Tucking my 5th trip to Los Angeles under my belt I like to think that I’m starting to get a sense of the city and it’s surrounding hot pockets of culture, food and fun. Who am I kidding, it’s LA and a new ‘it’ place seems to pop up on every corner once a week. Despite the ever-changing cultural map, here are a few gems that keep me coming back and are top of the list priority for the next time I get down there… (Yes, they are in order…)
Throw in the towel, just give up now because this is literally THE best place around and it really truly cannot possibly get better than this. I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and for this to be my winner as my absolute favourite restaurant in the world, I like to think that means something. I would go every week if I could and over my last visit went twice because it really is just that good. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a meal – fresh, healthy and shockingly delicious is what awaits in virtually every item on the menu. I can’t say that I’ve ever had anything but the turkey burger (which comes with the perfect combo of a pseudo-caesar salad with kale as the frontman and a savoury sweet potato hash) because I’m actually addicted to it and can’t bear the thought of not ordering it when I’m there. However, I have tasted a variety of other people’s dishes and between them and me, I’ve yet to hear anything but rave reviews. For those who doubt the power of fresh food, I brought a few of my sometimes picky eating friends there at the beginning of the week and they were literally begging to go back before we went home. Try it – you won’t be disappointed!
2) SHORT Cake
My most recent find has totally blown me away. Amidst the rows of colourful veggies and stalls of chocolate dipped everything in the Farmer’s Market is a decently large stand called Short Cake (near the West entrance closest to Fairfax). It’s window displays of decadent treats scream with cafe-charm which won me and my tastebuds over immediately. Their coffee bar is also definitely worth noting – one of the employees saw my friend and I drinking Starbucks and asked us what kind of drinks we had. He proceeded to make the most delicious and well-crafted latte I’ve ever tasted in my life, asking us to exchange our half-drinken Starbucks ones for his version which we happily allowed.
Must Taste: Latte (obviously), Zucchini, eggplant, tomato, caramelized onion, red pepper, olive and goat cheese open-faced toast, Seeds and Sprouts Salad, Peanut Butter Bar (didn’t have one of these but they looked pretty legit).
Oh Joan’s… where to start. I have to say that Joan’s more or less epitomizes everything I love about food and casual dining. The marketplace that comprises the inside of the cafe/deli/bakery/patisserie is chalk full of amazing gourmet products, all of which look incredibly appealing, making choices near impossible. I’m quite positive you could go every day and never get sick of it; between some fresh combinations and some new takes on classic dishes there is no doubt something to satisfy everyone here. The subtle french influences of the atmosphere are alluring and add a softness to the otherwise bustling shop.
Must Taste: Butter lettuce salad, fresh lemonade, pressed chicken, bacon and brie sandwich, crunchy peanut butter & jelly on toasted pain de mie.
I went to Mozza on a special occasion (my belated birthday – yay!) but the experience turned out to be a special occasion in and of itself. Growing up my brother and I were spoiled by our parents’ good taste and learned to love and appreciate gourmet food at an early age. With the craziness of the past few years (moving to LA, transitioning to school & university life in general) we hadn’t been able to be as adventurous as we had been in the past. This visit reaffirmed what a privilege it is to be able to enjoy such beautiful meals with friends and family authentically. Osteria Mozza is upscale, for sure, but has a very casual vibe. Maybe that’s just California in general though? Anyways, the menu was lengthy but in a good way and the Italian terms gave lieu to to-good-to-be-true descriptions by our waitress. A small menu devoted entirely to imported Italian mozzarellas was the cherry on top.
Must Taste: Burrata with leeks vinaigrette, Grilled Quail wrapped in Pancetta, Grilled Beef Tagliata, Orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard, Mint Chip Gelato.
You’ll smell it before you see it. The wafting scent of waffle cones, cookies, ice cream and chocolate dipped everything is enough to put you in a sugar-induced coma. But seriously, I dare you to go in there without buying anything because I really cannot fathom that being humanly possible. Manhattan Beach Creamery is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth and has the perfect treat for any time of day.
Must Taste: Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches.
Refreshing is the first word that comes to mind when I think about Lemonade, but for more than just one reason. In the most obvious way, Lemonade is refreshing because it serves a variety of lemonade flavours which change on the regular. Additionally, the chain serves up endless combinations of gourmet salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, all of which are beyond appealing. On top of the refreshing products, I found that the concept was rather refreshing as well. Coming from Toronto, it’s hard to find a lunch place that genuinely caters to all of my needs, those being a desire for fresh, gourmet and healthy food via a controlled portion/pseudo serve-yourself method that’s quick, easy, delicious and won’t break the bank. A lot to ask for, I know, but Lemonade delivers, which is why I can’t wait to go back!
Must Taste: Lemonade, Kale & Kumquat salad, Seared Ahi Tuna, Truffle Mac & Cheese
A small chain of local restaurants across Los Angeles, Creme de la Crepe is the place to go for weekend brunch. These small little stores manage to pack in a crowd and there always is one… From healthy omelets to dessert crepes, every choice is a good choice. DON’T leave without trying the homemade jam on the fresh baguette or toast! SO delish!
Must Taste: Healthy Omelet, Omelet de Provence, Bisous Crepe
The first ever store devoted entirely to cupcakes obviously finds a place on this list. These simple and sophisticated treats speak for themselves and a rotating menu with seasonal flavours makes boredom virtually impossible.
Must Taste: Carrot Cake, Red Velvet (also available in Gluten Free)
Hope you enjoyed & get a chance to stop by one of these amazing places & treat yourself to some amazing eats!
*Photos and logos retrieved from restaurant sites/google or are my own original images*