When master gardener and chef Marta Teegen and her partner, Robert Stelzner, owners of Cookbook in Echo Park, opened up a companion restaurant last year, we took note.
"With Cortez, we wanted to open a small, neighborhood restaurant focused on the food of the Mediterranean, using the best sustainably grown produce and meats possible," Teegan says. "The space itself is a former tire store—we stripped it down to dirt floors, and then slowly built it back up with the idea of Spanish modern in the back of our minds." The result is a space, which much like their food, is simple and restrained, allowing the basic elements to take center stage.
N.B. Not in LA? I live almost 400 miles away, but Cookbook's weekly newsletter is one of the highlights of my week, not only for the menu, which serves as constant inspiration for what to cook, but also for the weekly poem thoughtfully chosen by Teegan. It always hits the mark.
Photography by Laure Joliet for Remodelista.
Above: Two large communal tables made from solid oak with bentwood chairs anchor the space.
Above: Handmade pottery.
Above: "Lighting was also very important to us", explains Teegan, "we have a small, narrow dining room, and we struggled for many months with how best to light the space. We finally settled on two large chandeliers that occupy most of the ceiling space and cast a wonderful, candle-like warmth throughout."
Above: A bunch of bay laurel hangs on the wall with a pomegranate displayed beneath.
Above: "The overall design is quite spare—a steel storefront, clean white walls, unglazed terracotta tiled floors, with solid oak tables. We specifically chose materials that would weather beautifully over time; our tile floors only get warmer each day, and our oak tables softer and rounder with each use," Teegan says. Bentwood style bar stools with brass footing line the oak counter in the window.
Above: The semi glazed terracotta pot echoes the tiled floor.
Above: On the wall is a hand-felted textile piece from predator-friendly Navajo churro wool by Seattle-based textile designer Ashley Helvey.
Above: Dessert offerings at Cortez.
Above: Bay laurel adorns the brick wall.
Above: The steel store front of Cortez with bay laurel wreath on the door.
See more of our favorite restaurants at Hotels & Lodging