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Guide for sophisticated vegetarian dining

Category Archives: Los Angeles, CA

Rivera feels like the future. So many options. So much complexity. It offers “Modern Latin Cuisine” in three dining rooms, each devoted to Mexican, Iberian, or Brazilian cuisine. There are also fusion options under the “conexiones” heading. And they’ve brought back the original menu from their old restaurant, Saint Estaphe, but not everything on the menu is available.

I was grateful to be vegetarian at this place — I don’t know how I’d have waded through the options otherwise. We were in the Iberian room, but they let vegetarians order from across the three rooms. You can order some great dishes here, though they don’t cater to vegetarians by marking items. Or — what the heck — by creating a vegetarian menu to go with all those others.

My Pre-Columbian white gazpacho was too rich with almonds to finish, and my chili relleno seemed a tad undersauced. But never mind all that. Next time, I want 100 of the tortillas florales – perfectly light corn tortillas brushed with butter and with a fresh flower pressed in the middle.

In addition to choice and complexity, Rivera helpfully provides you with topics of conversation on the dishes themselves — we were directed to discuss the stimulus package. In the future, it will be this way everywhere, even at Denny’s.


An unexciting shot of me in front of Melisse — they don’t allow cell phone cameras to be used in the restaurant. Makes total sense. Melisse has gone to great lengths to preserve the 80s. Inside, it’s easy to believe that Reagan is still President and shoulder pads are cool. Allowing people to take photos with their phone would ruin the effect.

So if you love the 80s (and even if you don’t), Melisse is worth a visit. The sample “10” tasting menu is only for carnivores, but there is a fabulous 5-course vegetarian tasting menu. Chef Josiah Citrin doesn’t mind applying French techniques to vegetables. A puff pastry dish (Toad in the Hole) was my favorite, though the corn agnolotti was a close second.

Service is brisk but accommodating — they let me make substitutions to the vegetarian tasting menu for $10. Epic cheese cart.

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