Last year, Sebastian Fernandez and Leslie Ames opened 33 Kitchen, a thoughtful take on Peruvian cuisine in a city that’s awash in ceviche. They talked about the Grove’s restaurant evolution during the short walk between 33 Kitchen and Golden Bar, Ames’s local-items-only clothing boutique.
Ames: We do this walk every day—back and forth, back and forth—between the restaurant and the shop.
Fernandez: That’s part of what we love about the Grove, that it’s small enough that we can be close to each other and our home, which is three blocks away. We’ve lived here 15 years, so we’ve seen a lot of changes. Gastronomy-wise, there was a time in the early 2000s when the neighborhood was mostly empty. But now there are reasons for people to come. This is a fun walk now.
Ames: This is one of our favorite places: Bianco. They opened nearly three years ago and make organic gelato. I always get the stracciatella.
Fernandez: We use their ice cream in the restaurant. They made a special one for us with lúcuma, a Peruvian fruit that tastes a little like sweet potato. Look at this: We’re halfway down the block, and we’ve passed six restaurants already. And they’re good ones. Strada in the Grove, Farinelli 1937 . . . three years ago, none of these guys were here.
Ames: Boho, a Greek and Mediterranean place, that just opened.
Fernandez: These guys, Le Bouchon du Grove, have been here forever. They do all the French classics—onion soup, escargot, steamed shallots—but in a relaxed atmosphere. We have good friends who work there. Across the street, Poké 305 is opening. They’ll do modern Hawaiian food with a fast-casual feel. I like that concept.
Ames: Hawaiian, Greek, Italian, Peruvian. You see a variety of restaurants in the Grove now that you didn't before. There’s something for all palates. We go to the Indian place, Bombay Darbar, with the family, or over there to Harry’s Pizzeria. And there’s the Kwik Stop convenience store.
Fernandez: That is such a hidden jewel. Inside the Kwik Stop, there is a little Thai takeout restaurant [Asian Thai Kitchen]. It’s very inexpensive—like $12 for green curry chicken with rice—and it’s unbelievable.
—As told to Evan S. Benn