Photo by Maria Arredondo
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Adjacent to Boyle Heights, just over the bridge in a secret location, lays one of the best dining experiences”¯in Los Angeles. It is not a Mexican restaurant, nor is it a restaurant for that matter, but something about it reminds me of dinners at home in Boyle Heights.
The place is called Wolves Mouth and it is the vision of chef Craig Thornton. The only way to get in is to email a request, and if you are lucky enough, you will get a response back”¯with an invitation.
The location is secret– even to those who have been invited– until the day of.”¯
I had heard about these underground pop up dinners or supperclubs, but had never been to one. Chef Thorton invited my boyfriend, who is also a chef, after visiting the restaurant where he works.
The dinner was held at a loft in the Los Angeles Arts District, about three miles away from my home in Boyle Heights. In the middle of the loft, there was a long dining table, which sat about 20 people. The room was surrounded by a collection of taxidermies, while the walls are full of”¯art for your viewing pleasure.
Although the surroundings were different, the table full of people and the music playing in the background reminded me of the gettogethers my family and I had growing up. This was a”¯bring-your-own-beer type of event, which made”¯the experience not as”¯fancy as you may expect.
We had nine courses””all of them very well rounded, rich in flavor and amazingly executed.”¯The first was a rib eye cap, plantain, broccoli tempura, broccoli stalk slaw, mint aioli, black bean soubise, and pina.”¯This may sound like a lot of ingredients, but when you get a taste, they are all well balanced and off set each other. The black bean in the dish really reminded me of the refried beans my mother used to make for dinner. It was very comforting.
The first course”¯really set the tone for the dinner; it was small in size”¯and big on taste. Everyone at the table looked around at each other in complete awe. How could something so small and simple be so delicious?”¯”¯One of my favorite things to eat is pork”” tamales the puerco, carnitas, chicharrones, you name it. When I saw that one of the dishes would be pork belly,”¯I was in heaven.
The fifth”¯dish was my favorite: pork belly,”¯piquillo, squid”¯ink aioli,”¯potato, almond, parsley and”¯squid ink sabayon. I‘ve had the pork belly many times, but never like this. The almond really brought the flavors together and made the dish one of my favorites”¯of all time.
One of the three”¯desserts served had something called lemon ice. It was like drinking a raspado, with”¯finer ice.
As you”¯sit there and the dishes arrive, you think to yourself, ‘they are not”¯big servings,’ but”¯by dish”¯number five, you start to wonder if you are”¯going to make”¯it to dish number nine.
Just like in family gatherings, where you sit around talking, catching up and drinking, time starts to fly by, and before you know”¯it, you”¯have inhaled so much food that you need another day off just to recover. The same happened here. Between each serving, we walked around, got to know people, enjoyed the arts and music, and”¯continued to break bread with these people who, by now, weren’t strangers anymore.
Author’s note: My boyfriend and I enjoyed this experience so much, we decided to put together a dinner at our home, east of the LA River. Stay tuned for my next post on how this event turned out.
Maria Arredondo is a full-time working mom who always finds time to sit and have a meal with her family. Maria was born and raised in Boyle Heights, where she recently bought a home and lives with her boyfriend, two kids and her boyfriend’s sister. She calls herself an “Accidental Foodie” and loves to write.