City of Angels

It’s always disappointing when a much-anticipated vacation comes to an end.

With far too much time in between visits with my west coast friends, I cherish these long weekends and memorable times.

My friend was a fabulous hostess, making reservations at some of the best restaurants, carting me all over town to discover the most drool-worthy boutiques, and ensuring that we were doing things that were fun and different from my previous trips to LA.

In addition to eating and shopping, I had the pleasure of trying a class at The Bar Method, taught by one of our other college friends; we also took an insane yoga class at Maha Yoga, where the instructor pumped Jay-Z and Rihanna while we held our downward dog. It felt great to step out of my normal routine and try something new!

It basically goes without saying that one of my favorite parts of traveling is tasting the cuisine in different parts of the country or the world. The one thing I notice each time I’m in LA is that there seems to be countless cafes and restaurants offering incredibly healthy options, with farm-fresh, local ingredients, that still taste delectable. That’s not to say that we ate that way the entire weekend, but I appreciate the abundance of places offering “California-cuisine”, versus the scarcity of these types of restaurants in almost every other U.S. city.

As I take you through an overview of my trip, you will see that there was no shortage of great food in the City of Angels.

The weather was cool, but sunny and gorgeous, and absolutely nothing to complain about.
Dinner at Father’s Office doesn’t come without some major table-hawking with their no-wait list, first-come-first-serve seating policy. Don’t go without getting the burger, which includes Gruyère cheese, applewood bacon, and arugula – no catsup or substitutions available. Be sure to check out their extensive beer selection.
Honey Vanilla Latte at Urth Caffé really gets me going!
Lunch at A Votre Sante next to the Brentwood Country Mart featured the fresh and natural dishes that embody the California-cuisine. The Grilled Falafel Wrap with hummus and veggies, and the Egg White Frittata were the perfect start to my first day in LA.
The Candy Alley – adorable and highly enticing candy shop that has been around for years!
Dinner at the newish and trendy Mercato di Vetro in West Hollywood had great food, amazing drinks, and equally as good people-watching. The Blood Orange Martini with jalepeno and cilantro was crazy and definitely won the “Most Unique Drink” award. Also delicious was the Kale Crostini with ricotta, pine nuts, and currants, as well as the Burrata with Balsamic Grapes.
On Sunday we perused Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice and then stopped in to Gjelina for a late lunch. The chill, beachy vibe around those parts is enough to put anyone in a good mood. The always-packed Gjelina offered us two seats at the communal high tables, but not before an hour wait. But the cool feel and impeccable food is worth waiting for. A salad of Escarole with Sunchokes, Smoked Almonds with Preserved Lemon & Parmesan was a light and refreshing starter. We followed that with a dish of Farro, Poached Egg, Tahitian Squash, and Black Trumpet Mushrooms with Sage Pesto, as well as a side of Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Dates & Vinegar. Gjelina is a MUST TRY when visiting LA.
I’ve had a long-standing love for peace signs. This affinity began during my more free-spirited days and has stuck with me ever since. Because of this, naturally, I loved Pace Restaurant (meaning peace in Italian) which is tucked away in Laurel Canyon. The cozy spot, which displays peace signs throughout the restaurant, serves straight-forward dishes made with only organic produce and locally sourced ingredients. Pace’s famous cedar wood grilled salmon seasoned with shallots, fresh herbs, lemon juice and olive oil was so tasty and perfectly flaky. And the Insalata Vegetable was loaded with several delicious vegetables, perfectly chopped, and tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. Make sure to place your order for the chocolate soufflé cake with your entree since extra baking time is required.
A delicious and healthy after-workout treat – Pressed Juicery. The almond milk was to-die-for and tasted like a milkshake!
We enjoyed a nice lunch outside at the adorable Clementine. The premade pasta and vegetable salads in the case looked tempting, but probably don’t compare to the Hudson’s Deluxe French Onion hot sandwich that I devoured for my lunch. Braised beef brisket topped with Gruyère, and caramelized onions, with a dipping jus sauce was pure heaven. The meal was topped off with the most incredibley soft oatmeal sandwich cookie with vanilla filling.
Baked (not fried) Strawberry donut at Fonuts (pronounced faux-nuts). It was shockingly light and fluffy.
The last night of my trip we dined at Milo & Olive, a new pizza restaurant and bakery in Santa Monica. As someone who loves to cook, nothing was more fun than sitting at the pizza bar, observing the hustle and bustle of the open kitchen. As one guy prepped the appetizers, a few others assembled the pizzas, and across the kitchen someone was heating fresh tomato sauce in a frying pan as it was needed. It was quite the operation. Everything I tasted was incredible. From the Roasted Vegetable Salad, to the Mixed Mushroom Pizza, everything was impressive. And the Free Range Chicken Meatballs. OMG the meatballs – the sauce, the seasoning – they really perfected the chicken meatball!

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