What is part smoke house and part upscale singles bar, with a dash of jazz? Give up? It’s Bandera, a lounge-restaurant that oozes masculinity, from the smell of meats smoking on premises to the smell of the leather booth in which you are sitting. Try to meet someone new and sit at the large, rectangular bar in the center of the restaurant, where you can listen to live music while you catch up on the score of the Dodger game with the rest of the white-collar singles. Or, impress a first date in a cozy booth - the low-lighting, combined with the high prices and delicious food, will work to your advantage. How do I know? Well, let’s just say Bandera is one of the first restaurants my (now) husband ever brought me to.
It’s always fun for us to return to Bandera and relive the early stages of dating. We both still order the same things - the grilled artichoke, smothered in herb butter and served with a tangy mayonnaise, is the perfect starter. It’s a great appetizer for two, especially on a first date. Sharing a dish that you have to eat with your hands works as a great ice breaker, and the tender, slightly charred leaves are so delicious.
For dinner, my husband prefers the French dip - a soft roll filled with juicy, thinly sliced meat, served with horseradish and au jus. It comes with their house cut fries, but they can be substituted for mashed potatoes or the daily vegetable. My favorite dish, on the other hand, is the macho salad. It’s a huge bowl of greens with roasted turkey, dried figs, avocado, and goat cheese, sprinkled with toasted almonds and tossed in their “macho dressing”. The dressing, they warn on their menu, is made with raw, fresh farm eggs - just as their Caesar dressing is made. This is no warning, in my opinion, though. In my opinion, this is why it tastes so wonderful. All of these ingredients come together to form a salad that I have looked forward to ordering every time we have gone to Bandera for the past five years.
Both the beef in the French dip and the turkey in the macho salad, are slow roasted in the restaurant’s vast kitchen. All of their meats are either slow roasted or smoked, so they are filled with a wonderful flavor. Bandera even has its own house-smoked salmon appetizer, which I am sure is delicious, but we are always drawn toward the artichoke.
So, Bandera has great food (albeit at LA prices) and great atmosphere. You may say restaurants like Bandera are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles. Every neighborhood has one (close to my apartment is, indeed, The Brentwood). So, why do my husband and I keep frequenting Bandera? There is one answer for this: the Oreo cookie desert. Creamy vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between crushed Oreo cookies, laying on a bed of espresso-spiked chocolate sauce, and dolloped with fresh whipped cream. This amazing desert is built for two, and is definitely “date food”. I leave you will the following picture, because really, there is no better way to describe it.
Bandera is located at Barrington and Wilshire at 11700 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1503
Phone: (310) 477-3524