Cortez in Echo Park is serving fresh farm-to-table family style Mediterranean food. Their approach is simple: Good food sourced really close by and prepared with love. The lunch menu is not exploding with options. A prosciutto baguette, two salads, a quiche, chicken kebabs and a couple of desserts are pretty much all you will find (Cortez’s dinner menu is probably 3x larger).
When I arrived, they were already sold out of the chicken kebabs in yogurt sauce. The carnivore in me wanted to head elsewhere, but I stuck it through and ordered their wheat berry salad (pictured above) and spinach/feta quiche (below). Neither item is something I would ever choose to anchor my lunch, but I was not let down. Wheat berries, spring onions, pine nuts, dandelions and currants was a pleasant surprise and a pretty hefty portion for just one person. The flavors were fresh, earthy, sweet and ripe. Every bite just seemed as if each ingredient was taken from the earth at the peak of its edibility. The quiche was by no means hot right out of the oven, (not a problem for me…I am in love with food at room temperature) the crust was flakey and crisp without a trace of sogginess. The creamy sharp feta flavors accompanied the wilted spinach perfectly. I was impressed, and I am by no means a quiche guy!
Cortez feels like your moms kitchen if your mom was an amazing cook who knew all about sourcing the best possible ingredients to whip up simple and fresh Mediterranean fare. Everything is meant to share which can always go here or there depending upon your personality at the lunch table. All in all, Cortez is a beautiful, clean and quaint spot to dine on some of the freshest food in the city. If you join their mailing list, the owners are constantly featuring new dishes inspired by what is currently being sold at your local LA farmers market. So expect their menu to change with the season.
The lemon-clove cake was a slice of heaven. I love it when the insides of a good fresh cake are soggy and moist but still thick with a whole lot of texture. With a mixture like lemon and clove, I was expecting the cake to be less like dessert and more like spiced bread, but it definitely tickled the sweet tooth. And my macchiato brewed with Sightglass espresso…Superb!
If you are still wishy-washy about just how fresh Cortez’s meat and produce are, they have a small market not too far away on Echo Park Blvd. called Cookbook. Check it out and everything will make much more sense. Cortez cares about what you eat and where the food you eat once called home.