The Ingredient: Conserva Kings

These tiny gourmet delights are the toast-toppers of the town.

We can thank our Southern European friends from Spain and Portugal for the latest ingredient trend. No longer just an enduring pantry staple of tuna or sardines, conservas are gourmet tins of flavorful fish you may see in top restaurants. Here is where you can find the best variety and stock up for your next picnic. Just add bread and wine.

New to the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel, Dahlia is an intimate ground-floor cocktail lounge designed by Kelly Wearstler. Located just behind the hotel’s current hotspot Caldo Verde, chef Suzanne Goin serves tinned fish such as mussels in escabeche from Conservas Ortiz’s special Ria de Arosa line, served with guindillas (peppers) and grilled AOC boule alongside crudités.


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Lydia Clarke of DTLA Cheese at Grand Central Market has opened Kippered nearby on Broadway. Her cozy Champagne-wine bar serves over 70 kinds of tinned fish.

At Hotel Per La, the newly revamped Bar Clara serves pesce di latta, aka tinned sardines, with pickled vegetables, echiré, toast, and one of the best rooftop views in the city.

For the new Mercat opening behind Spanish favorite Otoño in Highland Park, chef Teresa Montaño carries some of her favorite conserva brands, including Siesta Co. baby squids in olive oil, La Brujula razor clams, Minerva Bacalao, and many more, paired with vermouth.


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Weighing in with the most offerings, Saltie Girl in West Hollywood has a staggering 130-plus tins on the menu, ranging from squid and scallops to salmon and sea urchin caviar. Each order is served on a wooden board with three lines of salt, lemon, a nob of butter, garnishes, and spicy condiments that you can layer over crusty French bread. “Tins speak to people’s childhood so there is a nostalgic element, plus the fish has enormous health benefits: strong in omega-3s, low in calories and carbs, vitamin B rich, and an excellent source of calcium,” says owner Kathy Sidell.

At Bar Moruno in Silver Lake and at the Rapido shop next door, bestsellers include anchovies or boquerone that fly off the shelves from historic Portuguese brand Ati Manel. Others to look for include ABC+ with unique sauces, including curry from Southeast Asia; and numbered tins from Spain’s Artesanos Alalunga caught in the Cantabrian Sea.


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Out in the West Valley, Gasolina Café was an early adopter of the conservas movement, offering a tin plate or single orders. Options include higher-end skipjack tuna belly in olive oil and a wide variety of sardine options, plus you can purchase from the front counter to take home.

In Santa Monica, Jeremy Fox’s Birdie G’s serves salt spring mussels marinated and seasoned in house with makrut lime and presented in a little tin, accompanied by a side of yuzu kosho mayo and artisan matzo.

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