The goods: Bernard Matz, executive chef from The Café at Books & Books, brings his culinary expertise a bit further west with Bernie’s L.A. Café, a spanking new little spot that occupies the storefront just south of the Starbucks at 16th and Alton Road.
Ambience: The place consists of about ten tables and a counter, with blond wood paneling from floor to ceiling, the only decoration being a few bottles of wine lining the walls. The windows do offer a great view of all the action on Alton Road, although that action mainly consists of the occasional fender bender.
The grub: A greatest hits of Latin American cuisine: Pan con Lechón, Havana Cheesesteak, Foot-Long Choripan (a grilled Argentinean sausage sandwich) along with ceviches, seafood cocktails, fajitas and quesadillas. For heavier fare they offer “Platos Fuertes” with stand-outs like the Shredded Flank Steak (classic Ropa Vieja) and a pan-fried grouper with a coconut sauce.
Most dishes are made with organic ingredients (where available), whole wheat products and are freshly made to order. Try entrée-worthy salads like the Tropical salad with black beans, fresh mango, avocado and bleu cheese layered on a bed of field greens doused in a light vinaigrette dressing. The tacos are crowd favorites, the grilled chorizo taco piles firm pieces of pork sausage and chipotle yogurt on top of two layers of grilled corn tortillas – the double layers to prevent mushiness.
Most items are under $11 and can be an entire meal, but the platos fuertes range $16-$19. The true beauty of Bernie’s (aside from the eats) is that they deliver anywhere on the Beach south of 41st Street. Not bad.
The verdict: Fresh food, decent prices, and Latin favorites – Bernie’s can deliver.