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Restaurant Watch: Highland Park Kitchen to Offer 'Contemporary Tapas'

The tapas restaurant will open its doors on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Restaurateurs have been looking for the recipe for success at 5137 York Blvd. for the last two years--as both Marty's Bar and Cafe Lobos have failed to thrive at the location.

However, Chef Huntley See--who will open Highland Park Kitchen (HPK) at the former Marty's/Lobos location on Wednesday, February 29--is hoping he has all the right ingredients.

As passersby have already noticed, See has installed a window at the front of HPK--giving the restaurant a more open and inviting feel.

See said the menu of contemporary style tapas--including "pomegranate ceviche, carne asada fries and Sliders"--will also invite a steady stream of customers to HPK.

Prices will be in the $10-$30 according to HPK's Facebook page.

Adult beverages, like "the pomegranate mojito, selected wines and draft beers," will also be on HPK's menu.

In an email to Patch, See told us about his history as a Los Angeles chef, his plans for HPK and his attraction to Highland Park.

Patch: What attracted you to Highland Park?  

Hunter See: Rudy Martinez is the owner of HPK, and I was referred to him through mutual friends. He has done so much for this community, and I personally love the area, so it seemed like a perfect fit. We are trying to keep the momentum of Highland Park's changing neighborhood by creating a resturant/bar experience that the locals will love to call their own.

P: What's on the menu?  

HS: We are doing a fun well rounded menu. I would have to describe it as contemporary style tapas, like pomegranate ceviche, carne asada fries, and sliders. We also have great entrees for people that want a little more, like our braised short ribs with garlic potato puree and crispy onion. Our bar program will have specialty cocktails like the pomegranate mojito and the snake eyes martini--which has muddle orange and jalapeno and is shaken with Hendrick's Gin and Sprite. Very fun cocktail. We also have fun tall-boys in brown bags, and Bloody Marys with your choice of beef jerky or celery.

P: When do you expect to open?  

HS: We are currently doing our soft opening now and we are doing a grand opening party next Wednesday, Feb. 29. We are trying to keep it very local and give Highland Park a great place to call their own.

P: What are some other restaurants that you've opened/run?  

HS: I have opened the F&B Program at the Custom Hotel in Marina Del Rey, opened The Office in West Hollywood, and helped open numerous hotels/bars/clubs.

Jason February 22, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Marty's and Cafe Lobos failed in part because they had food that was mediocre at best. The location isn't ideal, either, as the front door is right next to one of the countless auto repair places on York. To me, there's just something slightly odd about walking into a restaurant that's connected to a body shop. I know that's silly, though... Finally, the building itself is very uninviting. The window that HPK installed will help, but it's still not a particularly "friendly"-looking entrance, with that slanted wall next to the wheelchair-access ramp. I'm willing to give HPK a shot, as it does sound like they're trying to be creative with their menu--and I'd love to see more places like this open up on York, perhaps one day replacing some of the auto repair shops.
Bob Bailey February 22, 2012 at 03:41 PM
$10.00-$30.00 in Highland Park good luck.
Jason February 22, 2012 at 04:00 PM
What's wrong with those price levels? That's a range per person for an entire meal + drinks. Seems pretty reasonable to me. The York and Maximiliano are in that range (if not a little higher) and are doing just fine. Also, just to clarify, on another website, See said "Nothing is over $20, including our entrees, and our sig drinks cap off at $10." (That said, after reading some of the reviews of the other places he's been involved with (Tart, Micky's, The Office), my interest in HPK has declined a little...)
sweatywest February 22, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Lobos did set up nice patio out back and window will make a huge difference. The uneven menu and gloomy interior was the main problem at Lobos. Looks like Rudy recognized that - this seems like an improvement.
Riley February 22, 2012 at 06:30 PM
We have some wonderful local breweries here. Eagle Rock Brewery and Golden Road Brewing come to mind. Any chance these will be on the Beer menu? (Copied from my FB comment.)
David Fonseca (Editor) February 22, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Some Facebook commenters had some great follow up questions--so I check in with Huntley See. Here's what he had to say. Melissa asked: Soft opening now? Does that mean we can go try it already? Indeed! "yes, we are open to the public. we are closed mondays, and open the rest of the week for lunch at 11am and dinner at 5pm. on the weekends we do brunch at 9am. " Riley asked: We have some wonderful local breweries here. Eagle Rock Brewery and Golden Road Brewing come to mind. Any chance these will be on the Beer menu? To which Huntley has replied: "We will start to carry more beers, including local beers once we get started. I have already talked to stone brewery and eagle rock brewery about carrying their product." Hope that helps!
Marino February 22, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Are they going to plant a tree or at least put a planter on the sidewalk to compensate for the one they took out last year? It might help with their karma... http://highlandpark.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/wheres-the-tree-rudy/
Carl Showalter February 22, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I miss waltarrrrr's blog.
Paul Jacques February 24, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Window is a great addition. Loved Marty's until it turned into a douchy dance club complete with 300lb. ear-pieced bouncers. Only went to Cafe Lobos once for breakfast but thought it was really great. Bummed that it closed so soon after opening. Hope HPK sticks around for a while and will build a nice little following. HP desperately needs more decent places to eat!
JC John February 25, 2012 at 04:10 PM
They failed because the food sucked.
Linda and Bennie Padilla February 29, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Anything for vegetarians?
V February 29, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Sounds like fun!! Hope they have a champange brunch! that would make most locals stay in the area (speaking for myself) also, $10-$30 is NOT bad at all! Good luck HPK!!!
dot lung March 18, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Hopefully the new owner is less of a douche than the old owner, who is, as far as i can tell, the reason everyone stopped going to Marty's

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