A guide to Roastery Del Sur’s menu with Chef Mario Tolentino
We sat down with Executive Chef, Mario, to talk about his top things to eat in LA. With twenty plus years of experience (not to mention his time spent in Michelin star-rated kitchens), his expertise in California farm to table shines at Roastery Del Sur. Read below to learn more about the concept and menu development as well as his top five things to eat off the menu.
1. Breakfast Sandwich
When Chef Mario sat down to concept the Roastery Del Sur menu, his top goal was to come out of the gate strong with a memorable breakfast sandwich. Knowing all the competition of things to eat in LA, his sandwich creation had to go beyond just being delicious...it had to be visually appealing in a city known for Instagram foodies. Second must? This epic sandwich couldn’t debut without its best friend, the hash brown. “When you’re looking for things to eat in LA and land on an egg sandwich, you’re always wanting to add that hashbrown side. I included the tasty companion into this sandwich assembly to keep ours ready-to-go...like a mobile breakfast.” Featuring an “everything spice” potato flake encrusted hash brown (all the goodies like onion, garlic, sesame, poppy…) with Superba bread hugging a pastured egg with gooey, melted sharp cheddar cheese make this sandwich the #1 selling menu item. If you could ever taste the love and dedication put into a creation, it’s this breakfast sandwich. “I'm proudest of this...we were figuring it out up until 2-3 days before we opened. I was working on it, tweaking it until it was absolutely perfect. I wasn’t going to let it go.” Mario warns that this breakfast sandwich will “blow your mind” so consider yourself informed.
2. Banana Sesame Pancake
Looking for things to eat in LA but you’re more of a sweet-seeker? This stand-out pancake rides the line between savory and sweet, able to play into your sweet tooth craving without being obnoxiously sweet. When developing the Banana Sesame Pancake, Mario kept asking himself, “how can I make a pancake interesting?” He knew it had to have legs, and not rely too heavily on passing pancake trends. Forging his own pancake path, Mario tapped into a different flavor profile merging black sesame and banana. Built on a batter utilizing cornmeal and tahini, fluffy egg whites are gently folded in, giving a little nod to Japanese-style souffle pancakes’ cloud-like qualities. The savory profile of sesame with the caramel flavors of roasted banana are threaded together with a side of Verve Coffee Roasters’ coffee-infused maple syrup. This edible art piece is topped with freshly whipped mascarpone, poached seasonal berries and garnished with a special seed and nut mix for added texture. Some say it’s too pretty to eat...for the hesitant ones, we recommend taking a picture to capture the beauty, then diving right in.
3. BLAT Sandwich
“There’s a new wave happening in the food scene; meat-alternatives. It’s hot right now and there’s a lot of buzz around it.” Mario wanted to create something for vegan and vegetarians looking for things to eat in LA. He knew they’d be super stoked to find the BLAT sandwich. “The BLAT is like you’re eating nature. It’s not processed, it’s not made in a factory...that other stuff is just not healthy or made with any love.” With so many things to eat in LA, it was a true challenge to create a comparable sandwich to its meat-based counterpart. Developing a delicious vegan sandwich was not an easy task but Mario was dedicated to seeing it through. After doing a quick mental re-count, he landed on twelve iterations of the BLAT. “I tried mushrooms, celery root, sauerkraut...I explored different ways of preparations...like French dip style.” It wasn’t until running through the long list of meat-alternative potentials that Mario landed on beets, adding that he was initially opposed to them, feeling like it was a cop-out. But in the end, beets were the best and clearly out-shined the other meat-free options. Mimicking a traditional pastrami sandwich, the beets are braised in traditional spices, sliced thick, crusted in the same spices, then seared until they develop a bacon-like texture with pastrami-like flavor notes. The BLAT is another exceptional Roastery Del Sur menu item with clean eating at its core concept. The beets hit the mark with instantly recognizable pastrami flavors and textures. Chalk one up as a win for beets everywhere!
4. Coconut Chia Pudding
Have you ever gone on a one-dish eating bender? Making the same thing for every [insert breakfast, lunch or dinner time] because you just can’t seem to get enough of it? Well, you’d be in the same camp as Mario. He was straight-up bewitched by chia pudding. “For months, I was literally eating it every day for breakfast. I was obsessed.” Under the chia’s spell, Mario set out to create a visually-striking (and elevated) chia pudding experience. “I wanted to transform this traditionally grab and go item into a restaurant-quality dish.” Elevating a basic chia pudding recipe was the target, opting for something unique that wasn’t a monotone texture or flavor profile. “I wasn’t going to do that basic chia pudding plus fruit combo.” He mentions it was also very important to make sure this was one of the things to eat in LA that were completely dairy-free. This vegan-friendly chia pudding doesn’t contain conventional yogurt as the chia binder but utilizes “cocoyo” (coconut-based yogurt) as the creamy base. Light and foamy coconut yogurt give an airy mouthfeel that pushes the limits of what a coconut chia pudding can be. Topping off this stunning dish are the thoughtful additions of granola, nut and seed mix with edible flowers. We can all thank Mario for developing this extraordinary dish as a result of his chia-obsession period.
5. Heirloom Tomato Salad
Rounding out our guide of the things to eat in LA is the Heirloom Tomato Salad. If you’re strolling through the local farmer’s market right now, you’re likely going to see heirloom tomatoes stacked high right alongside perfectly ripe stone fruits followed by peppers at their peak. If there was ever a salad that captured the essence and seasonality of a farmer’s market, it would have to be this striking dish. “Every single ingredient in this salad is seasonal. We’re seeking out everything the current harvest has to offer. But like the seasons, this dish will change.” Mario matched the juiciness of heirloom tomatoes and stone fruits with seared halloumi cheese drizzled with hot pepper water vinaigrette to keep each bite better than the last. You’ll have to get to Roastery Del Sur STAT to enjoy this final pick of things to eat in LA because once these ingredients are gone from the market, the Heirloom Tomato Salad will fall off the menu.
We hope you enjoyed this helpful guide of things to eat in LA! With a focus on sustainable and seasonal ingredients, you’ll experience the very best offerings from the local farmer’s market. Stop in to see the latest dishes Mario’s dreamt up at Roastery Del Sur.