When Zaferia District’s steakhouse, The Hideaway, closed during the pandemic, co-owners Geoff and Karna Rau decided to re-open the space with a completely new concept, Selva—and a lot of that hinged on bringing in Colombian Chef Carlos Jurado as executive chef and partner.
Jurado’s family moved to Long Beach when he was 3, and for most of his life, he lived in the city, often commuting to L.A. to work at different restaurants.
“It’s almost been 15, 16 years since I’ve been cooking professionally, and not once have I really cooked in Long Beach,” Jurado said.
And Jurado is one of the many chefs that have planted themselves in Long Beach to contribute to the blooming food scene that has developed over the last few years.
Starting Wednesday, July 26, Selva will begin a five-day celebration to mark one year since doors opened. Wednesday will feature an all-day happy hour, which includes $2 off Colombian spirits, beer and favorites like a Refajo Colombiano, Aguila and Club Colombia Dorada beer.
The restaurant has a rotating, seasonal menu, but on Thursday, Selva specialties like its arepas con pollo will be brought back on the menu. Arepas are Colombian staple made of ground maize (corn) dough that’s crispy on the outside and stuffed with some type of filling.
A lot of Colombian food, and dishes at Selva, are naturally gluten-free because of the cuisine’s use of corn over wheat. Arepas, rice, beans and stewed chicken were the food of Jurado’s childhood—a meal his mom would make over and over again.
For those unfamiliar with Colombian cuisine, ingredients like cilantro, cumin, garlic and tomato are used often and in Jurado’s menu. Jurado wouldn’t describe his food as the most traditional Colombian food around, but his years of experience working in different kitchens has stressed the importance of balanced flavors in his own unique way.
“Usually things are finished off with some type of smoked salt, some type of fat and some acidity and spice to make sure all those flavors are being touched with every single dish,” Jurado said. “We have staples that are very traditional, just with my flare there.”
As an ode to Colombia’s location nestled (for the most part) in the South American jungle, Jurado uses tropical fruits from the region in his cocktails.
On Friday, the restaurant will have a “Let’s Cumbé” night with signature Colombian spirits including the national spirit of Colombia, Cumbé Aguardiente. There will also be appetizer and dinner specials.
Saturday will have a live vinyl DJ, Jean Paul Moreno, from 8 to 11 p.m. and late-night dancing in the dining room.
Brunch on Sunday will include make-your-own mimosas with tropical fruits and spices and giveaways from the Selva market.
“[The year] has passed by in the blink of an eye in some sense,” Jurado said. “Everyday we’re just trying to tighten everything up and fine tune.”
Selva is located at 4137 E. Anaheim St.