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Broken Spanish Closes, Ending L.A.’s ‘Alta California’ Renaissance

12:31 PM PDT on August 4, 2020

    [dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n another blow to L.A.’s Taco Life, chef Ray Garcia announced this morning that his celebrated five-year-old restaurant, Broken Spanish, has come to an ‘abrupt’ end. In his heartfelt post announcing the closure, Garcia recounts how his father made him realize that he had worked 20 years to open his own restaurant and how it really was a dream come true after all. 

    The L.A. Live-adjacent restaurant in downtown L.A. was celebrated by media and diners alike for Garcia’s ability to execute Mexican-rooted dishes with the finesse of fine dining in a casual setting. His popular dishes included a crispy pork belly chicharrón, oxtail tamales, and refried lentils. It brilliantly carried the modern Mexican torch left behind in the space formerly occupied by pioneering chef John Sedlar and his concept that was ahead of its time, Rivera

    This news comes approximately a day after Wes Avila announced that he is stepping away from his revolutionary L.A. taco institution, Guerrilla Tacos. This one-two punch effectively ends the first “Alta California” cuisine era in the city, spearheaded by the L.A.-raised food minds of both Avila and Garcia. Leaving the evolution of the taco in the hands of the next generation of ambitious young taqueros like Macheen, Metztli, and Bee Taquería.   

     

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    Those that know me, know that I’m a man of few words and seemingly fewer emotions. I try not to let things bother me and when they do, I find a way to press on; to work through it. I also find challenge in celebrating life’s successes. When I opened up Broken Spanish more than 5 years ago, I remember inviting my parents in as our first guests. They were so proud of me. So happy to be eating in my restaurant, a goal that I had been working on for 20 year. At one point my Dad looked at me and said, “Mijo how does it feel to have your dream come true?” I paused, having never thought of it that way. But, instead of honoring the accomplishment and living in the moment, all I could see was what was wrong. Tables that wobbled, hvac issues, dishes that weren’t quite right. Nothing was ever good enough. Now that I have had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my professional career, I look back and realize how right my father was. My dream had come true. With the love and support of my family and through the hard work and dedication of my team, we lived the dream every day. Broken Spanish was more than a restaurant, it was a family. Together we pushed each other to be the best ambassadors of a cuisine and culture that up to that point had been so often overlooked, underappreciated and underrepresented in the culinary community. Like with many of the best dreams however, Broken Spanish has unfortunately come to an abrupt end. As we close our doors it is not just with sadness but with tremendous gratitude for all that have come out to support us throughout the past five years. While so many have contributed to its success, Broken Spanish would not be the same without the hard work and support @maeria @chefjasonmattick #chefadrian @chefsamkowal @_agustin13 @melissawenke @mathieugiraud @chrischernock @ivanmarquez3 @jbshure @straight_filipillow @lewchan_la @mikelay2 @looisayala @actlikeakid @jlims

    A post shared by Ray Garcia (@chefraygarcia) on


    L.A. Taco has confirmed that Carlos Salgado and his OC Alta California establishment Taco María remain standing strong, open, and “COVID-free.” 

    "I love that chef Ray Garcia came from a hotel restaurant where he was recognized for cooking incredible food but that still was influenced by what rich people on the Westside wanted and came into this very personal space that reflected his L.A. upbringing and vision, and propelled LA food, fine dining, and Mexican cuisine forward into progressive new places," says Hadley Tomicki, co-founder of L.A. Taco.

    “It was probably the best place to take someone and show them that Mexican food could be elevated and served alongside greats like Republique," says L.A. Taco’s Director of Partnerships, Memo Torres.

    The shuttering of this L.A. gem reminds diners in Los Angeles of the dire situation that many sit down restaurants face as Payment Protection Program-issued loans start to run out. It also brings to light the reality that many fine-dining type places don't necessarily translate to delivery or makeshift outdoor setups. 

    Fans of Garcia’s unique approach to Mexican food can still follow him at his new delivery-only taco concept, MILA. The menu includes items such as eggplant tacos with cashew crema and chicharrón tacos on heirloom corn tortillas. The full menu is available on their website

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