Studio City’s Los Balcones is Boldly Creative, Wildly Exciting, & Tantalizingly Unusual

Los Balcones in Studio City is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of restaurant except that you will return again and again over the course of your life. Immediately after finishing our dinner for two I made a reservation for four for the following week. This Los Balcones is the offspring of Hollywood mainstay Los Balcones, which is known for traditional Peruvian food. There’s nothing traditional about this outpost. The dishes are boldly creative, wildly exciting, and tantalizingly unusual. These dishes cannot be found at the Hollywood location, and they aren’t just hard to find at other Peruvian spots in Los Angeles, they’re positively impossible to find elsewhere.

Brothers Jorge, Eduardo, and Walter Rodriguez opened Los Balcones Del Perú on De Longpre Avenue and Vine in 2004. They began reworking the former Girasol space late last year. Girasol, you might remember, opened in 2013 with former Top Chef contestant CJ Jacobson at the helm.

The menu blends Peruvian, Spanish, assorted Latin American and European flavors, plus elements of Girasol favorites into modern dishes by veteran Girasol chef Polit Castillo, and chef Ricardo Zarate of hotspot Rosaliné. Castillo describes the menu as mestizo, which is Peruvian slang for children with a Spaniard father and Peruvian mother or roughly “mixed-race.”

Many of us were sad to see Girasol go and are relieved its back in this iteration. And it all seemed to happen by simple twist fate, and by that I mean an old school phone call. After Girasol’s closure last year Los Balcones’ owner Jorge Rodriguez called up the Girasol team and asked if they would be interested in combining the flavors of Peru with Girasol. The result is a unique collaboration between two chefs at the top of their game.

The interior hasn’t changed too much. It’s a formal but fun, dimly lit but lively, sleek but comfortable outpost with a cozy neighborhood vibe. Keeping in tune with the menu, the music ranges from countries all over the globe. Immediately upon entry you will be greeted by a charming host and a welcoming staff.

Start, as always, with cocktails. They are Peruvian-inspired and seasonal. The bar uses local distillers and curated a mostly biodynamic organic wine list. We had a Mezcal cocktail not on the menu (yet) called Fire of Peru with passion fruit puree and an orange slice and a Margarita Sofia made with passion fruit, lime, and Huacatay. Both cocktails, while having the stiff and distinct taste of their poisons, were also uncommonly fresh and crisp, more akin to a freshly squeezed, exotic and rejuvenating juice than your standard dive bar drink.

Los Balcones’ menu is full of tantalizing, unusual dishes that are gorgeously presented. The Oysters, with Uni Ponzu, Pop Quinoa, Charred Aji oil, and Garlic chips add an imaginative spin to a classic first course. The uni ponzo adds a bracing citrusy jolt and the garlic chips add a nice counter crunch.

Los Balcones also boasts an excellent Sommelier, Sarah Jones, who offered our table wine pairings with each dish (and later a shot of Peruvian pisco to close out the night). All wines are served from glass wine porrons which is sure to entertain any table. Paired with the oysters and salmon, we had a dry sparkling rosé from the Loire Valley in France. The Louis de Grenelle NV Rosé is a pale pink-colored wine and has a crisp raspberry flavor with a zest of orange squeezed over it. It’s the perfect start to any meal and almost as luxurious and transporting as a breezy summer day.

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