Damian and Ditroit’s Jesus Cervantes Can’t Stay Away From Pizza and Tacos
To-Go Takes is Resy’s regular feature wherein we quiz the folks behind some of our favorite restaurants about all things related to takeout.
In this edition, we speak to Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes, the chef de cuisine for Enrique Olvera’s Damian and Ditroit in Downtown L.A. After working in Olvera’s restaurants in New York, Cervantes moved to the West Coast to helm the two restaurants, which opened during the pandemic in late 2020. When Damian temporarily ceased all operations (it reopens March 3), Ditroit, the takeout window behind the larger restaurant, became the go-to for Mexican-style street food. Below, Cervantes shares some of his favorite takeout tips, tricks, mezcal, and regular stops.
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Restaurant: Damian and Ditroit
Name + Title: Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes, Chef de Cuisine
Resy: What’s your favorite dish from the Ditroit takeout menu?
Cervantes: The fish flauta is a lot of fun. You have tacos dorados all over L.A., but you don’t generally see them made with fish. A lot of the food at Ditroit is supported by Damian. We use a ton of fish at Damian, so we make like a roasted fish stew, and that’s what we fill the flautas with. The moles tamales is also nice. It’s a mole negro and gives you a really good insight of the flavor profiles we use. Even thought it’s somewhat of a simple dish.
Where have you been getting takeout from? What’s your go-to order?
I love pizza, so there are two spots l love. Hail Mary Pizza in Atwater Village, and La Morra, which has been doing a great job during the pandemic. La Morra adjusted very well with frozen pizzas and pop-ups for undodcumented workers, but their pizza is amazing. We also eat tacos a lot, and El Ruso in Boyle Heights is my favorite. I love his mole one, and the chicken tinga is really good. Sonoratown, too. I love the bean and cheese burrito. It’s like a little hot pocket.
What’s a tip someone can do to amp up your takeout?
What’s been super cool here is that we have a huge parking lot [behind H.D. Buttercup, down the alley], and people have been pulling up and turning their cars into little picnics, bringing tables and chairs. So do whatever you need to do to turn it into your own personal dining experience. Anything from the Ditroit menu is pretty easy-going to eat, and it’s really kind of fun hanging out in the parking lot.
What’s your favorite place for to-go cocktails and why?
That’s not something I’ve been doing so much. I’m a big mezcal drinker, and I’ve stocked up my own supply. There’s this one amazing place in Boyle Heights, Ramirez Liquors, they have an amazing selection. In New York, you can’t really get a lot of mezcal easily, so it’s great to pull up to a local here and get something special. Not alcohol, but we hit Maru up every morning for coffee in the morning, they’ve been great.
What single restaurant dish would you walk miles for?
I would walk miles for this if I wasn’t so close. The crispy shrimp tacos from Mariscos Jalisco. They’re so readily available. If I left L.A. for a long stretch of time, I would definitely walk for this.
What was your first meal out when restaurants reopened?
Probably Bestia, I was probably working here and went across the street [laughs]. One of the first ones. They’ve really been here for us. I love their burrata pizza, it just makes me really happy.
What do you miss most about restaurants being open?
You know, working in them. There’s still this high level of camaraderie, but I miss the connection between the places that you’re not working at. I miss the community. There’s been some separation because everyone’s trying to get through it together. It was great seeing chefs from other restaurants, and people trying out our spot. Otherwise, generally just that feeling of it is the thing we most love to do, go out, share a meal with friends, that’s our watering hole, that’s where we talk about the world and goings-on. Just the celebration of restaurants and being the palace to gather.
Damian reopens for outdoor dining on March 3; make dinner reservations here. The Ditroit walk-up window is open noon to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Thursday, and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.