Ray Garcia, renowned for his acclaimed Broken Spanish restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, faced the pandemic’s restaurant closures, including his own establishment. Now, just blocks away from the former site of his groundbreaking Mexican eatery, Garcia has returned with a new culinary venture that draws inspiration from South American cooking traditions.
Named Qué Bárbaro, Garcia’s latest creation is nestled in a fresh development near L.A. Live, a hub for sports events like Lakers and Clippers games and the prestigious Grammy Awards. Although the restaurant’s menu draws flavors from diverse corners of South America, its heart lies closer to Garcia’s home. “My wife’s family is from Argentina,” Garcia shared with Eater LA. “I want to tap into that cultural experience and put it in the center of the dining room—bringing lives together.”
Having originally established his culinary presence almost a decade ago, Garcia, with Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria, revolutionized Mexican fine dining by blending his fine culinary training with his own upbringing as a Mexican-American in Los Angeles. Despite the closure of Broken Spanish due to pandemic-related financial pressures, Garcia’s innovative spirit never waned. A residency at Neuehouse and the subsequent opening of Asterid, a California Cuisine-inspired eatery at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, showcased his dedication to culinary creativity. Now, with Qué Bárbaro, Garcia is reintroducing Latin flavors to the vibrant tapestry of Los Angeles.
Taking cues from Argentine open-fire cooking traditions, the restaurant’s menu primarily features an array of meat options, a departure from Garcia’s earlier “King of Porc” accolades. Signature dishes include the tira de asado, a 16 oz. short rib; picahna, a 10 oz. American Wagyu sirloin; bife de lomo, an 8 oz. prime tenderloin; and the costilla gaucha, a substantial 30 oz. bone-in short rib designed for two and accompanied by leaf lettuces, sweet potato, and chimichurri. While meat takes center stage, Qué Bárbaro caters to all palates with offerings such as oyster mushroom with black garlic, prawns with aji Amarillo and pineapple, and half-chicken with roasted shallot and aji verde.
Complementing the culinary offerings is a cocktail program under the guidance of Devon Espinosa, who curates a selection of spirits spanning Latin America, including Colombian aguardientes, Brazilian cachaças, Caribbean rums, and various agave-based beverages. Expect inventive interpretations of classic South American cocktails, like the Pisco Sour and the Caipirinha.
Qué Bárbaro is just one facet of the expansive Level 8 at the Moxy and AC Hotels development, boasting indoor and outdoor spaces that house eight distinct restaurant and bar concepts, including Joel Robuchon alum Hisae Stuck’s shabu shabu restaurant, Lucky Mizu. Additionally, Garcia’s creative flair will extend to Brown Sheep, a fast-casual Mexican-inspired eatery on the terrace, designed to evoke the spirit of a food truck.