LA Confidential Magazine: Zengo and La Sandia

The second entry I wrote for the October issue of LA Confidential's City Eats section was a double-duty preview of La Sandia and Zengo, two new restaurants at Santa Monica Place from renowned Mexican chef Richard Sandoval (you might know of his restaurant in New York, Maya).

Santa Monica Place, at the end of the Third Street Promenade, is definitely the dining destination of the moment in Los Angeles, and from what I understand, it's been packed every single night since it opened in August. That's thanks to beautiful shops, plenty of bars, and six high-end restaurants, including these two.

La Sandia is sort of like a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine, for which Sandoval is renowned, and Zengo is his ode to Asian-Latin fusion, with dishes like Peking duck tacos. Take a look at my article at the link below, or read on to see the text of what I wrote!


La Sandia and Zengo

Though he’s been called “the father of modern Mexican cuisine,” we think of Richard Sandoval more like Pancho Villa (minus the flamboyant mustache)—a rebel reimagining classic Mexican and Latin dishes with a refinement usually reserved for the most haute French cuisine. Thanks to his upscale insurgency, he’s forged a restaurant empire stretching from Mexico and the US to Dubai. Now the Mexico City native is bringing his innovative vision to Southern California with the opening of two restaurants at Santa Monica Place.

La Sandia is Sandoval’s ode to traditional modern Mexican cuisine, with a menu including braised-beef and chorizo empanadas and shrimp ceviche in nose-tingling citrus-habanero broth, while the bar features 250 hand-selected tequilas and mescals. The architecture was inspired in part by a 16th-century Mexico City palace, with bright azulejo talavera tiles and a courtyard strung with lights and a retractable glass roof.

Sandoval’s other restaurant is the fourth location of his Asian-Mexican fusion concept, Zengo, and is based on the combination of “pan-Latin ingredients with unexpected Asian flavors,” such as the signature Peking duck tacos wrapped in a daikon radish and hoisin-adobo beef short ribs with Manchego-potato puree. The dining room has understated design touches such as rose-colored lights and a splash of teal wood paneling on the ceiling for color. On a chilly autumn night, opt for a table next to the outdoor terrace’s fireplace, ideal for sipping a tamarind-togarashi margarita. 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica;