As outdoor dining reopens and local restaurants begin the road to recovery the Daily Press is highlighting one excellent eatery a week.
This week the spotlight is on Cult: an all-day restaurant, cafe, and bar paying homage to the latest and greatest Californian culinary phenomena in a prime Promenade location.
Situated on the corner of 3rd Street and Broadway, Cult looks like a classic French bistro fell in love with a cheeky beach bar. The dining room’s plush emerald booths rest on a checkered marble floor while leafy plants and beaded chandeliers dangle from the ceiling.
The new restaurant comes from part of the team behind Lanea and The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen, and casts itself as a cosy neighborhood joint with a sun drenched patio and artsy interior that caters to both locals and tourists.
The menu centers on the concept of ‘cult classics’, serving West Coast foods and drinks that launched trends, cultivated crowds, and revolutionized culinary concepts.
“Cult classics are films that have this rabid following and I thought to myself, you know, the same thing happens in food,” said Chef Kim Vu. “People wait in line for hours at Howlin’ Ray’s hot chicken and the Father’s Office burger started a gourmet burger trend in LA that extended across the entire nation.”
From avocado toast to lavender lattes, Cult collects all of California’s fashionable fare under one roof and has a bit of something for everyone. There is an emphasis on fresh farmers market ingredients and the menu will frequently evolve with trends and seasons.
“The unique selling proposition here is that we have all of these beloved dishes and it’s our own take on it,” said Vu. “When Santa Monicans have a craving for hot chicken, they don’t have to drive all the way to Downtown or Echo Park and stand in line for two hours. They can just come right here.”
The restaurant also places strong emphasis on iconic beverages and offers a range of carefully crafted coffees and cocktails.
The coffee offerings are created with much love by caffeine connoisseur Lenitas Enriquez, who comes from Menotti’s Coffee Stop in Venice and seeks to build a new Cafe community out of Cult.
“I moved a lot as a kid; I went to 11 schools and lived in over 30 different homes, so the most stable thing in my life turned out to be the coffee community,” said Lenitas Enriquez, head of the coffee program. “I’ve been serving coffee since I was 17 years old and love it so much. I’ve truly known my customers for years and built so many longtime friends and connections.”
Drinks from Cult’s ‘3rd wave’ coffee program aren’t designed to be grabbed and chugged, but cradled and savored. Top quality beans from Sey Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn are paired with dairy, oat, or nut milks and mixed with Enriquez’s homemade aromatic syrups.
“3rd wave coffee is taking the time to appreciate every aspect that goes into making coffee from the moment it’s harvested, to when it’s processed, to when it’s roasted, to when it gets into the hands of the barista,” said Enriquez.
The bar menu was designed by John Neumueller and Connor McRaith and features SoCal classics like spicy margaritas and fresh mimosas. Cult also incorporated Lanea’s highly popularly canned drink program, so customers can enjoy a fresh cocktail from the comfort of their home.
Aside from the flavor the best part of the cocktails is the affordability. The majority of Cult’s bar beverages cost less than $10 and the restaurant offers a four for $20 deal on take-out canned drinks.
“We want to be super mindful of how no one has a lot of money at the moment. So many people are out of work, or working part time, or they are on furlough, so we’re trying to offer amazing cocktails and make them accessible,” said Operations Manager Libby Russell.
Cult is open for brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks Tuesday through Sunday. Customers are welcome to wine and dine on the spacious Third Street Promenade patio or take food and beverages to-go.