When Los Angeles chef Wes Avila stepped away from popular downtown taqueria Guerilla Taco during the pandemic, it wasn’t long before he was raring to get back into the kitchen. Enter Angry Egret Dinette, a buzzy, casual restaurant Avila debuted in 2021, in Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza. It has a rotating menu of tortas, tostadas, and burritos, among other items, that Avila has reimagined with a creative flair. Take for instance, the hamachi ceviche he makes with blood oranges and watermelon. The restaurant hosts full-service dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, and there’s an all-day menu for breakfast and lunch that can be enjoyed in the restaurant’s courtyard.
Avila’s whimsical approach to cooking heavily spotlights fresh produce and spices. He says the restaurant a launch pad for new recipe ideas, inspired by wherever his imagination leads him. His efforts have landed Angry Egret a best new restaurant nomination at the James Beard Awards.
There’s no better time to take a closer look at some of the offerings here. The menu changes regularly—with announcements made on Instagram—but here are three dishes worth seeking out.
Tempura fried squash blossoms, ricotta cheese, salsa china (similar to soy sauce), mixed greens, and a red wine vinaigrette get tucked into an Italian torta in this multilayered dish. Saguaro is a nod to the bright flavors and spices that remind Avila of the eponymous hotel he visited in Palm Springs, plus the dish is vegetarian so Avila feels it’s accessible to more diners. The bread is light, while the ingredients inside provide a balance of crunch, acidity and a hint of sweetness and spice. The Saguaro is just one of several rotating tortas on the menu, including a soft shell crab po boy and the McTorta, a breakfast sandwich with bacon, fried eggs, and American cheese. Avila already established a name for himself with his tacos, but at Angry Egret he’s showing just how creative he can be with bread as well.
This tostada is a whirlwind of flavor and texture: the smoky warmth of the nut-based salsa seca and the tangy spice of salsa macha are balanced by chopped avocado and tender, sliced octopus. The tostada was inspired by the ceviche stalls Avila frequented on a recent trip to Baja, Mexico. Seafood and spices are among Avila’s favorite combination, and aside from the tostada, diners can find that mix in his hamachi ceviche featuring the same couple of salsas as the tostada, avocado, and a vinaigrette featuring agave and lime.
Seabass and Abalone Ceviche
Spicy food lovers will appreciate this bright ceviche, which features seabass and abalone along with an agua chile—the ceviche’s acidic bath—made with yuzu and serrano peppers, served alongside crushed tostada razpada, a tortilla that’s dehydrated and refried.The dish is inspired by Avila’s time working in Carmel by the Sea, where he visited abalone farms. To pump up the crunchy element, Avila also serves the dish with a side of corn tortilla chips. The ceviche tastes slightly different each time, given that Avila uses whatever fish is available on a particular day from his local seafood market.
Kristin Braswell is a journalist and founder of CrushGlobal Travel, a company that customizes travel guides and authentic experiences around the world.