If the Grupo Hunan name isn’t immediately familiar to Angelenos, that’s okay. Chances are, after Alma at the Grove opens on May 5, the two teams know each other very well. Grupo Hunan is a major player in Mexico City, known for some of this city’s most acclaimed restaurants across the dining spectrum (the name comes from the first Chinese restaurant in the family empire); The Angelenos are known as a fiercely loyal bunch who want no punches when it comes to flavor, warmth, and ambiance. The sensitivity of the two cities meets perfectly in Alma.
The Grove’s new restaurant bears almost no resemblance to The Grove itself. The restaurant is a destination unto itself – part taqueria, part patio destination just steps from the famous fountain, part upscale white tablecloth destination on the second floor where the beautiful flavors of Mexico will be on full display. Even the corner space’s former tenant, none other than Dominique Ansel, can match Alma’s vigor, from the tacos on handmade tortillas to the brilliant cocktails to the extensive and varied dinner menu. , served with panache upstairs.
For starters, there’s a taqueria and a tiendita on the ground floor, space for a casual lunch and a bit of shopping. Here, cooks carve al pastor on a spit, and others squeeze tortillas to order, while diners can move across the states of Mexico with every bite. There is the birria de res, which calls to Jalisco, and the cochinita pibil of Yucatán. Churros are a cross-border must, and the wraparound bar with imported mezcal, tequila, and wine sets the stage for upstairs dining. Shoppers can pick up Mexican produce, cookbooks, and more, or just linger on the terrace.
The floor focuses on evening meals with a touch of refined service. Here, white tablecloths, dim lighting, waves of tiles, light woods and twine set the stage for albondigas with chipotle sauce, a simmered center-cut fillet of steak served in its own juices. . There are all kinds of starters from raw seafood, grilled meats and poached fish. Cuaik Comprehensive Design Studio (a sister company of Grupo Hunan) has landscaped both floors, leaving ample room for outdoor dining on both levels.
Taken together, this is Alma, a space as moving as its name suggests. There’s something for all comers here in this corner of the grove, including spicy and savory flavors and sweet finishes for a summer evening. It’s exactly what LA loves, and in that way, it’s a welcome arrival for one of Mexico’s biggest and best restaurant groups.
Alma opens at The Grove (189 Grove Drive, Suite H-10) on May 5, keeping opening hours down from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for food and up from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner daily. La tiendita is open every day from noon to 10 p.m.