Nowhere in Los Angeles is the Spanish tavern experience more authentic than at El Cid. The cavernous restaurant has it all: Flamenco dancing, tasty tapas, to-die-for sangria by the pitcher and several dining spaces, both indoors and outside. Descend the three flights of stairs into the basement and you’ll find a room where nightly comedy, music and dancing takes place, and the food and drink flow. Climb back up the winding staircase and head out back to the sprawling patio, where hipsters flock during the summer months to sip cool cocktails and chat in comfort.
Built circa 1900 by D.W Griffith, El Cid was originally used to screen his controversial 1915 film, “Birth Of A Nation”.
Late in 1950, the building was converted into a mini theater, featuring plays such as “The Black Pipe”, “Jail House”, and “The Drunkard”. It became a hot-spot for Hollywood types, and that vibe still stands.
In 1961, El Cid Restaurant was born, and the building was converted into an authentic replica of a 16th century Spanish tavern. With gardens, fountains, and patios outside, and invigorating Flamenco dancing inside on Fridays through Sundays, El Cid is the perfect place for a date, with dinner and a show included.
But it’s not just about the dancing, it’s also about the Spanish fusion dining.
During the one-hour Flamenco show, guests enjoy a three-course meal. The gourmet menu features filet mignon, pork tenderloin, filet of halibut, and more. My favorite from the dinner menu is the mouth-watering carne a la chimichurri, filet mignon cooked to order with chimichurri sauce served with roasted garlic butter whipped potatoes and broccolini. The halibut with fresh mango salsa is also a can’t-miss dish, a fresh piece of fish that absorbs the spice of the salsa for a flavorful outcome. Vegetarians can opt for the hearty stuffed pepper vegetariano, a roasted sweet bell pepper stuffed with an assortment of season vegetables sautéed in olive oil and Grand Marnier topped with homemade tomato sauce and manchego cheese served on a bed of saffron rice. Dinner and a show costs just $35.95 per person.
If you simply want to enjoy the atmosphere and take in the Spanish vibe, the patio is your best bet for seating and an array of authentic Spanish tapas is your best bet for food.
I recently went with a group of four, all of whom had a hankering for tapas and sangria. We ordered two pitchers of the red sangria, at $30 each, which kept us sipping all evening. Next we each chose a dish from the tapas menu, starting with the seared beef tenderloin, which was so thinly sliced it practically melted on our tongues. Served with red pepper butter and crumbled gorgonzola, this small plate packs a big punch in the satisfaction department. The chicken empanadas were next on our list, lightly fried pockets of delicious pastry stuffed with creamy salsa. These are particularly good empanadas, not too heavy and perfectly golden brown on the outside. The crab stuffed mushrooms came next and they were gone within three minutes. Overflowing with crab stuffing, the mushrooms were fresh and plump. Call (323)668-0318. Located at 4212 Sunset Blvd.
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