Santa Monica, CA(Spiritsman)9/7/13/–Obviously for many people in Los Angeles it is probably hard to get over excited about any Mexican restaurant, but in the case of La Sandia in Santa Monica, there should be good reason. Richard Sandoval is the chef behind the menu, and since he is the Latin version of Gordon Ramsey in my opinion, you can always be sure of something special or different happening.
It is a huge cavernous space that seats up to 160 diners, and the very high ceilings mean that the acoustics are good and that the pop muzak they play at night does not become overbearing. Service is brisk and organized from the squadron of red shirted waiters, and on a quiet Tuesday night after labor day, a chile relleno festival of sorts greeted me. Head chef is Eduardo Barrios (although his business card says Head Kitchen Manager), and after working his way up from the bottom of the rung in the kitchen hierarchy, he now finds himself the front man preserving the well earned reputation of Richard Sandoval.
Something as simple as the tortilla chips and salsa you normally take for granted, but at La Sandia they were both as fresh as any I have ever tasted and have their own special fryer.
Starting with the outstanding Mexican Chicken Soup ($6.95) which was as lively as the chips and salsa probably because of the use of the cilantro, I moved on to the Ceviche appetizer which was so big, it could easily be construed as a main course. Shrimp are cured in lime juice, giving them that extra zest. Chipotle Prawns ($21.95) were equally terrific. At least six large prawns, maybe more, topped with an achiato-chipotle sauce with white rice and sautéed vegetables.
Since they were also in the middle of their second Chile Relleno Festival my guest tried the ‘Chile Piccadillo Relleno ($18.95),’ two pasilla chiles generously stuffed with chorizo, bacon, pork and mashed plantain with pipian sauce and crème fresca and mexican rice and refried beans. Again a beautiful presentation and a substantial meal and just the right spices according to her.
No decent meal would be any good without the right cocktail, and again La Sandia came up trumps with the Pomegranate Cocktail ($9.95) and the Coconut Mojito ($10.95).
Both drinks were a perfect foil for the food, and in the case of the Mojito, a nice touch was the chile-ancho coconut rim which complemented the Malibu Red rum and the intense citrus taste of the drink.
Cinnamon ice cream with some delicious Churros at the end of the meal was a great way to end this mid-week mini-feast The only negative of the restaurant to me was the rather uncomfortable seating in the Booths, but when I mentioned it to the manager in passing he assured me that they had heard that before, so I did not feel so bad in bringing it up. However the lighting is good so you can actually see what you are ordering.
La Sandia-395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Hours-11.30 am-close Monday-Saturday
Sunday Brunch-A La Carte 11.30 am-3 pm
Happy Hour 4pm.
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211