Why nothing beats the Greek salad at Mandolin DTLA
Serving the best of Greek and Turkish cuisines, the restaurant blends a fine dining experience with a Mediterranean family atmosphere
Friday 12 August 2022 By Anastasiia Fedorova
If you order one dish at Mandolin Taverna in the heart of Downtown LA, make it the Village salad. ‘It is definitely one of the most ordered items on the menu, and true to the classic recipe,’ says Kevin Wallace, who manages the newly opened restaurant. ‘The ingredients we use are just so fresh; the tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions look great mixed together and topped up with a big block of feta cheese. It’s wonderful to see the reaction from our guests when we place our version of the Greek staple in front of them.’
Wallace explains that the menu, which stems from the flagship Mandolin Aegean Bistro (with the additions of wood oven flatbreads curated by Miami's executive chef Tony Galleno), is designed to invite guests from ‘all walks of life’. The dishes are simple yet complex in flavour, and as he mentions, fresh produce is always key. ‘For vegetables, high-end meats and fish, we work with great local vendors and farmers’ markets. We are also very lucky to source Greek and Turkish spices, which can be hard to come by,’ he says. Still, every table in the restaurant – which first welcomed guests in May this year – is adorned with a Greek Kalas sea salt and a small tin can of Turkish olive oil.
What makes Mandolin Taverna’s Village salad so popular is that it strikes the perfect balance between crunchy and soft in texture. It also avoids the common overload on salt and acidity associated with the dish. As for the feta, Wallace insists you’ll be requesting more of where it came from as soon as you take your first bite.
Adjacent to Soho Warehouse in DTLA, Mandolin Taverna is the first Los Angeles outpost of Miami’s much-loved Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Couple Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya opened the first branch in Miami’s Design District in 2009, with a vision to recreate the atmosphere of the Mediterranean, and celebrate their own respective Greek and Turkish heritages through traditional food.
An opening in Los Angeles felt like a natural next step, given the locals’ love of farmers’ markets and fresh produce. ‘We really want people to be able to come in here and have a dining experience like you would in a house if you had a Greek or a Turkish family member and they were cooking dinner for you,’ says Wallace. Inside the Mandolin Taverna, large ceramic vases and olive urns sourced from LA’s legendary flea markets and vintage collectors fill the restaurant. The outdoor dining space (which comes alive at night when the lanterns and fairy lights are lit), is full of greenery, resembling the little villages the owners’ call home.
The signature Village salad aside, there are plenty of other offerings worth trying: the grilled octopus (marinated for 24 hours), grilled prawns and Kefte, sirloin meatballs served with tzatziki, are highlights from the menu. So is the chef’s selection of mezes, while carb lovers will enjoy the lahmacun and zucchini flatbreads.
You also won’t want to miss out on the manti dumplings made with minced beef and tossed in garlic yoghurt, Aleppo pepper, and burnt butter. As for drinks, order the Mandolin Margarita or the Karpouzi, which blends watermelon, mint and Prosecco, or take your pick of the restaurant’s selection of organic and natural wines.
If that wasn’t enough, the restaurant will be launching Mrs. Mandolin, its very own in-house lifestyle boutique, in September. The store, located in the garden area of the Mandolin, will sell everything from homeware to accessories and pantry staples imported from Greece and Turkey. So, if you’re a fan of handcrafted clay amphoras and authentic olive oils, you know where to go.
Throughout August, stop by the Mandolin Taverna to enjoy a complimentary meze and drink on us. Members can also get 20% off from Sunday to Wednesday, with up to three guests. Explore the Mandolin DTLA menu and book here.