Showing posts tagged restaurants123
Restaurants become a standard due to their food and clientle. And when the spot is always hot, sometimes the food slips. But when you’re calling weeks ahead to get a reservation and paying big bucks for spaghettti with meat sauce, you want it to be damn good.
The other night I ate at Dan Tana’s - a legendary restaurant in LA - and the food was horrible. I was served an unrecognizable “white” fish and friends dined on Italian classics that tasted like Stouffer’s frozen tv dinners.
After I made the list below I realized the majority of the local favorites are still reliable, but we have to keep demanding the best from them. Just because Halle Barry is sitting next to you or Robert De Niro owns the joint does not make chewy gnocchi acceptable.
Here I offer a list of LA’s most popular Italian restaurants
Salivate and Stargaze at:
Don’t Bother Setting Foot In:
Il Moro - Los Angeles
Most people who frequent this lovely West LA classic Italian eatery don’t care about the Benjamins they will be spending on the check, but more importantly about the power play and bigger bucks to be made over the mouth-watering meal. In other words, it’s one of the quintessential Hollywood networking hot spots for agents, producers, and actors.
It just so happens the food is fantastic. Italian dishes that would usually require a subsequent nap are fresh and light so you don’t feel stuffed after you put away a plate of pasta. Although the offering is not exactly what you’d find in Italy, the dishes are classic yet distinct.
Enjoy your meal on the terrace or at the white linen tables inside. The whole experience is delightfully delicious.
La Vista - Houston, Tx
I bet you’ve forgotten about this classic Italian (used to be only BYOB) in the shopping center on Fountainview (near San Felipe). I did. So last week Mom and I walked down from her store Encore to rediscover their rustic Italian dishes that suited our tummies and our wallets.
I’ve never had a dish I didn’t like, and I’m sticking to that story. Super casual, great for group dinners, and like I said, always delicious.
Vinolio - Los Angeles, CA
This newcomer to the Hollywood restaurant scene has been written up for it’s late night grub (it’s open until 4am), but I’m here to tell you it has more to offer you than just post-party pizza.
Wedged between Beauty Bar and some other hot spot, Vinolio is not what you would expect to find hiding on Cahuenga. Walking in, you feel like you’ve been transported to a historic European cafe. I say “European” because although the fare is Italian, the owner is French, and the bar references one of my favorite Notting Hill pubs. If the inside is crowded, you can find a quiet refuge on their delightful terrace in the back.
Whatever the interior suggests to you, there is no doubt the food is classic Italian. A affordable menu of rustic favorites is topped off with several delicious specials and a notable wine list. And for those of you who are health conscious, like yours truly, they have a flour-less (aka pasta-less) roasted veggie lasagna appetizer that is to die for.
I wouldn’t say this is a “must” for LA visitors, but definitely a no-brainer over In ‘n Out or Mel’s for your late night snack. For dinner, locals who love Magnolia and The Bowery down the street will enjoy finding a new affordable feast at Vinolio.
Vinolio - 1634 North Cahuenga Los Angeles, CA 323-856-0888
Going Out For Greek
Nothing says Greek to me like fresh feta cheese. Yum!
During the summer, I use feta to make “Andy’s Summer Salad” but otherwise, I mostly enjoy it in the cold weather months.
Which leads me to thinking about Greek food…I don’t know much about the cuisine other than I like Greek salad and despise hummus (it’s a texture thing).
My past experiences with Greek dining have been at the famous Milos in midtown, and a more low-key Uncle Nick’s in Hell’s kitchen. Milos is “the” NYC Greek restaurant that offers “the” freshest fish (and “the” iciest atmosphere if you ask me). I found neither the fish nor the facade to be impressive and much preferred my experience (and bill) at Uncle Nick’s. Many nights Nick’s is packed, but it’s worth walking past to stop in for a traditional, hearty meal after work. Obviously the Greek salad is amazing!
I have been meaning to try Kefi - one of New York’s not only notable Greek restaurants, but also best fine dining experiences. Started by the lovely Donatella Arpaia (of personal favorite mia dona and David Burke and Donatella), I have no doubt it will be impressive when I finally make it in.
Where are your favorite places to go for Greek? Do you have a recipe you love?
Katsu-ya(s) - Los Angeles
What once was a hidden treasure in the valley in a strip center next to Domino’s and a mom-and-pop pet store has exploded into one of LA’s trendiest restaurants. Yes, nightlife extraordinaire Sam Nazarian knows a good thing when he sees it. Instead of letting it be, he injects the concept with millions of dollars and a Philippe Starck design to make it explode across the greater Los Angeles area.
For those of you who live in LA, Katsu-ya is not front page news, and it’s far from Sam’s latest offerings. But, I think you’ve noticed, it’s still bumpin’.
Personally I’m a fan of the original, which I wrote up here. Most locals would agree with me. It’s still the best.
But for people visiting LA, I think the SBE Katsu-yas exemplify LA. First of all, the original’s signature dishes are replicated to a T. Albeit they cost twice as much, but you’re paying for atmosphere, which is always teeming with celebs, producers, hot actresses, and plenty of wanna-be douche bags. It’s the pu pu plater of LA culture! Kidding…kinda.
Anyway, as much as the locals trash it, they’re always there. The food is good, the people are pretty, and the vibe is alive.
Locations include: Brentwood (my favorite), Hollywood (filled with underage party peeps), Downtown, and…Glendale.
Dishes I devour: spicy tuny app, rock shrimp tempura, baked crab hand roll, black cod. Yum!
Macondo — NYC
After passing by this place numerous times at all different hours of the day, finding it packed on every occasion, I had to see for myself what all of the fuss was about.
So on my latest trip to NYC, I invited some friends to join me on the LES for Macado’s eclectic Latino tapas. Rayuela, it’s owners famed first restaurant, is still noteworthy, so we knew we were in for a gastric treat!
Per usual these days, we were welcomed by yet another creative cocktail menu. But this bartender actually used fresh squeezed juices and purees for this unqiue concoctions. You know I’m not a fan of mixed drinks, but these were something special. So of course we set our expectations high for the meal.
Every single dish on the menu looked amazing - classic Latin compositions with a twist. So, thankfully for the tapas portions and reasonable prices, we were able to order a feats! A few of our favorites:
- Crepa de huitaloche
- Buenos Aires (skirt steak)
- The duck special….whatever they call that
A big win in my book. I look forward to going back, even if it’s just to have a drink at the bar. The people are friendly, the decor is trendy without being pretentious, and the fare is healthy. What esle could I ask for?
Comme Ca - Los Angeles
I’ve heard about Comme Ca for a while now - since Octover 2007 to be exact. Before dinner I twittered “I hope it’s not comme ci comme ca.” Apparenlty I jinxed the joint because that was exactly my feeling about the whole experience.
We walked into quite a scene (which is to be expected) and sat down to a bar menu packed with apothecary-style drinks and an impressive French wine-by-the-glass list. Good start, if that’s what you’re into. I am not a fan of either, but I like that my company always enjoys the effort they have put into their selction of people and beverages.
Another pet peeve I have is ridiculously loud restaurants. I have no interest in raising my voice to talk to the person sitting next to me. Obviously this happens at countless restaurants, I just usually don’t go back to them.
Especially after being served a meal like ours. The crab cake appetizer was mediocre and both entrees (halibut and chicken) were dry as a bone. I mean, pass the ketchup dry. Jeff had a sauce to dip his chicken in, but my halibut was pretty much unedible. So, I didn’t eat much of it - so disappointing. The hot waiter then politely asked me if I enjoyed the meal.
Speaking of the waiter, I loved his uniform (pictured on the top right). I chose this picture to post because the bar menu and waiters’ outfits were basically all Comme Ca has to offer. Another popular spot with a poorly executed menu that will
surely hopefully fall to wayside soon. It has survived 2 years now….
Bottom line, not worth your time or your tummy.
Food + Lab (Los Angeles)
Think Urth Cafe for those of us who want to eat healthy in WeHo without the celeb scene. And the food is better.
Our Lunch - Part 1
Me: Chicken curry salad sandwich on raisin pecan bread.
Andy: Grilled chicken (with amazing flavor), edamame, cranberry, and pecan salad over spinach with house dressing.
Oh so tastey and healthy…well…Then there’s part 2.
Our Lunch part 2.
Deluscious is an understatement. Ranked in order order of melt in your mouth-ness:
- Cinnamon Sugar - crusted sugar and cinnamon on a butter cookie
- Chocolate Decadence - Rich brownie with a chocolate center topped with flakey sugar
- Chocolate Chip - if we had only tried this one, I would have raved about it for years.
The good part: Food + Lab’s easy, fresh fare and juices are less than a block from my house.
The downside: DeLuscious treats are stocked at Food + Lab, which as you see is less than a block from my house.
The Only Places I Know In Dallas
I have to say, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Dallas. The city itself is beautiful! It boasts neighborhoods in close proximity to each other, streets lined with trees, restaurants filled with friendly (and beautiful) people, rich dining experiences, fun spots to hang out, a unique fashion sense, cultural offerings, and a means to relax . Truly, it was pretty close to a perfect urban existence.
My first week in Dallas I feel like I explored a lot of what the city had to offer in Highland Park and Uptown. Below, you’ll find a list of the places I went (or considered going to).
Coal Vines - a wine and pizza bar with a fresh, delicious menu. Transitions from low-key casual dinner to trendy hot spot around 8.
Dream Cafe- a favorite casual brunch spot for locals
Goff’s - locals’ favorite hamburger joint
Hibiscus - rustic but formal setting for a fabulous meal
Javier’s - classic tex mex for cool kids
Local - a sophisticated, clean, American offering that would make any foodie smile in a “quiet” contemporary setting
Nick and Sam’s - convenient location with a good crowd, but the food is terrible
Paradise Bakery & Cafe - think Panera but BETTER.
R+D Cafe - from the creators of Houston’s, this cafe is more casual with great sushi and interesting salads
Sprinkles - designer cupcakes from Beverly Hills that are worth every penny
Steel - ”I can never say no to Steele” - “It’s so Dallas” quotes from two local fans of the modern, pan-asian eateryVictor Tango’s- diner goes trendy for the pre-clubbing crowd. Chicken and waffles and hamburger tacos make for a fun, but fair dining experience. Stick to the sea bass skewers.
Joule Hotel- Starwood hotel that houses one of Dallas’ hottest clubs (PM) and a hip pool scene, just like the W actually
Ritz Carlton- walk into the stunning entry way and prepare for the “meat market” bar, or enjoy a cocktail on their large, well- lit terrace where you can show off your kicks and relax with friends
ZaZa Hotel- boutique hotel with a creative luxury concept and fun, young scene. A favorite for visiting celebs and locals.
Higland Park Village - beautiful outdoor mall that houses all of the major labels with a few boutiques and affordable chains
NorthPark Mall - Indoor mall with the “better” Neimans and Barney’s
Deno’s - locals swear this is the best shoe and leather repair place in the state
FortyFive Ten- creme de la creme boutique in Highland Park with a fantastic selection of designer pieces for men and women, plus a lovely home section. Don’t both to visit if you’re not looking to drop a few bills.
Scoop - the NYC boutique with a selection of trendy and semi-affordable casual-wear in Highland Park Village
Stanley Korshak - think Neimans meets Barneys on a smaller scale
Tootsies - one of my favorite stores in Texas. Upscale and always a pleasure to browse
Barcadia - Dive bar with over-sized, adult Jenga and vintage video games
Coal Vines - Like I said, it gets packed in there
The Meridian Room - although it looks a little shady, I had a blast chugging free beers and listening to a southern rock band perform outside. I hear the food is good too.
PM - exclusive club inside Joule Hotel with pretty people who think they are pretty and djs spinning an eclectic mix that will make you want to dance
Other Stuff To Do
The Arboretum - I didn’t go, but even the locals visit when looking for a fun activity
Equinox- obviously I went and loved it. The group fitness and yoga classes were actually pretty good. I twittered that if you’re single in Dallas, you should forget the drinks after work and hit the gym for a selection of good-looking, physically fit, healthy men.
The Old Katy Trail - a running, biking trail that runs through Highland Park
Weekend Pool Hopping - the pool scene at the hotels is where you’ll find the daytime party equipped with djs spinning remixes you’d expect to hear in St. Tropez. Think Tao Beach Vegas but a lot more mellow. Check out the Zaza, Joule (where the pool extends over the edge of the building), the Ritz, the Crescent, and if you don’t mind the drive, The Four Seasons.(Photo via Jeff Clow’s Flickr)
Since he had Mexican last night, I took him to BBQ for lunch at Goode Company. His conclusion, “Is your first beef brisket, your best beef bristet? That is delicious.”