DineLA 2020 – Winter Edition

DineLA happens at least twice a year in Los Angeles; once in the summer and again in the “winter”.  A nice selection of restaurants from all neighborhoods have a prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menu selection ranging from $15-25 for lunch and $29-99 for dinner.  Dinners are usually 3 to 5 course meals so definitely worth the price.  I normally try to make it to at least one of the restaurants during this time.  Luckily, this year I was able to try two places.

I created a list of all the restaurants that peaked my interest to try for both lunch and dinner.  For lunch, I decided to try Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse.  This hidden gem is tucked away in Downtown Los Angeles.  Upon arriving, I immediately thought this place would be a good recommendation for the summertime.  There’s a bit of construction going on around the vicinity but the outside dining area gives a nice, unobstructed view of downtown and a cute little garden area nearby.  There was a good selection for the lunch menu.  For the appetizer, I went with the caesar salad.  For my main entree, I tried the oak grilled salmon atop marinated kale with a nice chimichurri sauce and my husband went with the short rib (my initial choice but I didn’t want to get the same thing). Neither meal disappointed although I will say the short rib was the better option to me.  It is a heavier meal for lunch so maybe it caters to a late lunch goer like myself.  The flavors were great and overall I’m glad I was able to make it over to this place.


For dinner, I tried Fin located in Culver City.  It’s an Asian-fusion inspired restaurant that offered a good variety for its dinner entrees.  $29 got me salmon sashimi, baked crab rolls and an 8oz ribeye with mashed potatoes.  Definitely not bad for the price.  I loved the smoked soy ribeye.  The marinade went perfectly with the steak and it was cooked quite well.  My husband decided to be fancy and ordered the filet mignon (not on the prix fixe) but it was good nonetheless.  I fell in love with the plum reduction sauce used a base for his dish. Overall, the ambiance was very nice and the food was very good but I must admit the service was kind of slow.  Maybe there were more diners out trying the DineLA options during the time I visited.  I will definitely be back to try it out again, especially since there’s a speakeasy located in the back called ‘The Alley’.  Looking forward to the DineLA summer edition 🙂 .  If you’re in the LA area during the next one, I would definitely recommend trying one of the many restaurant options that cater to every type of cuisine you can think of.

 

Yok Ramen

Okay guys, I have a confession.  After moving to LA, I’ve become overly obsessed with ramen.  I mean you’re thinking it’s just noodles and broth right?  In actuality, they’ve gotten really fancy with this and the combinations are unmatched.  You can have chicken or thinly sliced pork, flavored egg, seaweed, mushrooms, scallions, bean sprouts and even top it with cheese at some places.  The add-ons are endless.

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One thing I learned to appreciate about my job is the location.  I know the thing in LA is to either live by your job or live where you like to hangout.  I think I live in a pretty fun area but its not my best place for hangout options and although its technically close to my job since it’s within a 9-mile radius.  However, here in LA that can translate to an hour commute.  My job location actually gives me life in terms of the many food options I can have for lunch or after work spots.  Recently, I tried Yok Ramen located in the Sherman Oaks area.  For me, I’m always looking for a good broth.  The veggies and add-ons are all great compliments but the broth should be flavorful with good taste and just enough spice.

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I tried the Tori Tonkotsu and this entree did not disappoint.  I will say I have gotten used to a flavored egg and these were just like regular soft-boiled eggs but nonetheless the ramen was great.  I also tried the Hawaiian specialty fried Moa chicken as an appetizer and this was equally as good.  Flaky and fluffy with just enough crunch.  The Bruce Lee theme was very captivating as well.  Take a look at the pics below.

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Sweet Chick

Brunch always seems like a good idea to me.  On Sundays, I normally try to venture out and find new brunch spots but on this particular Sunday I decided to do a repeat.  Good ol’ Sweet Chick.  I was first introduced to this chicken and waffle staple in Brooklyn, New York.  Hop off the L train at Bedford Ave and just a few steps away is Sweet Chick in Williamsburg.  Why not do a repeat while on the west coast?

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Fairfax Ave is a trendy street/area in Los Angeles.  You can literally stop for coffee, grab lunch, dinner and or drinks, stop at Supreme, check out kicks at Flight Club or grab brunch at Sweet Chick 😊.  As you can see, I opted for the latter option.  Sweet Chick is very popular and known for their take on chicken and waffles.  You can get a classic waffle of course but why not try one of their many flavors like bacon cheddar, apple cinnamon or spiced pecan?  I was torn between the shrimp & grits or chicken and waffles; from the luck of the draw I went with the apple cinnamon waffle and fried chicken.  Probably the best decision I made on that Sunday was stopping for a bite to eat here.  Something about the perfect crisp of their chicken that gets me every time.  Not to forget, the three butters they serve with the waffle; regular, vegetable/herb and like a raspberry one I believe.  Try them all if you haven’t before.  Each offers a different taste that will not disappoint.  There are a ton of other entrees too that I still need to try So if you’re ever in LA and are looking for a good brunch spot, stop on Fairfax and try Sweet Chick.  Tell them I sent you 😊

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Gracias Madre

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If you were able to catch my last post, I talked about completing a fast which basically boiled down to eating only fruits and veggies for 3 weeks.  Since I’m a foodie at heart, I love looking for new restaurants to try so I just had to incorporate finding vegan/vegetarian options during this time.  I learned that this community is huge and LA offers a ton of restaurants catered to both vegans and vegetarians.  I often opted for places that had dishes like a Tex-mex bowl with rice, beans, sautéed vegetables, pico de gallo and guac. Anything with guacamole and I’m sold 😊.  This was the simplest route to take food wise and easy to find everywhere.  However, I did venture out a few times and stumbled upon some wonderful places.  One being Gracias Madre, offering 100% organic, plant based Mexican cuisine.

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Gracias Madre is tucked away in West Hollywood on Melrose Ave.  I’ve probably passed this place a million times and never noticed it before.  It kind of resembles a nice house from the street view but when you walk in you are totally taken aback.  The décor and ambiance is just so chic.   There was a lounge area with comfy chairs and couches adjacent from the bar area.  The outside dining area had communal tables with the heated lamps for those cooler days/nights in LA along with cute little tables for smaller parties.  From the outside, the space looked so quaint but once inside it was a huge space and very accommodating for the large crowd in attendance that day.

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To stick with my go to bowls that I’d been consuming, I went with Bowl Tres as my entrée.  This bowl has quinoa, kale, roasted squash, white beans, peppers, onions and pesto cashew crème.  Okay let’s start by saying the roasted squash was the best!!! The kale was also very seasoned and added a nice taste to the overall dish. Before I ordered this, the waiter did let me try the pesto cashew crème and I went for it and decided to order this bowl.  I will say I did not know the bowl was heavily dressed with that sauce.  I think sometimes dishes are overly compensated with a sauce to make sure we get a good amount of flavor and I probably should of asked for it on the side to be safe.  That being said, the sauce did compliment the dish well and I was pleased with this entrée.  I heard the drinks are pretty good too so I will definitely be back to give those a try as well.

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More noods please!

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LA is most known for its warm weather year-round.  However, many never mention how cool it gets at night which makes for a perfect time to have ramen.  I started having ramen first in New York which makes perfect sense for the weather there.  While in LA, ramen seems to be best fitting for a late night when the temperature has dropped to the low 50s or even during lunch on those days when its low 60s.  I was on a quest to find the best ramen and so far, I would have to say Kai Ramen has taken 1st place in my books.  I ordered Kai’s Red which is salt based and made with skinny noodles, sliced pork belly, a flavored egg, scallions, stripped black mushrooms, dry seaweed and flavored sprouts; also garnished with red onions. If I’m feeling fancy, I make it a combo and have gyoza potstickers, a salad and a drink for an additional $5.  For the drink option, please try their homemade lemonade.  Just a warning its super sweet but it reminds me a bit of back home when I have it so I always order it with my meal.  The flavors they’ve accomplished with this ramen cannot be put into words.  The broth is beyond perfect with its hint of spiciness, the tenderness of the pork melts in your mouth and the combination of veggies is so complimenting with the pork and flavor from the broth.  I can go on and on about this place.  If you’re a ramen lover like me, give this place a try.  If you’ve never had ramen and are dying to try it, give this place a try.  Kai Ramen does not disappoint.  Check out the gallery below.

 

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Another Day, Another Seafood Boil

If you cannot tell by previous posts, I consider myself a seafood lover.  Since Moving to the west coast, I think my preference for this type of cuisine has gone up just a bit. Not sure why but I could literally eat seafood of some sort in plastic bag drowned in lemon pepper, garlic and whatever house made specialty sauce the restaurant offers.  Sign me up!!!

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Once I moved to California, I liked the fact that I had time to venture into different areas.  Not the popular go to places that I hear about all the time but really stumbling upon other places that were just as good as the mainstream ones.  So here we have the Crawfish Spot, nestled in the West Covina area.  I forget exactly how many pounds of each that I had but crab legss and shrimp along with potatoes and corn is a must for a proper seafood boil.  I tackled this on my own this particular day and had plenty to spare afterwards.  The sauce was undeniably amazing and I tried to finish it all but unfortunately this was a failed attempt.  Here’s a peak at some of the best seafood I’ve had so far in California.  Spread the word.

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Meet me at Mel’s

Mel’s Diner is considered a huge staple here in Los Angeles so it was only right that I made a visit to indulge in some of the diner’s favorite go to entrees.  The décor gives you an Old Hollywood vibe while staying consistent with the ambiance of a true diner.  Busy waiters going through the aisles, a semi open kitchen to see the food being made fresh to order and the infamous jukebox in the corner awaiting a customer to drop in a quarter and select an old tune to take you back to a nostalgic time.

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I decided to try the French toast and my husband went with the old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.  You cannot go wrong with either choice.  Both entrees were great and just what we had wanted in terms of getting that real breakfast fix.  So far, I’ve seen 2 Mel’s locations; one a block from Hollywood and another in the Sherman Oaks area but I believe there’s a total of 4. The next time you visit California, I would be sure to make a stop here.  It’s open 24 hours and has a welcoming menu of pretty much any craving you may have.  Take a look at some of the snapshots I was able to get from Mel’s.

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Mc’Dowell’s: Home of the Big Mick

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For those who participate in any Halloween festivities, it’s all about the transformation into your favorite character or artist, trying new makeup tricks and showing the world just how creative you can get.  Well Fat Sal’s took this Halloween by storm by transforming their Hollywood location restaurant into the one and only, Mc’Dowell’s.  Also known as the Home of the Big Mick, the place where Akeem’s hard work earned him the employee of the Month in the all-time classic movie ‘Coming to America’.  This movie has to be one of the greatest of all time and to have this concept brought to life for Halloween was a remarkable idea.  We often stress over the perfect costume but to change an entire restaurant and offer specialized menu items from the actual movie was simply genius.

The workers of McDowell’s wore the exact uniforms that were shown in the movie.  All nice in plaid with the golden M stamped on each vest, matching plaid hats and black pants were worn by every employee.  Akeem was showcased as the Employee of the Month with a perfect portrait of himself smiling with complete joy for this accomplishment from a renowned prince.  To add to the ambiance, the movie played throughout several screens in the restaurant while you waited to order and staff members were kindly available to snap just as many pics as you like.  The menu offered the infamous Big Mick, Zamunda fries and the Sexual Chocolate milkshake.  I mean when I say they absolutely nailed this, I mean it!  I couldn’t man down both the Big Mick and the shake that came with a slice of chocolate cake on top so I opted to try the sandwich.  I was a bit hesitant to try this but it did not disappoint.  The Big Mick was made with cheeseburgers, lettuce, onions, pickles, fries and the “special sauce”.  The sauce added a nice flavor and the beef was cooked to perfection.  This place became so popular, even Drake stopped by to indulge lol.  I’m not sure how this could be topped but Fat Sal’s definitely won me over with this concept for Halloween.  If you couldn’t make it, live vicariously through me and take a peek at the gallery below.

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Frankland’s Crab & Co

Coming from the east coast, moreso NYC, it’s always good to find a place with a tasty lobster roll.  I remember in the summer mostly always wanting to find the perfect roll.  Well here in California, I stumbled upon Frankland’s Crab & Co.  Particularly during DineLA week in which they offered a nice lunch combo that included a drink and an ice cream sandwich; double win 🙂

img_0947So here we have it.  A nice, toasted brioche roll with succulent lobster meat tossed in a melted butter.  This sandwich literally melted in my mouth.  I mean pure perfection.  I was worried about the sandwich not being dressed since I was used to a mayo base but they’ve nailed it over at Frankland’s.  The homemade ice cream sandwich was also a hit.  Way to top off a cute lunch.  As I continue to let you in on my LA food adventures, please mark this one down as a place to try.  I will be coming back for sure!

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The Dog Haus

img_0952I am a true lover of a good dog; hot dog that is.  It’s my go to at the summer BBQ and any sporting event that sells them.  So when I saw Dog Haus and they’re specialty hot dogs, I knew I had to give them a try.  Not to mention their all beef dogs are served on King’s Hawaiian rolls.  This alone should be enough to make you want to try these.  Everyone loves that bread!

img_0955There are a number of variations to try and I went with the Old Town Haus dog.  This one has a smoked bacon wrapped dog with caramelized onions, chipotle aioli, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese.  Take about a specialty!  The smoky flavor of the dog mixed with the little extra heat from the jalapenos and sweet yet spicy chipotle sauce was a great combo.  I was also able to try one of their burgers.  I cannot recall which one exactly by name but it did have a fried egg on it which always works for me.  Not forgetting the cheese fries that accompanied this hot dog and burger.  Great choice for lunch or dinner and should definitely be adding on your restaurant to do list.

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