The traffic might have become worse in LA or I just need a few more weeks of getting into the driving mode. Checking out the new dining spots on the West Side is the key. I was thrilled when I heard about Onda. The pairing of Jessica Koslow of Sqirl and Gabriela Camara of Contramar in Mexico City had to be a win. Spoiler alert….it is a win.

There is a light California air in the restaurant. Lightwoods, high ceilings but not too high, a sloping ceiling that meets an open kitchen, seats in the front, the back and at the bar. It feels good.

Not surprising that the menu is a mixture of modern Mexico City meets California. Really unique and flavorful. I would guess they toiled over this for some time. The menu says “December 2019” on top so here’s hoping that every month they change it up to try more dishes.

Here are our highlights. The Chips and Dips are a must for the table. House made chips and we had to order a few more bowls to get to the bottom of the silky Suncoast black beans, fermented chile guacamole, crema, papalo oil, and the salsa tatemada. It is hard to pile all of those on one chip but I managed and it was well worth it. The flavors work so well together including the different textures. And those beans!

Fish hiding in Kelp is their take on fish and chips. Long strips of kelp and small anchovies deep-fried in a masa-batter. Crispy, light and airy and an intense flavor that pairs well with the puffed meyer lemon dip.

This is the second place we have seen persimmons on the menu. I am a fan. Luscious and sweeter than an apricot and soft like papaya. House-made pulled-cheese (think Mexican burrata) with grilled bread, fermented shishito vinaigrette and a spot of basil. I could eat this all day long. As you can see in the photos there is always an empty just finished plate in the background.

Smoked trout tostada has a saltiness to it that cut with the beans and avocado is kind of perfect. Trout, sauerkraut, castelvetranos, carrots, braised Thao tomatoes and avocado. So good.

I love sweet potatoes but particularly the Japanese white sweet potatoes. These are Koji-marinated and covered with a salsa macha, housemade crema and served with heirloom corn tortillas on the side. The tortillas are so thin that they almost rip apart when you pick one up. There is a kick to this dish as it slides down your throat that actually makes you smile.

We had a few other things. The Whole Tapiocca-Fried Sea Bream is perfect for the table. Pull the meat off the bones and make your own tortilla. I could come in, sit a the bar, have a drink and this and be extremely happy. I would have to get the beans on the side though. The charred jalapeno sauce underneath the herbs runs through the meat before making its way into your tortilla.

An incredible addition to the west side of LA actually just an incredible addition to the restaurant line-up of the entire city.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    On the list for certain.

  2. awaldstein

    On my list.Anything to keep from having to drive to eat while on the west side.

  3. jtsvino

    Thank you for this enticing description of Onda. Visited on Saturday December 28th. Two couples, so much fun sharing and tasting. They were full on, the staff and kitchen certainly assured and with plenty of lightness and humor too. If I lived in LA I’d happily eat through the entire menu over repeat visits. We had some of the dishes you mentioned (Sea Bream was really good), along with the slightly spicy octopus. When I asked for a smoky whiskey cocktail, they suggested the “Naked and Famous”, made with Mezcal, which was fun too. Really appreciate learning about this place from you, as does my (2nd) cousin and his wife who live in the LA area so can return periodically. The restaurant has become popular, so if you prefer a quieter experience the far corner table is prized.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Will ask for that corner table!