Hippo Matt Molina Hippo
5916 1⁄2 Figueroa St. (S. Ave. 59)
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Cuisine: Italian / American / California
Stylish neighborhood spot in Highland Park from chef Matt Molina and the folks at Silverlake Wine.
Openings: Dinner Tues.-Sun., Brunch Sat.-Sun.


  • Dress code: Casual
Hippo, Los Angeles, CA

Hippo Restaurant Review:

About the chef: Matt Molina got his start cooking at Campanile under Nancy Silverton, and also worked at Osteria Mozza. He subsequently left to open the Everson Royce Bar downtown, and then partnered with Silverton and Silverlake Wine’s Randy Clement to launch Triple Beam Pizza in Highland Park in 2018. Partnering again with Clement, and Joe Capella of Silverlake Wine, Hippo followed a year later, just across the breezeway, sharing the same complex.

The décor: Like its Highland Park environs, Hippo is stylish, fun and funky. An open kitchen showcases Molina and his crew in a lively culinary theater, and the sprawling restaurant feels spacious under a lofty bow truss wooden ceiling. White walls pop with graphic orange flowers like a cross between Matisse and Keith Haring, and a warm golden light bathes wood tables and chairs. The long bar is a bit of a scene, and the rather stark patio out back is shared with Molina’s pizza joint next door. It’s a fairly rocking Eastside crowd, but fans have come from further afield for Molina’s cooking too.

Likes: Seriously great pasta; hip yet casual atmosphere; dynamic wine list.
Dislikes: It gets pretty loud, especially on weekends.

Food & Drinks: The pasta at Hippo, made by hand daily, is not only likely the best in Highland Park, or the Eastside, but arguably a strong contender for best in LA. Fettuccine, just al dente, mingles with a flavorful, succulently rich pork ragù. Ethereal celery root triangles with buttered shallots and chives melt on the tongue. For a more robust, rustic appeal, try the maccheroni alla chitarra with Salt Spring black mussels. Molina also shines at crafting seasonal California flavors in subtler small plates — we liked the simple, pure flavors of milky burrata with rye berries, fresh nectarines and mint, and also a striking Royal Hamachi crudo offset by cherries, tarragon and chervil. The kitchen deftly turns out a barbequed quail wrapped in pancetta with honey and sage, and a memorable cedar smoked ocean trout. For dessert, the espresso pot de crème is the perfect way to end. The wine list offers up some compelling boutique wines from interesting regions (with, of course, a focus on Italy); the staff is knowledgeable with recommendations and generous with tastings. Cocktails as well are fun and well-crafted with some unique ingredients ranging from saffron bitters to piquillo pepper and cherry balsamic.

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