tequilas that stretches from the bar to the dining room. All this to say, dining at the Red O is not your average enchilada experience.
Though the restaurant opened its doors in June, the interior is already packed with stars and socialites alike. Located amid a throng of retail hot spots in the heart of West Hollywood, the Red O’s exterior is encompassed by a wooden and metal geometric installation that rivals the best in southern California minimalism. The interior is elegant, with wide-open spaces, whitewashed exposed beams and plush seating, which add up to comfortable yet chic environs.
And of course, there’s the food. Bayless puts his spin on a combination of traditional Mexican dishes with Los Angeles light cuisine. Classic albodingas make an appearance on the menu but Bayless’ version comes with succulent beef and pork meatballs in a smoke chipotle tomato sauce, caramelized onions and Yukon gold potatoes. Pork belly sopes with black beans, salsa negra and sesame would win any grandmother’s stamp of approval. But the real piece de resistance comes at the finale of the meal. A luscious goat cheese cheesecake with caramel corn and a Mexican “Root Beer” sauce is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Red O Restaurant, 8155 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 323.655.5009, www.redorestaurant.com.