You won’t find decadent French toast or overstuffed omelettes on the brunch menu at Echo Park’s Cortez, but what you will find, inspired Mediterranean fare, is quite possibly even better.
Marta Teegan, the owner of nearby green grocer Cookbook, opened Cortez after years of hearing from neighbors and customers that she really ought to have a restaurant. In the spirit of Cookbook, Cortez serves locally grown organic produce, sustainable seafood, and pasture-raised meats. The room is as simple and comfortable as they come.
My brunch-mate Kat and I sipped cava mimosas ($11) to start, a bubbly, zippy reward for enduring the horrendous traffic to get there.
We shared one starter, two mains, and a dessert this afternoon. To start was an unforgettable slab of focaccia with fennel seeds, rosemary, and best of all, juicy pinot grapes ($5). The fennel seeds, with their lingering anise notes, provided an unexpected crunchy contrast.
The eggs could’ve been a bit runnier and the sauce a bit spicier, but man, the flatbread was glorious. Cortez’s baker deserves a raise! Altogether this dish was comforting and tasty.
Hitting a lighter note was the tuna nicoise, a composed salad of green beans, potatoes, and a medium-hard cooked egg ($14). The potatoes, chilled, creamy, and drizzled in olive oil, were the star of the plate.
To finish, a pitch perfect slice of Basque cake ($6), an almond-flour cake done up with a layer of vanilla pastry cream.
Two lil’ meringues were presented with the bill.
Brunching at Cortez offered a splendid diversion from the usual Saturday morning French toast and omelettes. The food was thoughtful and well-prepared, while the ambiance was perfect for catching up with my girlfriend. This place is definitely going in the rotation.
1356 Allison Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026
There’s more excellent eats in Echo Park: