Llama Inn Chef Erik Ramirez’s Favorite Spots for a Quick Lunch Break
Where do chefs go and, more importantly, where do they love to eat? In Resy Regulars, we ask Resy chefs to tell us where they’re regulars.
In this edition, we’re talking to 2023 James Beard Award semifinalist for outstanding chef, Erik Ramirez, who sparked a growing empire focused on modern Peruvian cuisine here in New York: It first began with the Llama Inn in Williamsburg, followed by Llama San in the West Village, and a Llama Inn offshoot in Madrid. And by next year, there will be an as-yet unnamed project opening at The Spiral at Hudson Yards, offering Peruvian Japanese fare.
With four restaurants under his belt, and two sons, he’s often juggling a lot at once. “At times, it feels very all over the place,” Ramirez says. “It’s very chaotic, but it’s kind of a controlled chaos.”
Any given workday starts and ends with parenting: taking his kids to school in the morning, picking them up at 5 p.m. for a home-cooked dinner, and tucking them into bed.
In between lies the “controlled chaos.” A typical workweek has Ramirez at Llama Inn on Monday and Tuesday; in the city at either Llama San or Hudson Yards on Wednesday and Thursday; and on a detailed weekly recap meeting with the Llama Inn Madrid team over Zoom on Fridays.
The restaurants don’t remain static though. During the last two weeks of March, Ramirez stayed put in Williamsburg for a comprehensive renovation of Llama Inn, which reopened on April 3rd. He’s currently in the thick of designing the kitchen at his 6,000-square-foot ground-floor restaurant at The Spiral.
Longer-term projects aside, impromptu check-ins pop up, too. He’ll visit any of his restaurants for menu changes (“I taste everything that the chefs are presenting or, if I’m making a dish, I’ll be at the restaurant”); complaints about a dish; food cost issues; and any staff disagreements that need smoothing over.
Because his days are so packed, the places where he calls himself a lunch regular are those where he can dip in for a quick bite, or stop by for takeout. Read ahead for his favorite lunch break spots.