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Indulge In Delicious Farm-To-Table Cuisine At Manuela In DTLA

Manuela's Chill Patio — by Juvi Guevara
Manuela's Chill Patio — by Juvi Guevara

Part artsy, part chic, part industrial, and all local Downtown LA energy. Despite the eclectic nature of the decor, it's actually quite comfortable- if a bit cramped- and the service is attentive and friendly. The menu offers a panic-inducing selection of unique items that vary from cream biscuits with molasses and barbecued oysters with Parmesan, to crisp polenta with Crème Fraîche and venison burgers with fried leeks and garlic aioli. The drinks menu is even bigger with your choice of cocktails, a plethora of wines, and beers on draft and in bottles. And don't forget the coffee and tea, both of which are brewed to perfection. The brunch hour is probably the busiest time to come, so make sure you call ahead and make a reservation. Dinner is no joke, either.

To save you the tedium of reading through superfluous text, let me give you the rundown of my first visit:

CREAM BISCUITS ($10)- Decadent, crumbly bits of heaven with honey butter and mixed berry jam; it is one of their more popular starters to get your meal rolling. They honestly are some of the best biscuits I've ever had. I'm only sad you only get 3 per order.

Cream Biscuit With Honey Butter & Wild Berry Jam — by Juvi Guevara
Cream Biscuit With Honey Butter & Wild Berry Jam — by Juvi Guevara

GRILLED ASPARAGUS ($16)- Made with fresh market vegetables, Burrata, Country Ham Vinegar, and Brown Butter Pecans. Each one of those ingredients is so good, they all deserve capital letters. The balance is perfect to bring it all together in one of the more exciting healthy dishes you'll try.

Market Vegetable Asparagus With Burrata & Pecans — by Juvi Guevara
Market Vegetable Asparagus With Burrata & Pecans — by Juvi Guevara

CRISP POLENTA ($18)- A serving of fried polenta- which is not all that crispy- with a healthy serving of maitake (mushrooms) ragu, fried egg, and Crème Fraîche. A happy mix of indulgence and healthiness, it's a great meal in-and-of-itself.

Crisp Polenta With Maitake Mushroom Ragu — by Juvi Guevara
Crisp Polenta With Maitake Mushroom Ragu — by Juvi Guevara

VENISON BURGER ($21)- A heartier version of your typical beef burger, it comes on a brioche bun with pickled green tomatoes, fried leeks, and garlic aioli. I was afraid it would be too tangy or gamey, but it was actually the perfect medium-rare texture with a mild flavor that brings it all home.

Venison Burger With Garlic Aioli — by Juvi Guevara
Venison Burger With Garlic Aioli — by Juvi Guevara

And, of course, don't forget dessert… Perfectly crispy churros with a Dulce de Leche dipping sauce. If you don't know what those are, they're basically the Mexican version of the doughnut, dusted with brown sugar and cinnamon. And for only $8, you can get this healthy serving, right here.

Churritos With Dulce De Leche Dipping Sauce — by Juvi Guevara
Churritos With Dulce De Leche Dipping Sauce — by Juvi Guevara

I think I have used the word “perfect” and all of its renditions in this review way too many times, but it should give you an idea of the quality of food, service, and ambiance that you will receive on your visit here. The prices are definitely also high and with the necessary valet due to the severe lack of parking in this area, you WILL rack up that bill. Just come prepared and this has the potential to be one pleasant, if not unforgettable, gourmet experience.