Every once in a while, when work puts us through the grinder, we’d sometimes screw up the dates of an important anniversary or a dinner party. In my case, it was a long-awaited tasting at California Republic, a SoCal restaurant and bar along Amoy Street that has received largely positive reviews since opening in April.
“I’m here for a media tasting,” I announce as I enter the intimate shophouse space, decked in retro-looking wood veneer walls with floorboards to match. Upbeat funk music plays softly in the background as I look around, secretly pleased that I am the first to arrive – and right on time at 6pm, no less. Being warmly received by the staff, I have no inkling that I’ve actually turned up one week too early for my appointment.
“It’s actually next Thursday, so I’m afraid you’ll be dining alone,” restaurant manager Khai informs me with an easy smile as he shows me to my seat. “But don’t worry, you are more than welcome, and we’ll all be keeping you company.”
And so they did – with open arms, no less. West Coast hospitality was in full swing as the team, including chef Carl Jaeger, made it a point to ensure that this accidental solo diner did not look – and feel – like she’d been stood up by a date as the evening crowd started streaming in. Having a meal at California Republic, while excellent (more on that later), is more than just fresh, unpretentious Italian fare done right. It’s a doorway to what one might imagine LA to be in the ‘60s: warm, buzzing, vibrant, and all heart.