In the middle of bustling Midtown just a block away from the Fox Theatre, Lyla Lila—named after owners chef Craig Richards’ and restaurateur Billy Streck’s daughters—feels like an eclectic time warp. It’s evident in the crackle of vinyl singing sweet jazz from the 1920s, or in the barroom, where hints of the ’70s are present in emerald green walls, walnut paneling and mid-century modern furniture. And when you take a seat? Crayon-like coloring gracing the menu brings to mind the joys of childhood. Regardless of the age that connects best with you, the restaurant’s charm is undeniable.
In addition to the barroom, the restaurant, designed by Smith Hanes Studio, features an elegant yet approachable dining room and private dining room. Plaster walls, blush-colored curtains and handblown glass fixtures lend the space a Mediterranean flair. Table 36—a corner booth providing sublime views of the restaurant’s action, inside and out—is the best seat in the house.
The daily-changing menu offers Southern European fare with a Georgian twist, as Richards describes it. Expect to find local ingredients intermixing with fresh pastas and wood-fired meats. Pair the pumpkin swordfish or the crispy lasagna with duck and cocoa béchamel with a selection from the extensive wine list, which is heavily sourced from family- and female-owned producers following sustainable practices. And, the presentation is all done in a bright and lively way. “We don’t want to take everything too seriously,” says Richards. “If you sit down in a polished environment and have something playful put in front of you, it becomes a little more relaxed and approachable.”
It’s clear from the energy radiating from the menu and interiors that Lyla Lila is indeed polished and playful. And as for the era where it transports you: that’s in the eye of the beholder.