DTLA: Everything You Need to Know about Dama’s Latin-Inspired Food and Drinks in the Fashion District
Dama opened two months ago in the Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). The food is from Top Chef Antonia Lofaso. Anyone who knows me knows I love her restaurant Scopa in Venice. Anytime I’m on the Westside, I’m there at the bar. I have been waiting for Dama to open for years now. I’m dangerously close to this gorgeous Latin-inspired restaurant.
I have been several times trying to eat and drink everything on the menu. I’m about 2/3 in and hope to finish the rest of the menu by next week! But until then, here’s almost every single drink on the menu plus most of the food!
The bread with heirloom tomatoes is such a generous portion. This is perfect for a group of four or more.
I have a special fondness for pina coladas. I find them delightful and a well made one evokes not only a tropical adventure but a tropical adventure anywhere you happened to be! Bring on the vacation.
Pina Colada – rum, coconut, pineapple
The bocadillo (sandwich) with crispy black calamari is great as a snack or an appetizer before a main course. I shared this but wouldn’t have minded having it all by myself as it’s probably a 5-6 bites sandwich.
Already a best seller, the Sandia y Mezcal is exactly what it’s named- great watermelon juice and mezcal.
Sandia y Mezcal – mezcal, watermelon, citrus, pepper, salt
When I ordered the whipped beans, I was delighted to find crispy bits of pork as well. This is like hummus but on crack.
Besides pina coladas, I really love batidas. At Dama, they have a beautiful banana one.
Batida de Banana – cachaca, banana, coconut, lime, bitters
I have now ordered the tostada several times even though I should be trying new dishes. It’s just a really great ceviche of fresh shrimp, squid and served with tostadas and saltine crackers.
Yes, I like daiquiris and have gotten used to the non-frozen kind the last few years. It is however very fun to have a frozen one that’s made with quality rum! You can also add strawberry to the frozen daiquiri for a fun variation.
The beef empanadas are made with steak trimmings so the quality of the beef is very superior.
Do you talk to your soft shell crab? Well, I do. I said to my taco, “I will eatttttt youuuuuu.” Yeah, okay, maybe I didn’t say it out loud but I certainly enjoyed the soft shell crab.
I love drinks with egg whites. This rum sour variation with raspberry was fantastic.
September Morn – rum, dry vermouth, raspberry, egg white, lime, bitters
I’m a bit of a guacamole snob so the only thing I’d suggest for Dama’s is a little more citrus and salt. I solved this problem with some lime. But otherwise, it’s a good portion and no one is going to say no to guac.
The Cock and Bull Special was invented in Los Angeles so I had to have a LA cocktail! It combines bourbon and brandy along with Benedictine. Savor it as it slowly dilutes. It’s perfect with every sip as your evening gets more mellow.
Cock and Bull Special – bourbon, Armagnac, Benedictine, orange liqueur
One night I asked for a drink with pisco and got two! Dama actually has a cocktail list of over 700 drinks which you would never know from the short one-pager. So ask for a drink with your booze of choice and be prepared to answer a couple of questions to get your perfect drink. For pisco, I tried the Captain’s Cocktail and Stone Fence.
Stone Fence– Capurro pisco, honey crisp apple, cane syrup
Captain’s Cocktail – Capurro pisco, vermouth rosso
Baby bone luge. Just do it! After you scrape out the good stuff, be sure to chase down the tasty bits with sherry or your booze of choice.
Dama has all of the sherries, of course. I opted for Amontillado for my bone marrow luge.
The Adonis is good drink to have while eating. The sherry based drink went well with both seafood and the heavier meaty dishes.
Adonis – sherry, vermouth rosso, bitters
Seafood’s my favorite so I enjoyed the chorizo and clams. The broth was a little on the sweeter side and we sopped it all up with the deliciously buttered bread.
There was a time when I tried Manhattans with various spirits. Rum is always a good one. And this Fair and Warmer is a nice spin on the theme.
Fair and Warmer – rum, orange liqueur, punt e mes
You can order as many tacos as you want. We’ve gotten two each time (so would that be four?). They come generously with avocado and pickled veggies. I will have to try it with the special hot sauce one day though. I found them plenty spicy with just the hot chile peppers.
After trying more than 10 drinks on the menu, my current favorite is the Presidente. It’s so lovely and I think ideal for every mood. It’s a bit floral but also packs a velvet-gloved punch. The Cider Punch is a good one to have while eating all the delicious food at Dama.
Presidente – rum, vermouth blanc, orange liqueur, grenadine
Cider Punch – cognac, maraschino, apple juice, orange liqueur, sparkling wine
And if you’re tired of cocktails (how could you be, though?), try the Pet Mex from Bichi. It’s a play on Pet Nat. If you like rose wine, this is a good one to try particularly with heavier dishes.
I’ve tried most of the appetizers and small plates so it’s time to start tackling the large format entrees. I went with the pork shank. The first night I was at Dama, I kept smelling this delicious pork from across the bar. I’m glad I finally ordered it a couple of weeks ago. I’m still dreaming of it. I loved that it came with plenty of tortillas as well as lettuce so you can play with it as tacos or low-carb tacos.
I also really love the corn. I’ve also gotten this twice now and it just gets better every time. This is also good for a group of four.
Dama’s beverage program is the brainchild of Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix. Pablo in particular has spent a lot of time selecting barrels of booze from around the world. We tried bourbon, Armagnac and cognac. I like all of them but particulary the Weller. I was into the calvados as well.
Special spot light on the Four Roses single barrel for Dama which is also used in their old fashioned.
Of the desserts, I’ve only tried the peanut butter cookie is so pillow-y soft with peanut butter cream. This is the perfect dessert if you just want a little something that’s sweet.
Now back to Dama where I will try more food and drinks! I hope they open for lunch soon. Then I’ll never leave.
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