Finally, Padre has the food it deserves thanks to Guadalajara-based Chef Manuel Bañuelos. (For my feature on Bañuelos in LA Weekly, click here.) Come June 2, the menu will be formally unveiled to its patrons.
Do not get me wrong: I adored the work of Frank DeLoach, Padre’s OG chef—but the reality of the matter is that the food he served me wasn’t always the food I would get.
It is time to leave that behind. Bañuelos’ food—one which has brought him across the world from London and Morocco to Chicago and LA—is nothing short of spectacular.
Padre’s grilled octopus.
His Zarandeado Shrimp is nothing short of an homage to West Coast Mexico and octopus ousts Playa Amor as the best in Long Beach that, the spicy chipotle mayo on the side is a genuinely wonderful pairing, needs nothing else but a knife and fork.
Padre’s seasonal mole with chicken, fried chicken skin chips, and pickled onion.
Take, for example, Bañuelos’ embracing of vegetarian food including vegan—yes, vegan—ceviche: asparagus and hearty chunks of hearts of palm are thrown into a citrusy coconut milk bath, tossed with some lemon basil and drizzled with a lime-basil oil. The final unveiling is a beautiful concoction of ceviche-like flavors that matches the acidity and flavor profile of his Santa Barbara shrimp aguachile (minus the rich herbal addition of hoja santa that makes his aguachile dangerously edible).
Padre’s grilled panela and nopal.
His grilled panela and nopal might be a seemingly humble dish but the fact that his panela, often called queso canasta, isn’t dried out by the time it’s off the grill and that his nopales aren’t slimy give credence to his respect and knowledge of traditional preparation. Hell, the guy even makes a deep-fried avocado taco with molcajete on top. Vegetarians, rejoice!
Padre’s fried-avocado taco with molcajete salsa.
Or take a glance at his pork belly: eschewing the chicharrones– or carnitas-like pork belly, Bañuelos creates a morita—the spicy chile blend you’ll often find as an additive to pozole—but he uses hibiscus. The result is a tangy, sweet, and tart glaze that, when heaped upon pickled onions, oregano, and mint, creates a type of pork that is hard to find elsewhere.
Padre’s pork belly with jamaica morita glaze.
Oh, and more poke is coming to DTLB: a new poke joint will be moving into the space next to the Starbucks at Ocean and Alamitos in the Current residential tower. It will join the new poke joint opening up at 3rd and Promenade, Poki Star at 3rd and Pine-ish, and Poke Bar at 1st and Linden.