One of the best new restaurants in Los Angeles is DAMA, a Latin-American restaurant is tucked away in the middle of DTLA’s Fashion District. And when we say “tucked away” we mean it. DAMA is located inside the City Market South complex, a few block east of Santee Alley where 11th Street deadends into San Pedro Street. Although this part of the Fashion District is bustling during the day, at night, it’s a no-man’s land, but once you find the place, it is so worth the trip. DAMA is a beautiful open air restaurant with seating both inside and out. The place has a real tropical vibe. You get the feeling that you have been transported to the Caribbean. Because we decided to try our luck and check out DAMA on a Saturday night without reservations, we ended up eating at the bar.
We started with cocktails. My husband ordered the Sandia y Mezcal ($16). It was watermelon and Mezcal… and he loved it so much he ordered a second one. I went for the Rooftop Garden Cooler ($11) made with Vermouth, ginger, lime and soda. These cocktails really help enhance the tropical vibe.
Everything on the menu made my mouth water. We decided to start with the Guacamole ($11). It’s made with pickled chilies, Persian cucumbers, cilantro and lime (pictured at top of post) and it’s served with full-sized crispy tortillas (not chips). Seriously, we have eaten a lot of guacamole in our lives and this was one of the best guacs… ever! You can’t go to DAMA and not get the guacamole.
Next up came the Empanadas ($13). It’s five mini empanadas filled with ground beef and served with Brazilian hot vinegar. I’ve never heard of hot vinegar before, but I’m a fan now. We had to try DAMA’s version of Corn ($12). It was 5 pieces of skewered corn on the cob covered in a queso fresco, cilantro aioli and chili lime salt. The corn is another “must order” item off the menu. At the recommendation of the bartender we also ordered the Celery ($12) that he compared to a Caesar Salad. This dish is all celery pieces including the leaves and seeds combined with jicama, Parmesan cheese, soft quail’s egg, lemon and olive oil. So original and delicious. We couldn’t not try one of DAMA’s tacos ($4) filled with oxtail, queso fresco, radish, avocado plus a side of pickled vegetables.
We had to try the Clams & Chorizo ($16) prepared with basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, Spanish cider and butter. It’s served with charred bread that you used to soak up the delicious broth.
And then, just when we thought we were full, a person across the bar ordered the Banana Sundae ($14). This dessert looked so good I had to have one. It serves two and was the perfect way to close out a perfect meal.
The service was ultra-friendly, and all of the food is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the taste buds. DAMA is open every night at 5pm for dinner. It’s the perfect place for a romantic dinner, but also great to meet up with friends after work. You need to check this place out!
DAMA FASHION DISTRICT 612 E. 11th Street (at San Julian Street) 213.741.0612