While restaurants serving brunch are abundant in most parts of Los Angeles, that is not the case in every single neighborhood. Specifically, the southeast L.A. community of Bell. Unless you count Denny’s and Hometown Buffet as viable brunch options, Bell is a bonafide brunch desert. Chefs Eddie Ruiz and Travis Hoffacker of Corazón y Miel saw this deficit in their restaurant’s home city and decided to do something about it.
“I’ve always wanted to have a breakfast spot,” Ruiz says nonchalantly during an early Sunday morning shift, after working every day for the last month and a half after opening Picnik in Pasadena. The developed menu is small -- with only 10 dishes -- though extremely innovative, pulling from Mexican and Salvadoran breakfast classics like tamales and huevos rancheros. These are dishes seen through the eyes of Ruiz, a James Beard Award nominated, American-born chef.
This means that an elote tamal will not be your average steamed masa in a corn leaf, but a rustic cornbread-like wedge baked with creamed corn, corn meal, chile poblano rajas and Oaxacan cheese and then made crispy by pan-roasting in butter. It will be served with a sous-vide egg and whipped sour cream.
Chilaquiles are on the menu of course -- served the correct way, slightly crispy -- and are cooked with wild boar. Ruiz even found a way of working his extremely popular chompipe turkey leg into a comforting brunch item, as a heaping bowl of turkey leg pozole.
For all that, the menu is not entirely Latin-based, with a serious house-cured salmon toast with Brie and their interpretation of biscuits and gravy (made with Picnik’s handmade Duroc pork Mexican chorizo sausage). On the sweet side, there is a capirotada -- French toast served with a maple and fig caramel, pears and Chantilly cream. It is a custard-soaked breakfast version of the traditional Mexican bread pudding consumed during Lent.
On the day-drinking front, there is an assortment of seasonal brunch-themed cocktails by Robin Chopra and Darwin Manahan, drinks such as the Sangria Blanca with pisco, elderflower liqeuer, Cava, rhubarb bitters and fresh berries. Also offered is a house Bloody Mary with carnitas-fat washed mezcal, pickled habanero, chile candy and a crispy chicharron crackling.
With these type of bold and tasty offerings found nowhere else in Los Angeles, the team hopes to sway local residents away from the current local weekend brunch powerhouse Hometown Buffet, and into Corazón y Miel. “We’ll add an omelette bar if we have to,” Hoffacker says jokingly.
6626 Atlantic Ave., Bell, (323) 560-1776, www.corazonymiel.com. Open Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.