18 Jun Dining at Dama in Downtown LA
Dama in the Fashion District in downtown Los Angeles opened in July 2018 and was at the top of my list to visit. Somehow it took me almost a year to finally get there, due to an insanely busy travel schedule. But, it was worth the wait and I have already returned because Dama is a definite dining destination.
Dama is an upscale Latin-influenced restaurant located in a converted warehouse. From the moment you step inside, you will feel like you are at a tropical resort in the Caribbean. A gigantic wooden bar sits in the middle of the restaurant, covering a large portion of the space. Tables surround the bar and more tables can be found outside on the patio. But even when you are sitting inside, you will feel like you are outside as there are no solid walls around the restaurant and the outside breeze flows through the dining room.
The floors are tiled and wicker ceiling fans hang from the ceiling. The feeling is so tropical and relaxed, you will feel like you have stepped back in time to 1940s Havana as you sip a daiquiri at the bar. I am personally drawn to the wine list which is curated by Taylor Grant, who also oversees the wine program at one of Dama’s sister restaurants, Scopa Italian Roots in Culver City. The wine list is creative and eclectic with wines from around the world – Spain, Portugal, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Greece, Lebanon, Germany, Austria, California, Oregon, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and a small selection of wines from Sicily. Taylor and her team are on hand to suggest wines to enjoy with your meal and you are bound to try something you have not had before.
The Latin-inspired menu at Dama is influenced by Spanish, Mexican, Peruvian and Brazilian cuisines and ingredient such as chiles, cilantro, corn and fresh citrus are found throughout dishes. The plates are generally small and meant to be shared which means you can order a variety of dishes to enjoy.
Bread (heirloom tomatoes, confit garlic, parsley, Portugese olive oil) – It may seem odd to order bread but we loved this one so much we ordered a second order. The bread is toasted and topped with heirloom tomatoes and Portuguese olive oil that saturates the bread.
Guacamole (pickled chiles, Persian cucumber, cilantro, lime, crispy tortillas) – Creamy fresh guacamole, where is there not to like?
Whipped Beans (heirloom white beans, crispy pork, cotija cheese, onion, radish, pickled onion) – This white bean dip is so smooth and creamy and topped with crispy pork, cotija cheese and pickled onions. Crispy tortillas are served with the dip.
Crispy Squash Flowers (farmer’s cheese, goat cheese, thyme, chive) – Plump lightly crispy squash flowers are filled with soft cheeses and melt in your mouth.
Cucumber (pumpkin seeds, espelette, mint, oregano, green onion, apple cider vinegar) – The cucumber is fresh and crunchy and I love the pumpkin seeds but this dish was also very spicy, perhaps a bit much for me.
Seafood Tostada (octopus, calamari, shrimp, cherry tomatoes, charred summer corn, chilies, cilantro, avocado) – Crispy corn tostadas are served on the side of this seafood ceviche.
Empanadas (dry aged ground beef, green onion, smoked paprika, Brazilian hot vinegar) – Tasty little pockets filled with warm meat, the empanadas are easy to share.
Corn (queso fresca, cotija, cilantro aioli, chili lime salt, Mexican crema) – Classic Mexican street food, the corn is coated with crema and queso fresca and the bright citrus of the lime shines through.
Taco (oxtail, cabbage, queso fresco, radish, avocado, hot pickled veg) – Shredded oxtail is topped with cabbage and queso fresco and fresh avocado slices are served on the side.
Dama also has a selection of large plates which should definitely be ordered.
Whole Snapper (escabeche, lime, pineapple) – The marinated fish is covered in grilled pineapple. Soft warm tortillas served on the side should you want to create little tacos.
Rib Eye (dry aged 24 oz bone in, avocado, grilled eggplant and king oyster mushroom, charred green onion, salsa verde) – Cooked to medium rare, the salsa verde adds a bright flavor to the meat, which is served with grilled vegetables, fresh avocado and warm tortillas.
For dessert, Dama offers soft serve ice cream which fits the warm Caribbean theme of the restaurant. The Pacific Banana Co Sundae is soft serve ice cream served in a large paper cup, almost like a popcorn tub, and topped with buttered bananas, caramel and peanuts.
The Churros, served with cinnamon, sugar and arequipe sauce, are the perfect size, about the length of your finger, and are served fresh and warm.
Dama is definitely a dining destination and I anticipate returning on a regular basis!
Dama Fashion District
612 E. 11th St., Los Angeles
(213) 741 -0612