Peru is known as a magical place and Spain is known for its extensive beauty and free spirit. Together, they create something other-worldly with visual aesthetics, a devotion to gorgeous ingredients, and a love for the fiery passion we hope to taste on a plate. Both countries are known as lands of beautiful flavor profiles and unique cuisine, and here in Los Angeles, we have been given a culinary gift by way of Los Balcones. With three locations, it’s the Studio City location imagined by two friends and culinary masters, Jorge Rodriguez and Ricardo Zarate that called your name.
The moment you enter into this Mestiza haven, the dining experience to follow is so wonderfully immersive, it has become a local favorite this writer won’t soon forget. The décor at the restaurant is unique from the onset. With fascinating shapes and textures that seem to bend and move in the direction of a tree, with the application of clever design and color schemes the space is transformed.
Beginning with cocktails and delightful service, the knowledge and passion the staff here embodies is something of a revelry. As a curious drinker, I have my preferred spirits, but I firmly believe exploration is engrained in my DNA, and so whenever I can, I defer to the mixology team trusting they’ll bring something I’ve never tasted before. And at Los Balcones, they do.
The following look at each dish is meant to give you a clear idea of what you can expect.
From Lima with Love
Limo pepper infused gin, aloe liqueur, line, agave, habanero shrub bitters, fennel bitters
Mezcal, passion fruit, huacatay (Peruvian mint)
The way to begin any meal is with a proper cocktail.
The cocktails at Los Balcones Studio City tell a story of their own with bold flavors, hints of heat and botanicals, and a freshness that comes from curious mixologists able to curate cocktails that have balance, intention, and global infusion. From Lima With Love unravels one spicy sip at a time, and for anyone with a taste for fuego, this is where you should begin. The Margarita Sofia is special because while it is a perfectly balanced cocktail, the passion fruit whiskey cube that nestles and unfolds as it melts into the cocktail itself makes it one authentic libation. Once the drink has been drunk, it’s like finding the prize inside a Cracker Jack box—it is a lovely finish.
Kumiyagi from Washington
Spicy tuna, creamy leche de tigre, sun-dried tomato, Yuzu aioli
quinoa risotto, shimenji shitake, trumpet royal, Maitake, pecorino, truffle essence
Food is the gateway to the world.
The way each dish is presented is part of the experience. Sure, oysters can be served on a bed of ice, but it’s the accompaniments that allow the naturalness of this shelled wonder to captivate your mouth. These oysters are served on a bed of salt and fresh peppercorn, and each oyster is adorned with an edible pansy flower making it visually appealing and palate cleansing.
Avocado toast may seem like just another dish but what these chefs have done with the elements of spicy tuna, leche de tigre, sun-dried tomato, and yuzu aioli is a new version of a well-loved tried and true. The next dish is made for anyone who has ever loved feasting on mushrooms. The quinotto quinoa risotto with four variations of mushrooms is where you’ll want to land. Come hungry because these dishes are plentiful.
Pulpo a La Parrilla
grilled octopus, anticucho barbecue, cauliflower purée, pickled fennel, botija olive aioli
Costilla Short Ribs
northern style Peruvian short rib slow cooked for six hours in beer tomato panca, lima bean tacu tacu, sunny side egg, salsa criolla
pan seared sea bream, lentils, cilantro salsa verde, creme fraiche, arugla
Telling the story of a people through food is how we understand one another.
While each dish has its own traits that allow it to shine independent of the other, the above three entrées are so interesting and distinctly different, they left me wanting more. The pulpo a la parilla has so many components that nurtured the others on the plate. I’ve said it more times than I can count but grilled octopus is tricky, and while I applaud every chef’s efforts, it isn’t always a win. This particular octopus was grilled with timing in mind, so the fork just glides into it and cuts with ease, but the richness from the antichuco barbecue, the tart of the pickled fennel, and the cream of the cauliflower purée makes the octopus the star of the show with an ideal cast of flavored characters.
Next, the Costilla Peruvian short ribs are served in a metal bento box with such an eclectic arrangement of texture, it’s a lovely representation of a national dish. Cooked in beer tomato panca, the acidity gives the meat a fluid consistency and taste. Lastly, the pan seared sea bream is delicious. The dish is light, yet the lentils give it an added richness, and the arugula brings a wonderful crunch and bitterness that brings out the flavors of the fish.
Dessert is absolutely decadent, and by the time it arrived, I was so full I could only indulge in a taste. That said, I tried the Quinoa Con Leche and Apple Pie—both of which were light and leant to the aptly titled desert menu, happy ending. Everything on the menu is worth trying and the desserts are no exception.
Eat the world, see the beauty.
Los Balcones is a love letter from Peru and Spain to Angelenos, sharing sweet kisses in the flavors, a soft touch through the ingredients; the passion evident in each dish; seduction in each cocktail; and warmth that emits in every person that works there from the front of the house to the bar to those manning the culinary delights in the kitchen.
As an editor, I search for something truly unique. As a native Angeleno, I search for the reasons to love being from this colorful city—a city that represents all the colors and cultures of the world. Los Balcones is where I can slip away and fall in love with the seduction of something wonderfully different.
Tue – Sat
5:00 – 11:00 pm
Saturday 11am – 2:30pm
Sunday 11am – 4:30pm
11334 Moorpark St.
Studio City, CA 91602
photos courtesy of Hakan Tanak + Dawn Garcia + Los Balcones
[title maintitle=”About the Concept” subtitle=”Two Chefs, One Ideal Venture”]
This project has been ten years in the making for both Jorge Rodriguez and Ricardo Zarate. Being long time friends and committed restaurateurs in the Los Angeles restaurant scene, both have spoke about working together for quite awhile and now the birth of Los Balcones in Studio City is complete.
Jorge, owner of the iconic Peruvian restaurant, Los Balcones in Hollywood and Ricardo ‘the godfather of Peruvian cuisine’ both wanted to explore Mestizo cuisine and put a spotlight on Spanish and Peruvian flavors. Both being from Peru, Los Balcones in Studio City is extremely personal and highlights the several ingredients they both grew up surrounded by and enjoying every day.
With signature dishes such as their Seco de Pato, Quinotto and Costilla Short Ribs, Jorge and Ricardo want guests to explore the flavors of Mestizo cuisine together.