LAReview

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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8.0

Colibrí

This spot is Permanently Closed.

Peruvian

Hollywood

$$$$Perfect For:Pre-Theater EatsEating At The Bar
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Colibrí does not hide the fact that it’s a pop-up. This Hollywood Peruvian spot put the word right in its domain name, and the waitstaff will quickly tell you the place is a year-long residency to test out the chef’s dishes for a separate restaurant in the future. This could be an interesting proposition to some, while others—particularly those burned out by all those tacky Star Wars/Stranger Things-themed “Hollywood pop-ups” of years past—might be tempted to just wait for the fully realized restaurant. And to those people, we say that would be a mistake. 

Because while this version of Colibrí might be a trial run of sorts, right now there’s enough good food, strong cocktails, and cozy neighborhood energy going on to warrant a visit. 

Colibrí took over the Los Balcones Del Peru space on Vine, an old Peruvian standby with an absolutely prime central location. It’s directly across the street from the Netflix campus, walking distance to every major theater and music venue, and a block from the Cineramadome (OK, yes, it’s still closed, but we’re putting out good energy!). All of that means Colibrí is naturally set up to be a casual pre-event dinner spot, and that’s exactly how you should use it. 

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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Around 6pm most nights, the warm, rustic dining room fills up with coworkers drinking pisco sours and passion fruit caipirinhas, midweek dates sharing hearty corn and potato-filled ceviches, and groups of friends eating lomo saltado and beer braised short rib before a show at Palladium. Yes, there are a few eye-rolling design touches here (alas, more neon signs and hanging vines), but overall, this place has charm. Plus, in a part of town where restaurants tend to be either extremely high-end or order-at-the-counter chains, Colibrí strikes a much-needed middle ground. 

At some of his past restaurants, Ricardo Zarate—the chef at Colibrí—has focused on Nikkei-style dishes and modern twists to Peruvian cooking, but here, it’s all about traditional classics. The menu at Colibrí is mostly made up of dishes that taste as if they came out of someone’s home kitchen. Think beef tamales, tallerines rojos, a ragu-based pasta topped with crispy chicken thigh and cheese sauce, and briny squid ink rice stacked with shrimp, scallop, and crispy calamari that was the highlight of our night. We understand the urge to wait for the main event, but although Colibrí might technically be a pop-up, it’s clear the show’s already in full swing.

Food Rundown

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Arroz Con Mariscos

This is our favorite dish at Colibrí. The brininess of the squid ink rice is balanced with buttery shrimp and scallops, but the real secret sauce (OK, it’s squiggled quite visibly on top) is the smoked rocoto aioli. It’s spicy and garlicky, and the reason why your table will be fighting over the last bite.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Ceviche Classico

There are a lot of fine ceviches in LA. Like, a lot a lot. But this one is up there with the best, and proof that a great version doesn’t need a bunch of bells and whistles: Plump, meaty chunks of sea bass, tender Peruvian corn kernels, cinnamony sweet potato, and a bright, citrusy leche de tigre.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Cesar's Verde

If you’re one of those people who will travel for a great caesar salad (we sure are), put on your walking boots and go try this one. It’s simple—fresh greens, creamy dressing, and a mountain of shaved parmesan—but the balance of ingredients is just right, and the popped quinoa sprinkled on top gives an extra crunch.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Tallarines Rojo

This ragu-based tagliatelle pasta with chicken and cheese sauce is the kind of dish we want served to us while curled up on the couch home sick from school. But we’ll also happily eat it after work, on a date, or for any other reason we’re at Colibrí.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Charred Snap Peas

There are quite a few heavy dishes at Colibrí, so this dish is a good item to order for balance. The peas have a nice smoky crunch, which goes well with the spicy aji amarillo labneh.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Beef Tamal

This is served as a deconstructed tamal and probably the only miss on the menu. The beef is a little dry and the warm, moist richness you want from a tamal never really materializes, as if the ingredients haven’t had time to get to know each other.

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Fried Churro Balls

This dessert is small and effective, which is a positive if you're planning on going to a show or other semi-physical activity afterward. These bite-size churro balls have a not-so-subtle caramel center—pop one for the road and go dance somewhere.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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