Republique—how does one begin to describe its importance? The legendary French restaurant is a historical landmark at this point, firmly rooted in everything that makes this town great (show business, gorgeous architecture, food, etc.). Like a pop star who only goes by a single name, Republique needs no introduction: you’ll find it on every “Best of” list in the city, a gathering place for fans of history, hungry tourists, and anyone who loves dessert.
Photos by Jakob Layman
When standing in the dining room, a stunning two-story structure on La Brea in Mid City with arched ceilings and rustic wooden tables, the word “breathtaking” will likely come to mind. It’s majestic, like a wild horse or looking straight into the sun. Combined with the propped open windows and provincial street lamps above, eating here feels like being dropped into a bustling French marketplace, located in a village with a charming but difficult to pronounce name. In the past, Charlie Chaplin once called this building home, and quite some time after that, the dining room belonged to one of the city’s landmark restaurants, Campanile (helmed by Nancy Silverton). There’s a history that’s steeped into the walls, a lore you feel whenever you eat here or bite into one of their buttery croissants.
Republique is open for brunch and dinner, although we much prefer brunch. You'll find silky shakshuka, kimchi fried rice, and omelets made with gruyere and finely chopped herbs, as well as a pastry case that makes us feel like a kid in a candy store. The glass case is filled to the brim with kouign amanns, chocolate bombolinis, cake donuts glossed in hot-pink icing, and ube coconut bundt cakes decorated in intricate purple flowers. If you have a hard time choosing, just stick to the mango and passionfruit cream pie, a glistening dessert we’ll happily make our first meal of the day, any day.
Nights are a different story. Dinner at Republique was once a serious dining experience, but now, dinner can best be best described as “fine.” During our last few visits, the service was sluggish if not downright bad: dishes were dropped in the wrong order, some failed to show up at all. Everything tastes too salty; larger dishes like duck breast and short ribs were forgettable. We left with the sense that the focus had shifted to the owners' newest restaurant, Bicyclette in Beverlywood. Which is OK, probably. For now, Bicyclette doesn’t do brunch and we’re still awestruck whenever we walk into Republique’s dining room, an actual architectural wonder.
Although we’re not as hot on their dinner situation as we used to be, we’re still fans of everything Republique represents—an LA time capsule, a cathedral that worships French food. We just prefer it during the day.
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Morning Pastry Case
Staring at the pastry case is as close to being possessed as we’ve ever felt. There are scones, ham and cheese croissants, fluffy basque cheesecakes, buttermilk madeleines injected with oolong, seasonal hand pies, matcha raspberry bundt cakes, and a whole sweet bunch of other things our dentist probably doesn’t want us to ever think about.
Beyond the case, Republique also serves a variety of hot foods at brunch, like the shakshuka—made with roasted tomato sauce that’s at once, tart, sweet, and spicy. The velvety eggs are contrasted by the crispy kale and chickpeas, while fresh mint and a good ol’ dollop of yogurt on top cools everything down. There’s a lot going on here, but it all works together wonderfully, especially with a side of LA’s best baguette.
Baguette With Rodolphe Le Meunier Butter
A glorious mountain of butter, golden yellow and full of jagged edges, is paired with a perfect, crusty baguette. Start your meal with this or be envious of the one on every other table.
Blue Fin Tuna Tartare
This dish feels like a relic from a different time, back when we were happy to pay $24 for a bite of food so long as it had some caviar. Not necessarily bad, but not worth the high price point.
Earth Crafted Garden Baby Lettuces
Ah, nothing like a salad crafted by the earth… an absolutely average little gem salad that we absolutely order every time we’re here.
We change our minds about this pasta every time we eat it. Sometimes it’s a revelation, others, the lobster is hard and rubbery. Order at your own risk.
Butternut Squash Agnolotti
If you can manage to look past the high salt levels—seriously, heavy is the hand that cooks this dish—you might actually enjoy the agnolotti. The pinched pillow squares are filled with creamy, sweet squash which go well with the brown butter sauce.
Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib
This dish is clunky, almost oaf-ish. We much prefer the one served at Bicyclette, which comes with a beautiful potato mousseline.
Cheese plate, we love you. This is the perfect dessert—a little sweet, from the honeycomb and jams, salty from the rotating list of cheeses.