Pasta, pasta, pasta! I had been told by many a pasta-finatic that if you’re on the hunt for delicious Italian food in Los Angeles, you head straight to Felix Trattoria. Being that it’s in Venice, it’s not the quickest dinner venture for us (not to mention reservations are hard to come by), but when I was planning a recent date night with friends, I made Felix a top priority. Chef Evan Funke’s take on traditional, regional Italian cuisine enriched with local Cali ingredients is nothing short of spectacular. Pasta and bread are the true standouts, and you can even watch them get made right before your eyes! The pizza bianca (with melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella) and the classic focaccia sfincione are not to be missed. You really can’t go wrong with anything from the handmade pasta menu, which offers various regional specialties from all around Italy. I love an orecchiette, and this one served with sausage, broccoli, peperoncino, and canestrato was delectable down to the last bite! Even the veggies at Felix were memorable: I loved the mint and pesto Siciliano coating the green beans in the fagiolini verdi dish! Also impressive were the branded ice cubes in my negroni- how fancy! Even though we were pretty stuffed by this point, you know I don’t skip dessert. The torta della nonna (a perfectly moist olive oil cake) really hit the spot, and allowed us to finish our meal on a not-too-sweet, but totally satisfied note. Scroll through the slideshow to check out the rest of our meal, and trust me when I say- get there soon! Felix (Latin for “happy” or “lucky”) easily gets my vote for best Italian in LA, and I already cannot wait to return in the new year!
My love for casual, but consistently tasty breakfast and lunch spots is no secret. When we started spending more time in Los Angeles, one of my top priorities was to find a few neighborhood spots at which we could become regulars. These places need to be warm and inviting with a nice atmosphere, the food not too fussy, brew great coffee, and even better if they bake delicious pastries in house. I’d heard several people rave about Go Gem ‘Em Tiger, and once my husband and I stopped by one morning, we realized why. After scouring the menu and narrowing down our breakfast choices (no easy feat!), we snagged a table outside in the sun and sipped our coffees (they roast and sell their own beans!). I highly recommend getting yours made with their housemade almond macadamia milk! Yum! You’ll find some classics on the menu, like homemade granola and a breakfast sandwich, but we went for some of GGET’s more unique offerings. My husband loves a hash, and was all about his Spanish chorizo hash with eggs, potato, and aioli (he only wished it was bigger!). I went for the chickpea frittata, served with seasonal veggies and pickled beets! The only thing missing was hot sauce. We also shared a side of the roasted cauliflower salad, which was served cold and visible in their ready-made section, among many other tasty looking sides. Go Get ‘Em Tiger is the perfect spot for an easy, but enjoyable breakfast or lunch with friends, but also works for a quick coffee and pastry to go. I love getting to sit outside, catching the breeze and soaking up the sun. Lucky for me, they recently opened another location in my new neighborhood- I cannot wait to stop by soon!
Mh Zh had been on my list of places to try in LA since before we ever came here, and it's pretty obvious why. It checks off all the boxes of what I want in a dining experience- Middle Eastern flavors, great bread, wood-fired veggies, lamb, & fish, and outdoor seating! All ideal things in my book. The only thing missing is a great bottle of wine to pair with such delicious food! (They used to be BYOB & are currently working on their liquor license). The space itself is quite small and doesn't take reservations, so we hadn't ventured over for dinner until recently, and wow, I'm so glad we finally did! The whole experience is very "Silver Lake"- with brown paper table cloths, silverware in a jar, and menus casually written on paper bags, all happening right on a cute little corner of Sunset Blvd. But trust me, the food couldn't be further from that boring, cookie-cutter fare you'll find elsewhere.
If you're feeling super hungry or with a group, I highly recommend you "fire menu", which is essentially ordering everything on the limited menu, and makes for a great smorgasburg of shared plates. My husband and I ordered a la carte, and still managed to try a wonderful assortment of dishes, many straight out of their Josper oven. Anything served with Bub & Grandma's bread, which is stocked at many popular restaurants in LA, is always a highlight, so we dove right into it with bowls of tehina and ful . Mh Zh's ful is a white bean stew of sorts, and comes laced with schug, a super flavorful Israeli hot sauce packed with green herbs and garlic. Yum. The grilled beets seemed so simple, but the depth of flavor involved was truly remarkable, and we both consider them some of the best we've ever eaten! The nightly special was lamb chops, which we love and naturally felt obligated to order. They were so juicy, and paired nicely with a creamy, herby chimichurri sauce, and the whole branzino was cooked to perfection in the Josper oven! I already cannot wait to go back, and considering how close I live, there's no excuse!
San Francisco is such a great food city, but one that I really haven’t gotten the chance to explore all that much. A few months ago when I was spending a night there before heading out to wine country, I made it a top priority to make dinner reservations at Tartine Manufactory. You’ve probably heard of Tartine Bakery before, or at least drooled over their tasty looking baked goods on Instagram, but did you know they also have a chic restaurant in a bright, industrial space in the Mission District? I’d been following them for a while, and practically every dish I see is calling my name. The menu draws from local, seasonal California ingredients, and of course offers some killer pasta and bread. There’s a huge bakery in the restaurant, and I can only imagine how many fresh loaves of sourdough they’re churning out each day (check out all those proofing baskets stacked up below!). It’s worth having a glass of wine at the bar and just watching the entire process unfold. Serious bakers are practically my idols! PS- if you’re looking to get into baking yourself, I highly suggest you start out with the critically acclaimed Tartine Bread book. It’s full of foolproof classics that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
Getting back to our meal, it did not disappoint in the least. We tried a bunch of dishes (as evidenced by scrolling through the slideshow above), and while it would be easy to say the bread was the highlight of the meal, that really wouldn’t do the rest of the food justice. The lamb meatballs were delicately spiced and served with a deliciously creamy, yet earthy fava bean purée. One of my faves was the marinated artichoke with fennel and pistachio- such a unique dish, and a total flavor explosion. The slightly sweet, caramelized fennel paired perfectly with the hearty pistachio spread. Yum! Most people would agree that once you’ve tried homemade pasta it’s hard to go back, and Tartine’s pasta will really do you in. Classically simple, non-fussy, and perfectly al dente! Of course my favorite part of any meal is dessert, so I naturally (greedily?) chose the one that serves 2-4 people! Although it was not my first time devouring the PB&J ice cream pie, it was just as decadently tasty as I remembered. Seriously, the peanut caramel and peanut cookie crust take this treat to another level entirely. Don’t forget to stop by the ice cream counter on your way out for a cone to-go, and definitely take a freshly baked loaf of bread for to enjoy at home! Good news for those in Los Angeles- you don’t have to drive eight hours to enjoy all that Tartine has to offer- a Southern Cali outpost is opening soon!
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One restaurant opening I was pretty bummed to miss while in LA was Dez, a fast-casual Middle Eastern spot in Nolita. Specializing in vegetable mezes, chef-crafted salads, bowls, and pita sandwiches, plus a a seasonal soft serve as well as housemade baked goods, this place is basically my ideal restaurant. Not to mention it was opened by one of my fave people to follow on Instagram, and fellow Brooklynite, @EdenEats (go follow her if you don't already- trust). No surprise then, that I put Dez at the top of my priority list on a recent trip to New York. I brought along my favorite eating partner, my husband Derek, and we had the perfect Middle Eastern lunch feast in the dez. I'm a huge fan of their bright and colorful mezes, vegetable-focused small plates best enjoyed with their freshly baked pita. The heavenly mix of flavors and textures did not disappoint- from the fire roasted cauliflower with crispy capers and currant chimichurri, to the honey and harissa roasted carrots with dukkah, I don't think I could pick a favorite if I tried! Derek throughly enjoyed his shawarma burger, complete with its giant shard of crispy eggplant sticking out the top! We were somehow too full for dessert (who even am I?), but I def need to get back to try their soft serve and baked goods soon. And brunch too? Sign me up!
When you're tired of the same 'ol thing, and really craving something outside the box, I highly suggest you head to Trois Familia. This French-Mexican fusion spot comes from Chef Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo, and is part of the highly acclaimed Trois Mec/Petit Trois family, so you know going in that it's got a lot to live up to. Just browsing through the photos above will show you how colorful and creative the dishes are, and I can attest that everything is just as flavorful and decadent as it looks. Some items on the menu may sound a little out there- beet tartare tostada? Parisian gnocchi? hashbrown chilaquiles?- and I wouldn't fault you for questioning if they'll work. Chef Ludo does what he does best, however, and blends the flavors and techniques of Mexican and French cuisines seamlessly. Each dish offers the comforts of what you'd expect, plus a surprising flair to make it something entirely different. The beet (not beef!) tartare tostada was a personal fave- the crunchy tostada was complemented perfectly from the fresh lime and avocado crema. Also, how much does it look like real beef tartare?! The mussels Marinière were packed full of garlic, white wine, and herbs, and the grilled bread was perfect for soaking up every last drop of sauce. Don't miss their signature tres leches birthday cake for dessert!