A gold-hued, pentagon-shaped chandelier hovers over the bar at the center of DAMA. Large fans spin, pulling air across the lavish interior. There is no air conditioning, instead a fresh breeze dips through the restaurant at about 5pm. It’s part of the Latin America, Carribean charm that makes the Fashion District-located bar and eatery a unique creation among the many international and period-themed locales that have popped up around downtown over the last few years.
DAMA breathes with 1950s Cuban romance, a time when socialites and celebrities flocked to the Caribbean nation. Deep red leather sofas fill the interior, while high chairs with cane backs and plush cushions surround the elegantly carved wood bar. It’s almost amorous. You get the feeling that Charles H. Baker would have sipped cocktails here after a beachfront dinner with Errol Flynn. There are also three separate outdoor eating areas, ideal for those looking to dine al fresco.
The menu mixes classical and tropical flavors that further delve into the bar and eatery’s Latin American, Caribbean, and Spanish roots. Oysters, Iberico Lomito, chicken croquettes, soft shell crab, and bone marrow are just a few of the tantalizing small plates on offer, while dry-aged rib eye and whole snapper are among the rich large plates diners can choose from.
The cocktail menu shows attention to craft, and provides a plethora of options. Drinks aren’t cheap, but they are worth the price. Those looking to follow the Hemingway path can sip on a Daiquiri De Luxe (rum, lime, orgeat, pineapple gum) – we’d think he’d make an exception even though it doesn’t come with his preferred grapefruit juice. If you’re looking for something spirit-forward, try the Cock n’ Bull Special. It’s full and round with bitter orange and almond notes. It’s a cocktail deserving of appreciation as it buzzes on the tongue and grows with you over time.
It’s no surprise that DAMA hits on every level. It comes from an all-star team made up of Executive Chef Antonia Lofaso and Beverage Directors Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix. Moix and Livigni have created some of the most nominated bar programs in the world and have received multiple nominations from Tales of a Cocktail Spirited Awards for World’s Best Drink Selection, Best American Restaurant Bar, Best New American Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Spirits selection. And behind the bar, they have brought in some of the finest bartenders from across the Los Angeles area. The wine menu is no slouch either. It is created by Taylor Grant, who is also the Wine Director at Scopa Italian Roots and Old Lightning.
With it’s 1950s Caribbean charm, rich food offerings, and classic, yet imaginative cocktails, Everything about DAMA is pure delight.
P.S. To fully experience the bar and eatery, we recommend making your way through the brightly colored garments that fill the sidewalks of the Fashion District before nightfall as you head to the restaurant.
Find It At:
612 E 11th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Top Photo: DAMA
Right and Bottom Photos: Christopher Friedmann