Estrella: Bohemian Eats on the Sunset Strip

‘Top Chef’ contestant Dakota Weiss brings counterculture nostalgia to one of the slickest areas of Los Angeles

Chef Dakota Weiss at Estrella.

Estrella is one of the latest restaurants to open in the competitive Los Angeles restaurant scene. At the helm is Top Chef Season 9 “Cheftestant” Dakota Weiss who, together with partners Alan Nathan and Brett Nestadt, have created a culinary haven in the middle of the busy Sunset Strip.

Estrella was designed as a nostalgic throwback to the Bohemian, bungalow culture that ruled in the Hollywood Hills along Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 1970s. It embodies a place that hippie counterculture types would have surely hung out in, and where music popularized by Joni Mitchell and “Mama” Cass Elliot was playing on the airwaves.

Estrella’s interior boasts open seating, wooden floors, colorful tiles, and vintage accents. Combine this with an outdoor terrace, comfy couches, and a  cozy fireplace, and you might feel as if you are walking into someone’s home — the exact sort of “form follows function” ambiance they were hoping to create. 

This eatery is open all day, seven days a week with offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a “grab-n-go” section. 

Chef Weiss has based her menu on her passion for using ingredients that you might find in your own garden, which is what she grew up with. 

“Everything is made in-house from fresh, organic, and seasonally sourced ingredients,” she says. “There’s no fluff, no words you can’t pronounce—just good cuisine that people crave.”

Weiss learned to “cook with all my senses” (seeing, smelling, and tasting) in culinary hotspots like Santa Fe, New Mexico; Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Prepping and plating in full view of her customers, she not only infuses each dish with flavor but also with a bit of a twist. Her Cobb salad for instance, uses Peking duck in place of chicken, an unexpected but tender and tasty surprise for most.

cobb salad

Ron Stern

Estrella’s menu has something for every appetite with offerings for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner featuring small, shared, and big plates. 

Among her most popular items include the artichoke guacamole with oven dried-heirloom tomatoes and Boursin cheese, as well as the house-made peanut butter and golden Balsamic jam with crushed chocolate-covered peanuts. 

Chef Weiss has taken great care in developing each dish, with taste-tantalizing descriptions such as roasted bone marrow with confit quail, sliced figs and turkey chorizo with pomegranates and mint, and sous vide hanger steak with orange Habanero chimichurri and arugula.

Desserts are equally inviting including the coconut tres leches with Serrano pepper, or lime sorbet with coconut and chia seeds. If chocolate is more to your liking then indulge in her basil dark chocolate pâté with pistachio fritter, crème fraîche, and preserved oranges.”

Having a cocktail on the terrace in front of a warm fireplace was part of the bungalow culture, and at Estrella you can choose from some rather witty libations created by Mixologist Gia St. George. 

In a nod to Joni Mitchell, the Florence Nightingale was inspired by a rumor that Mitchell used this concoction to nurse British singer Graham Nash back to health. This combination cocktail at Estrella uses spiced rum, butter syrup, lime, and nutmeg. 

Not sure if Florence would approve but it would definitely warm you up and be a great ending to a perfect meal on the Strip.