Cali-Mex Smokehouse Clutch Opens On Lincoln
Ever since Oscar Hermosillo announced that he would be taking over Benny's Tacos on Lincoln, we've been eagerly anticipating the debut of Clutch, not only because we're regulars of his Cerveteca and Venice Beach Wines on Rose Ave, but because we were also fans of the cheap and tasty Mexican fare at Benny's, all of which are walking distance from home.
On Saturday, Clutch announced its soft opening via Instagram featuring a happy hour menu of tacos, nachos and carne asada fries. And oysters, an unexpected addition until you hear what they have planned come February when the full menu rolls out.
The front entrance leaves no question about what to expect inside. Stacks of beautifully gnarled logs on metal shelves and a big-belly smoker outside let you know that in here it's all about the low and slow. Tender carne asada steaks, chicken and calamari are grilled over embers of white oak, pine and hickory. Oscar describes Clutch as, "a barbecue wood-burning grill joint," but unlike Southern-style barbecue, like the kind served up directly across Lincoln at Baby Blues BBQ, or other Cali-Mex eateries, like the just-opened Taco Love a block south, Clutch will lean on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients with an inventive twist.
He's pulling in a few family recipes that served him well at Oscar's, and for the first time, called upon a notable name to helm the kitchen. Together with chef Niko Trigueros from Santa Monica's Blue Plate Taco, Oscar is testing out additions like smoked duck and different types of grilled fish. And if the veggie tacos with charred, smokey kale are any indication of what's to come for vegetarian options, this will easily be a neighborhood barbecue joint with something for everyone. Not to mention the large outdoor patio with picnic tables and several screens to watch whatever big game is playing, this has all the makings of everyone's new favorite group hangout. Come February, Clutch will also serve fresh-baked pastries and espresso, and possibly cocktails to add to the selection of beer and wine.
As for the name Clutch? It has less to do with describing the experience of chomping down on one of these carne asada tacos for the first time. As in, "Whoa, this carne asada is so clutch!" (Although no one could blame the words that come out of your mouth the moment after these treats go into it.) But the name Clutch is more literal. It's both a nod to the eatery's location on Lincoln Blvd., Venice's gritty stretch of Highway 1 deeply rooted in automotive sport, and it's a reference to Oscar's hobby of collecting and restoring classic cars, a passion he plans to incorporate into local events at his new smokey pit stop on The Linc.
Hours // Now through the end of January, Clutch is open Thursday and Friday 5 to 11 pm; Saturday 1 to 11 pm; and Sunday 10:30 am for breakfast tacos and 2 to 10 pm for the happy hour menu.
Clutch // 427 Lincoln Blvd., Venice 90291