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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.
If you have only one day in Santiago, what is the best way to see it? A food tour where you walk through the city, visiting markets, restaurants, street vendors and get an introduction to the culinary culture of Chile. After all, food is something that we all share. It is a way to look at the world. Food is a way to get to know another culture. Our guide was Colin Bennett, an American who lives in Santiago. Originally from the mid-west, Colin came to Chile to teach English and ended up staying. About eight years ago, Colin started FoodyChile. We met in the Plaza de Armas in the center of the city. A map lies in the ground in the center of the plaza showing the now dry Rio Ma Pocho that runs through the city of Santiago. Colin explained Chile's history to us, from the indigenous Ma Pocho who gathered foods like shellfish, pinenuts, beans and mushrooms to ingredients brought to Chile by the Spanish. We began walking and soon was in Portal Fernandez Concha. A hotel in the 1860's, today the promenade is filled with a row of hot dog vendors. The Chilean hot dog, with lots of toppings, is Chile's own national junk food.