Walking into Botanica Restaurant is a bit like walking onto the cover of a chic interiors magazine—which only makes sense once you meet the team behind it.
Owners Emily Fiffer and Heather Sperling moved to Los Angeles from Chicago and New York two years ago to open Botanica after falling in love with the city’s creative waves, diverse produce, and friendly local vibes. Silver Lake Boulevard’s sleepy, hip streets and peaceful reservoir nearby gave inspiration to their dream. Botanica’s restaurant space includes a marketplace, both of which fuel and complement the related food lifestyle website. The market sells the same ingredients that the restaurant uses, and the website is a food lifestyle platform/online shop with features on city food guides, technique tutorials, and select recipes from Botanica’s own restaurant menu, staying true to the owners’ editorial backgrounds.
Think Better Silver Lake Homes and Gardens, perhaps, but this house exists as if occupied by welcoming neighbors that have invited the world inside for freshly cooked meals, coffee, and cocktails. Bright blue-framed glass doors open to reveal cream, beige, and pink walls and tall, high-beam wood ceilings, reminiscent of a cozy, naturally lit barn home. Succulents and plants dot the tables and counters and extend a feeling of the sunny outdoors inside from the covered back patio. Opened in May, the space already is bustling with people. While couples and friends drop in to catch up over meals, many guests also come by alone, some who sit with a coffee and newspaper or munch on breakfast. The staff animatedly chats with the quickly-becoming-regular customers, learning names as they come by to refill water and brews. And no, this space isn’t actually a converted home—it was formerly a liquor store from the ’40s, torn down and now serving as a market, restaurant, and lifestyle concept.
Botanica is a “vegetable-inspired” restaurant, in both its food and cocktail menus. They work with local producers from all over the city to bring in fresh vegetables for their breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and market. Examples include colorful, bright, and beautifully plated dishes like “Our Favorite Romesco”—grilled broccolini, charred leeks, smashed potatoes, and cilantro flowers; and “Asparagus Tortilla Espanola”—potato and onion confit, farm eggs, and pimento aioli with a simple green salad. Cocktails are garnished and shaken with ingredients like arugula, basil, and beet juice. They also offer hot, lean meats like smoked king salmon and cast-iron pimento clams. Drawing inspiration from cuisines all over the world, from the Mediterranean to the Middle East, Fiffer and Sperling see Botanica as a “global pantry” for its visitors.
In addition to a fresh, healthy food menu, the coffee and tea menu also follows a similarly simple and fresh structure. Botanica uses Leaves and Flowers Tea and San Francisco’s Coffee Manufactory coffees—a blend, a decaf, and a rotating single-origin coffee. The bar is backed by equipment like a Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro grinder and a Mahlkönig EK 43. They serve classic espresso drinks via La Marzocco Linea PB, and have hot and iced drip coffee thanks to Curtis ThermoPro G4 brewers. The coffee is presented beautifully in a variety of tasteful ceramics—including those lovely Kinto cups in the photo above—and cold drinks consumed in-house come with posh steel cocktail straws. Signature drinks include an almost-guilt-free cacao mocha made with housemade cashew-date milk, and the slow-drip iced coffee is made from a sweet, syrupy concentrate brewed cleverly overnight by the ThermaPro’s timed brew cycles.
From here, Botanica only expects more growth ahead. In addition to a constantly changing seasonal menu, they hope to have even more items jarred and prepared for their market, and want to continue experimenting with more house-made ingredients in the commissary. Whether you’re in the neighborhood for a healthy meal or a cup of coffee and morning read, Botanica is more than happy to host you, in what feels so much like home.
Photos by Katrina Yentch. Photo of Fiffer and Sperling courtesy of Adam Gastelum Photography.