Hollywood Has A New Vegan Peruvian Restaurant Serving Delicious Sangria
Hollywood has an exciting new restaurant specializing in vegan Peruvian food and serving up tasty, seasonal sangrias.
Chavela just opened in Hollywood last week. It's rather small—only 600 square feet—and shares a wall with its big sister, Peruvian restaurant Los Balcones. Chavela differs from Los Balcones by serving an entirely vegan menu courtesy of Chef Rachel Carr (Cru Restaurant, SunCafe) and emphasizing their fruity, fresh sangrias. The space is bright and airy with plenty of green, courtesy of the wall-mounted planters.
To start, we suggest the chicharron ($9). While chicharron would traditionally consist of pork rinds, Chavela pulls this sharable starter off by lightly frying hearty portobello mushrooms and cauliflower with a little spice. If you're like me and you miss the fried mushrooms you could get at bowling alleys or dives in your hometown, this is a much more flavorful and lighter solution, especially when dipped in their cashew tartar. This is not a large dish, so ordering a plate for the table should satisfy any cravings for something fried without weighing you down.
We also enjoyed the barbacoa portobello tacos ($9). Barbacoa, at least in the U.S. often means cheek meat from a cow, but the portobello here offers a nice texture (unless you're one of those people who hates the texture of a portobello, of course). The mushroom is paired with fresh toppings like avocado, lime cashew crema, cabbage relish and pico de gallo. If you're alone, the three sizable tacos could be your whole meal. If you're not, it's great to share. Other appetizers include Peruvian-style egg rolls made with walnut sunflower chorizo and a beet tartare served with cashew ricotta, sweet potato chips, pepper jam and a mustard aioli.
When it comes to entrees, my favorite was the cauliflower steak ($16). This dish was hearty and full of flavor. The large piece of cauliflower sits atop sweet potato gratin and the sauce is a smoky rocoto romesco.
A filling dish, it's nice to see a vegan enchiladas wrapped in lettuce versus a heavier tortilla. Inside the two lettuce wraps, you'll find mushroom, corn and sweet potato. The enchiladas sit on a bed of black beans and quinoa and come smothered in a nacho cheese made with cashew ($16). Other entrees, including a chipotle mac 'n cheese and a corn and quinoa polenta, range from $14 to $16.
The specialty booze-wise at Chavela are the sangrias ($10 for a glass, $18 for a carafe). These Peruvian-style, wine-based cocktails are actually where the restaurant gets its name (though how exactly a chavela is made seems to vary defend on country and the person you ask). The Chavela Fresca is refreshing and sweet, perfect for summer. It's made with peach, curacao, lemon, mint, vanilla tea and sauvignon blanc. This drink has a heavy peach flavor, but a dry finish. The Chavela Rosa is less sweet, made with rose wine, aperol, silver rum, lemon and hibiscus liqueur. This one tastes a little boozier and substantial, with a strong hibiscus flavor. We also tried the Chavela Tradicional, which comes across more like an well-spiced, autumnal cocktail, made with red wine, torrontes, pisco huamani and chica morada. The spice comes from the chica morada, a Peruvian drink made by boiling blue corn with pineapple, cinnamon, clove, and sugar. Chavela carries a selection of wines and offers a few craft cocktails, like the Spicy Greens ($10)—tequila, lime, agave, verdito, celery bitters. Nonalcoholic beverages that might pique your interest include teas, lemonades and a horchata made with hemp. For dessert, our server recommended the chili chocolate ganache ($9). The creaminess in this dessert is provided by avocado, but the crust is surprisingly hard, which offers a welcome crunch. Other dessert options included a coconut banana tart with a buckwheat crust ($9) and berries with a whipped coconut cream ($6).
Chavela. 1358 Vine Street, Hollywood. Open Mon. to Thurs., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.