There are certain places you should enjoy when you’re visiting a city (or living in it) and Asia de Cuba is one of them. I’ll admit it- I’m a little biased because I spent nearly two years wandering the halls of the Mondrian, but even after being able to recite the menu in my sleep I consistently go back for more. Isn’t that the trait of a great restaurant?

Mmmm.. Tunapica. My own personal kryptonite.

Mmmm.. Tunapica. My own personal kryptonite.

But if you go here with a myopic focus on the food you’re going to miss a whole experience. I’m not implying that the food isn’t excellent-it is- but it’s not designed to be enjoyed in a vacuum. You are supposed to kick back, enjoy a mojito, snack on the shared plates with your dining companions and exchange some friendly banter with your server while the sun sets over L.A. Get it?

The outside tables are even better.

Oh, wait, did I forget to mention the view?

There are a lot of people who go here to be seen, but as a former employee I’ll give you an inside track on something that is even more enjoyable than rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood crowd- getting there early. If you make it there by five you’ll find that there is a different rhythm that doesn’t exist after the sun has retreated. It’s… calm. No hustle and bustle, no plates and glasses clinking, no constant murmur of conversations happening next to you. You’d swear that someone was going to bust out a yoga mat any second.

There is also another advantage to the early dinner- the Skybar doorman doesn’t get there until 8pm. Finish up dinner (it takes about two hours) and wander on over just before the big rush hits the restaurant. Waiting in line is so passé.

Inside skybar at night

Inside skybar at night

Solid Menu Recommendations:

Calamari Salad

Tunapica

Short Ribs

Lobster Mash (mash potatoes and lobster.. who knew?)

Do you need a better reason to take off early on Friday?

Do you need a better reason to take off early on Friday?

Chris

When not at ESM, Chris can be found cycling up and down the Santa Monica Bay, re-engineering a turkey fryer into a pizza oven or reading about survival techniques in the Gobi desert.