For small plates in the DTLA scene, The Gorbals is the place to go. Located in the historic Alexandria hotel at 5th and Spring Streets in Downtown LA, The Gorbals features delicious gourmet small plates along with very daring cocktails. Their cocktail menu touts the delightfully understated headline, “Fancy Drinks.” Go bold with “Neon Knives,” a blend of mescal, cynar, chartreuse, and orange-rhubarb bitters. Or mellow and citrus with “It's bourbon, honey” with Heaven Hill Bourbon. Orange Blossom Honey, Angostura, and Lemon Fizz. I was particularly taken with “It's just adultery,” which blended smoked porter with agave, hibiscus, thyme, and bourbon. Each flavor stood out on its own while simultaneously blending with the others. It is definitely in my Top 10 Cocktails list.
The menu options are quick to arrive, easy to share, and satisfying. The food menu is divided into plates “small,” “medium,” “large,” and the “Very Large” (which require 24 hours notice by phone). The tomato fries with Thai basil and cilantro aioli are a must, as are the latkes. It's a rotating menu, so there are always new things to try. Unfortunately, that also means your favorites may take a vacation from the menu for awhile. But do make an attempt to visit the restaurant when they are serving their trio of smoked cucumbers. I never knew cucumber could be smoked, and that plate was like a revelation. If you have a large party reservation, be bold and call a day ahead to order the Very Large pig head with seasonal garnishes or the whole bone roasted tenderloin. The Gorbals has a chic yet casual vibe; the dining room has a mix of small two-person tables, church-pew benches lining the walls, and long wooden tables for large parties or multiples. Edison lights swing from the ceiling as ambient pop music adds to the atmosphere. Bar seating is available as well, where a respectable selection of drafts are available, including Stone Smoked Porter, Smog City IPA, Ommegang Hennipin Saison, and Black Market Imperial Red, as well as whines of the red, white, rose, and sparkling variety.
216 5th Street
Los Angeles, California 90013
By Lauren Eggert-Crowe