Bar Moruno – Silver Lake – Los Angeles
It might be a tough pill for some to swallow, but when it comes to food, Sunset Junction has been a bit sleepy lately. The neighborhood of Silver Lake within a neighborhood certainly retains its charm, but for every witch kaftan shop there is now a national salad chain and an overpriced drip coffee lab on either side. That’s why the arrival of Bar Moruno is like a breath of fresh air.
The upscale Spanish spot on Sunset Blvd. gave the neighborhood a boost of energy, while providing a fine hangout with great drinks and tapas.
The festive atmosphere of Bar Moruno hits you the second you walk in as the sun sets – you’ll spot friends and colleagues huddled around round wooden tables eating canned fish, sipping dirty martinis and swapping the best drama of the day. There is a walk-in bar which starts popping up at 6.30pm every night. If you’d rather be closer to the action in the kitchen, there’s a counter out back with a great view of the crackling wood-fired oven. The whole place crackles with an electricity fresh from Barcelona which, combined with a colorful design scheme best described as “all the cutest things on the world market” (a compliment!), reminds us that Silver Lake still has this.
To order, we recommend sticking to the small dishes at Bar Moruno. We love the oven-roasted marinated feta, the creamy hen with wild mushrooms served in a sizzling skillet, and a spicy chorizo-stuffed Scotch egg that’s among our favorite bites of the year. There are also seven different conserva boards on the menu, ranging from sardines in olive oil to razor clams in brine. Getting one (they all come with homemade pickles, butter, and thick, chewy Jyan Isaac bread) is the only way to start your meal right here. There’s no shortage of bigger dishes, but there are too many other menu highlights to fill up with half a roast chicken.
As its name suggests, people also came to Bar Moruno simply to drink. To begin with, there is a entire gin martini shelf. The “salmon” (yes, it’s made with real salmon-infused gin) is sure to be the talk of the table, but the best is the “tuxedo,” which has notes of maraschino, wormwood and bitter orange. There are also five different types of G&T, six vermouths, an Old Fashioned made with bourbon washed down with Iberian jamón, and a traveling sherry specialist who perhaps, just maybe will get you addicted to Fino. If nothing else, you and anyone who frequents Sunset Junction will enjoy having a real buzz in the neighborhood.
Mackerel fillets with Minerve spices
Eating quality canned fish in restaurants is still a new thing in Los Angeles, so we’d like to take this moment to say: MORE CANNED FISH IN RESTAURANTS, PLEASE. It’s fun, a bit old-fashioned, and way more interesting than regular table bread. Of course, not all places will have conservation tips as well executed as Bar Moruno, but hey, the more the merrier.
A good egg salad is 90% texture and Bar Moruno gets its 100% version. We also love the nice sour punch of the lime aioli, and while you can definitely taste the Dijon mustard here, it doesn’t overpower the dish.
Most people probably think of hot hummus as a beach picnic faux pas, but Bar Moruno proves it can stand out. Arrived in a hot skillet, the hummus itself is nicely creamy with a slight sumac acidity. But it’s the crispy, smoky chickpeas cooked on top that elevate this dish to a must-have.
Scotch egg with chorizo
On a menu that has no shortage of traditional tapas, this chorizo-wrapped Scottish egg looks a bit like it appeared at the wrong costume party. Order it anyway. With a crisp panko-crusted exterior and a warm, gooey interior filled with spicy green chorizo and a runny egg, it’s an expertly balanced bite of food with layers of flavor.
Setas Con Huevos
It’s no doubt a heavy dish, but it’s also a dish to make room on your table. Served in (another) skillet with succulent hen of the woods mushrooms, a fried egg and tiny bits of fried bread, it’s pure, unadulterated decadence. Yes, you will want a ticket for this ride.
This is one of Bar Morunos’ signature dishes, and although it’s a very solid grilled steak skewer, we recommend saving room for other small plates that catch your eye.
We’ve had the best Basque cheesecake in town, but if you think we’ll ever come to Bar Moruno without ordering it, you’d be wrong. Cheesecake, baby.
Please welcome the newest addition to the pantheon of great LA martinis. This absinthe and maraschino-kissed gin number is smooth, slightly tart (but not sweet). It quickly rose through the ranks of our personal list of Martinis We will cancel previous drinking obligations.