Cuban Xiomara Ardolina has changed the scope of her restaurant Xiomara on Melrose. Led by executive chef Michael Reed and sous chef Brandon Furlow, Xiomara has redesigned the entire menu for its customers. In formulating the California cuisine menu, Reed has followed his passion and heart, and this is what Ardolina, who classifies the restaurant as fine dining at an affordable price, liked most when selecting her chef.

Yes, the quality of food is superb and outstanding. The venue’s location is perfect. What makes Xiomara on Melrose Avenue a prominent force in the industry is the personal, yet professional service given to customers, which stems from its wonderful proprietor (Ardolina), general manager Marlene, the chefs, hosts, waiters and all other staff.

As a matter of fact, if you dine at the restaurant, you will not want to leave – everyone treats you like family. There is a comfort zone created by the staff that places you at ease when having lunch or dinner. Add to that the delicious food and, well, it’s difficult to exit.

Xiomara is perfect for lunch, dinner, a date and other special occasions. The list of California cuisine items on the menu is lengthy, and the delicious dishes are presented in a fashionable manner to boot. All meals are made with fresh produce, which gives the eatery an edge over many other restaurants.

The dinner menu offers several small plates, salads, fresh pastas and main courses. The duck confit leg with French lentils and celery raisin relish is a great starter because it is a classic example of a small plate; this dish is simply cooked and designed to perfection by Reed and Furlow. Both kitchen masters hold a wealth of knowledge in the culinary arts, and it’s evident in the prepared dishes.

The roasted beet salad with lamb’s lettuce, candied walnuts, goat cheese and anise seed vinaigrette is a must-try salad and the crispy pork belly with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, smokey eggplant puree, kale and pork jus is simply scrumptious.

I have never been a big fan of pastas, but I am now after consuming the restaurant’s farmers’ market  seasonal vegetable pasta. This pasta dish is magnificently divine, and I highly recommend it. Since the ingredients for the dish are selected daily you will instantly take note of its freshness, marvelous smell and delightful taste.

While dining, you cannot forget a lively libation, like the mojito, the signature drink at Xiomara on Melrose. This is the best mojito I have consumed in all my life, especially because of the pure taste of sugar cane and mint. The sugar cane is delivered from Florida, and its juice is extracted right on the spot when placing the order for the mojito. And it comes in this almost diagonally shaped drink glass. Xiomara on Melrose’s mojitos are an eclectic version of the cocktail itself, and are just $7.

The lunch menu is slightly different from the dinner menu, yet it results in the same outcome: You cannot go wrong with what you ask for. The seared salmon with corn soup, lima beans and asparagus is a great choice for a main dish, as well as their variety of sandwiches, including a Xiomara burger with bacon, sous vide onion, lettuce, tomato and cheddar or blue cheese. Try the Cuban press with black forest ham, slow-roasted pork and swiss cheese. All sandwiches are served with your selection of fries or salad.

And then there is this thing called dessert. Even though it takes 45 minutes to make, you must save room for the Budin de Pan. This chocolate bread pudding soufflé is served warm with Gavina coffee custard sauce. In addition, a fabulous Mascarpone Cheesecake with Allspice crumble and pumpkin ice cream will keep you coming back for more.

Xiomara on Melrose can only increase its success since Reed has yet to formally finalize the menu.

“I’ll probably keep changing it until I think it is done,” Reed says. “I’ll want to try placing other dishes on the menu.”

For more information, call (323) 461-0601 or visit