With a subdued, all-white brick exterior, you might walk past this Peruvian spot in Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction a few times before noticing. But keep a look out, because behind that facade is one of Silver Lake’s better spots for a high-energy dinner.
Causita is from the same chef behind Rosaliné, a solid Peruvian restaurant in Weho that still pulls in schoomzy crowds who are there to eat seafood and network. The overlap between the two spots is strong. The large, all-white dining room at Causita is filled most nights with groups of friends toasting to someone’s pilot getting picked up, the bar is at capacity by 5:30pm, and if you’re looking to dine al fresco, there’s a hidden open-air patio in the back. A quiet, intimate dining space this is not. Causita is loud, crowded, and full of people who like it that way.
The menu here primarily riffs on Nikkei Peruvian, a cuisine that’s the product of Japanese immigrants influencing traditional Peruvian food over the last couple hundred years. You’ll find dishes like lobster-filled dumplings with aioli, grilled octopus topped with goat cheese mousse, and a few ceviches and other raw seafood dishes. In general, the smaller dishes at Causita tend to be a bit clunky, as they’re often bogged down by various sauces and dressings that conflict in flavor. This is less of a problem on the “grande” section of the menu, which is where you should focus most of your ordering. Standouts entrees include chewy udon noodles served into a lush Peruvian pesto, and a crispy rice dish that arrives on a sizzling skillet topped with a scoop of chilled steak tartare (the whole dish is mixed together tableside).
There’s also a long list of cocktails with attention-grabbing ingredients like negronis made with Japanese gin and wasabi, or the Nikkei Highball made with purple corn soda and shochu. Unfortunately, these all tend to be pretty sweet—and not very complementary to the flavors in the food. Instead, stick to the excellent wine list, composed mostly of wines from North and South America, and the handful of sakes by the glass, which have enough range to pair with everything on the menu.
Causita is a mix of highs and lows overall, but if you come in knowing which dishes to prioritize, it'll all add up to a fun night out.
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Nigiri Causita Nikkei
Served on thin boat-shaped cucumber slices with a square of mashed Peruvian potatoes, this four-bite nigiri sampler platter includes fatty bluefin tuna, sea bass, salmon, and a vegetarian tomato option. It’s a unique and delicious combination of textures, but our qualm is that a $20 order only gets you one bite of each, which makes this a difficult dish to split with another person.
This is a very nice ceviche filled with generous chunks of fresh sea bass, shrimp and scallop, but it’s thrown off by the heap of hard-fried calamari on top, which overpowers the dish and adds an unpleasant heaviness. We recommend going for the bluefin otoro tiradito instead.
If we were to judge this dish on the octopus alone, it would be a smash hit. The meat itself is tender, yet still produces a little snap with each bite. The issue here is there’s too much else going on, like a goat cheese-chorizo mousse and citrusy aioli which overcomplicate what is an otherwise well-executed dish.
A nod to the traditional Peruvian dish tallarin verde, this pasta dish tosses Japanese wheat noodles in a rich pesto made with garlic, spinach, and basil. We love the warm and jiggly noodles, which slowly absorb the salty onion jus that pools at the bottom of the dish.
This is another must-order from Causita’s “grande” section. Cooked in a mushroom-coffee jus and wrapped inside a banana leaf with nutty choclo corn, the tamal is light and citrusy, with a touch of bitterness from the coffee. We only wish the portion were bigger—it vanishes too quickly.
Our favorite dish at Causita, full stop. With a true Benihana flourish, the rice is mixed tableside in a sizzling skillet with cold steak tartare (that cooks as you eat it), egg yolk, and parmesan sauce. It makes for a dramatic ending to a meal at Causita.