HiPPO by Matt Molina - Highland Park

I’m surprise that there aren’t really many mention of HiPPO on FTC.

The restaurant is located in the same complex as GGET and sandwiches between fan favorite Triple beam and Highland Park Wines. Leading this chef-driven restaurant is former James Beard Best Chef Award winner, Matt Molina, formerly of the highly acclaimed Osteria Mozza. For 8 years, he helmed the chef de cuisine role there under Nancy Silverton, earning a Michelin star in both 2008 and 2009 before departing the restaurant in 2015.

Parking: It’s a pain in the butt since the restaurant doesn’t have a parking lot nor is valet service offered, but I always park at the nearby CVS lot which is always empty.

Decor: The restaurant is in the Highland Park hipster mold but tastefully done with high bow-truss ceilings. The wooden tables are relatively close together but sans tablecloth which caters to a casual feel. If you’re in the mood, you can ask to be seated in a heated patio out in the back where Triple Beam fans enjoy their pizza during the day.

Food Price Point: Surprisingly “affordable” - $3 - $10 for HH and $9 - $26 for main menu

Service: Disjointed. Perhaps because I sat at the bar? I had to ask for the complimentary bread and food came out at a furious pace at times. In addition, our happy hour dishes seem to come out at random time and in no particular order either. We got the cauliflower toast after we finished with our pasta course while our cocktail didn’t even come until we were halfway through our meal. Also, do note the 3% healthcare surcharge on the bill!

Partial dining room shot. I really should’ve grabbed a wide angle lens for this shot but oh well…

Bar area

Chef-Owner Mat Molina, the person wearing a white hat, is in the house working the line all night!

Freshly baked foccacia from Triple Beam 20 feet away from the restaurant. These are essentially the crust of Triple Beam’s pizza (?)…lightly salted, fluffy in the middle with a bit of chewiness, and finished with a healthy dose of olive oil on top. It seems like HiPPO gets a delivery of these goodies every 30 mins or so.

ahi tuna tostada | radishes, cilantro, scallions, ponzu sauce
It’s refreshing enough but the subtle flavor of the tuna is slightly muted by the ponzu.

cauliflower “tahini” toasts | walnut, raisin, and caper relish - HH portion
Bread is griddled to a crisp and offers great contrast to the silky smooth cauliflower puree and the intensely garlicky salty-sweet relish.

fresh ricotta raviolo | tomato, petite basil - HH portion
Can you really go wrong with anything pasta given Matt Molina’s pedigree? The answer is no!

The perfectly al dente raviolo filled with soft ricotta is lifted by an unusually bright tomato sauce and fragrance of the fresh basil.

shaved brussels sprouts | toasted almonds, mint, lemon, parmigiano reggiano - HH portion
This dish is a crunch city with the slightly softened raw sprouts and nutty toasted almonds, but the complexity and tang of the parmigiano reggiano and brightness of the lemon vinaigrette really carried this dish. By the way, am I the only one that feels bloated whenever there’s raw brussel sprouts involved?

striped bass crudo | basil pistou, dahila farms herbs
Highlight of the night. The provencal basil sauce added tons of depth and brightness to the fatty bass.

tagliolini | duck ragu
This dish is the ultimate comfort food. It’s super homey with just the right amount of richness from the delicious ragu. The pasta, as expected, is cooked perfectly al dente again.

It’s not often that there are leftover ragu after we finished the pasta, but when that happens, it’s “crostini” or “Roman-style pizza” time at HiPPO.

barbecued quail wrapped in pancetta | treviso, honey, sage
The breasts are just a touch overcooked while the thighs are definitely overcooked.

Surprise! Cutting open the oddly puffed up quail reveals the onion and pancetta lardon stuffing. They go really well with the tangy balzamic sauce and glazed cabbage that are sitting under the quail.

espresso pot de creme | dark chocolate, candied hazelnuts, sea salt
A play on Osteria Mozza’s classic butterscotch budino?

There’s the familiar thick custard topped with a thick sauce and crunch from sea salt. However, rather than the good old butterscotch pudding, caramel sauce, and texture contrast from a rosemary cookie, we now that bitter espresso pudding, a dark chocolate sauce, and differing texture from candied hazelnuts. It works equally well!

With Triple Beam delivering fresh foccacia throughout the night, rock solid food, and a lower than average price point, Matt Molina has a winner in my book. If you’re looking to have food that will blow your socks off with creativity, modernist techniques, or unusual flavor combinations, you should stay away. But if you’re looking for truly delicious food that will nourish your soul, then this is The Good Place. Anyone got that reference? :smirk:

5916 1/2 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Update #1 - Stuffed! Serviceable HH meal after work but not travel worthy.

#neverforget @PorkyBelly

I like how that they reused the end grain chopping board

complimentary sparkling water

complimentary foccacia
Noticeably more bread-like than what I had last time which was almost Triple Beam pizza crust-like.

Mr. Sergio giving me death glares

cauliflower “tahini” toasts | walnut, raisin, and caper relish

italian chicken meatball burger | black olive tapanade aioli, mozzarella, dill pickles, egg brioche bun, hippo fries with ketchup & garlic aioli
Super soft and light bun with fantastically charred but equally light chicken patty. Sadly, it came with the In & Out style soggy fries.

Venom, is that you?

Crunchy, tangy, a touch of sweetness. It’s a good palate cleanser.

Update #2: Sergio’s here everyday and every shift. Solid brunch.

burrata di bufala imported from lazio - italy, fett’unta
Sergio cooked these fett’unta himself!

flakey buttermilk biscuits, honey butter
Crazy flaky crust.

griddle’d buttermilk hotcakes - gluten free

eggs benedict, sourdough toast, prosciutto, arugula, hollandaise
Love the charred sourdough that offers a crunchy texture.

fettuncine with heritage pork ragu
Handmade pasta with a bolognese like meat sauce. What’s not to like?


Be careful: The CVS management will tow your car if you leave the premises.

Thanks @J_L, their back lot is always empty though and how would they know if I went to CVS or not? Just curious.


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I’ve done the same thing, once while they were pulling someone out of the lot :thinking: I need to get over to that part of town more often but I did do a short write up

I’m wondering if anyone will notice or care about something that really bothered me at Hippo (although I liked the food and service very much). If you look closely at the the photo of the bar area, you see a line of a few two-top tables which are right next to the seating in the bar area that’s just slightly elevated over the two-tops. There’s seating in this bar area is at a counter that looms over these two-tops.The result is that the bar patrons seated at the counter are not only close enough for the diners below to easily reach out and touch, the seating is such that they have no choice but to face the diners at the two-tops below. I’m used to being seated in restaurants where you’re cheek-to-jowl, but when people you don’t know can’t help but to hear every word you say AND see every bite you take… it seemed to me to be a bit outrageous for a place like this.

I found that very odd as well, but it’s all about the Benjamin. The restaurant probably needed separation between the main dining area and the bar but didn’t want to waste precious space at the extremely small counter. :thinking:

I actually sat at that counter last night and it didn’t really bother me since I’m the one looking down at this couple at the 2 top. But if it’s the other way around, I might get uncomfortable since there will be people watching me eat from above the whole night!

Thanks for the reality check!

I can only speak for myself, but comfort plays a fair amount in deciding whether I willl eat somewhere. And one has to wonder if the owner(s) respect their customers enough to take this into consideration.

The more comfortable I am, the more I open my wallet to the menu, drink lists and tipping. And the more likely I will return. Places like this get zero consideration - from me - because it seems they’ve shown me the same amount of thought.

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@jerrystrull & @aaqjr Obviously Osteria Mozza’s menu is more expansive and ambitious, but how would you guys compare HiPPO to it? Thanks!

HiPPO is very good, but it’s so hard to compare those two the atmosphere couldn’t be more different. I think i mentioned in my post that it reminds me a bit of Jason Neroni’s old place Superba snack bar. Creative, tasty, loud, casual, boisterous. Osteria Mozza is more ‘Adult’ for lack of a better description. Just depends if you like high energy restaurants or not.

“High-energy” meaning so loud you can’t hear yourself think, much less converse with the person next to you? No, thank you. The only way my friend and I were able to eat at HiPPO was to sit outside on the (unimpressive-looking) patio.

Is it wrong that I’m most fascinated by the fact that he quit his job to be a test car driver only to come back to work?
This thread is really great with the different view points.


well I guess we found the starting capital jfc

Within one hour of the news, Team McLaren announced that Molina, who has been secretly testing road and race cars, had signed a seven-figure contract to be the chief test driver for the esteemed British automobile manufacturer. McLaren founder Ron Dennis said it was “with profound relief I can finally let the world know it was Matt Molina behind the wheel when the McLaren P1 recently lapped the Nordschilfe at the Nurgurging in under seven minutes.”

But don’t you only get all the money if you finish out the contract? He didn’t disappear for that long.

Contracts are generally annual? The real question is…where did he get the time to practice race driving when he was working as the CDC full time at Mozza?!

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Same here, he was paid over a million to test drive cars? Who wouldn’t give it a go for a year or two!


Shit…no kidding. I’d do it, too! Sounds way more fun than my day job.


I think the race car driver story is fake. Seems to have originated on this site, which appears to be satire:

See also:

Did really people take that seriously?

There’s no way Goodwin would ever let someone without at least some F2 pedigree (to say nothing of actual F1 pedigree) run the P1 around the 'Ring. (And, for what it’s worth, the P1 never set an official sub-7 minute 'Ring time. Simulation only. By sectors, no less.)