It was a dark day in Beverlywood, CA when Mexikosher closed its doors. The epitome of Katsuji Tanabe unexpectedness – a Kosher Mexican hole in the wall turned neighbourhood gem – suddenly left us, and almost as suddenly, word spread of his next advent in culinary hybridization, where one cuisine would blur blissfully into the next. With a Mexican bent, Japanese pedigree, and an eponymous homage to the president who once resided there, The NIXON Chops & Whiskey uprooted in unexpected locale, and lit up Uptown Whittier.
Those of us left befuddled and burritoless were fixed on finding out about this new steak anchored shake-up, albeit a bit beyond the bubble. The only conventional thing happening was that Tanabe has never really befriended convention. Thus, off to Whittier we’d venture.
Upon arrival it is clear he has not continued his kosher connection. The Confit Half Pig Head (“Head of the Beast”) was our first tell. Back up indicators included the Colorado Wagyu Flat Iron, Black Angus Beef Chops, and a mighty double cheeseburger fast food haunts hope you never try. Popping by for a light bite is not something I’d recommend.
What I would, is just about everything else. The scene is clubby, alive. Lighting is low, energy is up, and the house is full. The service is knowledgeable and accommodating. Like his yen for fusing culture and cuisine, this place is stereotypical of nothing and conversely a cocktail of carnivorous cravings and creativity.
Vegetarians, you’ll be fine. The sides (“comforts”) are served steakhouse style, ample and outrageous. The spinach, cauliflower, Brussels, all excellent. The Brussels can be ordered with or without bacon, but definitely with the vanilla butter. Yes, on the vanilla butter. If you order the mac and cheese you will scrape every last baked morsel off the cast iron and you will leave talking about it.
The Kampachi Ceviche, too. Even with the avocado and buttermilk lime, that Habanero is sharp enough to set a small tear down your cheek. Nothing a whiskey flight can’t take care of. Luckily such is their speciality here.
My sister raved about the filet. Three times actually. It’s enough to carry dinner plus two succeeding lunches, and never managed to disappoint, even on round three. Prepared as expertly as you’d expect from Tanabe. He’s not going to open a steakhouse unless he can do it like this.
And the broiled lobster is one to indulge in if you regularly do not, especially with those sides. Same goes for the fried calamari. Some things are just not worth ordering unless it’s a sure thing. Having a Top Chef in the kitchen is as comforting as that mac and cheese.
Order dessert even if you didn’t leave room. Go off menu with the cara jillo – an after-dinner beverage literally lit on fire. Roasted marshmallows make it so. Possible I just determined my first destination drink.
Katsuji Tanabe has never left his mark without a gastronomic fortitude and flourish that had everywhere from the four-star Bastide to the Beverly Hills Mastro’s basking in his mastery. You can expect to find him in the kitchen at The NIXON, this new love labor his current homebase, your new reason, to go check out the new steak with a side of swagger happening in Whittier.
The NIXON Chops & Whiskey, 13033 Philadelphia St., Whittier, CA. 90601, USA
Tel: +1(562) 698-3355
Street parking’s a breeze here which is a rare pleasure! The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11:00am to 3:00pm; Sunday Brunch from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Dinner Tuesday to Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm; Friday and Saturday from 5:00pm to 11:00pm and Sunday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The El Speakeasy is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:00pm to 2:00am.
Type of Restaurant: Upscale Steakhouse and Whiskey Bar
Price Band: Medium to High
Insider Tip: Want the same but less? Drop into the connected El Silencio Speakeasy. There’s an abbreviated menu with full access to flavors of the Nixon.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs courtesy of The NIXON Chops & Whiskey and by Jolie Loeb