Eating Our Way Through Los Angeles, California

20 Jan
2012

Full full full. We’re full of good food thanks to LA. Loved eating here. I think the food sold us on this town. Me at least. I could live here.

We get LA. The farmers’ market in January with multiple varieties of avocado? Yum. The fresh fish and cheap wine? Yum. The traffic? Meh. Not so bad, really. Pick a neighborhood and stay in it, just like in Chicago. You can even walk places. Here’s what we ate:

Library Ale House, Santa Monica

I loved how this place lived up to the California stereotype of serving chips and salsa before the meal. It’s a beer spot, not a taqueria, but we loved the chips. Beer selection was great. Food was tasty. This is the area of Santa Monica to visit. Let the tourists and shoppers have 3rd street.

Hollywood Farmers’ Market

So there are Haas avacados and there’s that other kind, right? The lighter-green ones you barely ever see. Nope. There are more, including a variety named “Bacon” and a handful of others. And you can buy them fresh in January here. Lisa swears she saw Russell Brand. I did not see Katy Perry, but I did see a retired woman with leopard-print dyed hair and a dude with a 2’x2′ flat of wheatgrass. California!

Thank you, farmers' market, for allowing us to make such tasty tacos.

Thank you, farmers' market, for allowing us to make such tasty tacos.

Thai Patio, Hollywood

Surrounded by other Thai places, we chose this one because of a positive rating on ChowHound. It’s a great spot to stop after visiting the Griffith Park Observatory — especially if you’re planning to climb the trail to the Hollywood sign after. But watch out for the fried tofu — it’s not for everyone.

Magnolia Grill, North Hollywood

This is our friend’s local diner. It’s great. Word is that LA has a great diner scene and this place was our introduction to it.

Coq au Vin, Cook’s Illustrated Recipe

This is a wine town, so we made this classic wine dish one night. Definitely recommend it.

IKEA Breakfast, Burbank

Man, we can’t get away from this place. The $0.99 breakfast special is surprisingly good. The Burbank Ikea is downright peaceful on a weekday morning compared to the Schaumburg behemoth we’re used to.

El Metate, Pasadena

I was in the mood for a basement dive bar, but it was closed, so we retreated to this Mexican spot for a quick bite. They serve a mega-sized appetizer that is basically the entire menu heaped on top of a plate of chips. It serves 3.

The Federal Bar, North Hollywood

Great spot with great drinks and food. I couldn’t resist the Federal Dog, which was delicious (topped with shallot onion rings, pickled jalapenos, and mustard). You can’t seem to go wrong here — everything was tasty. Felt a bit like our old home, Chicago (there are not a ton of old brick buildings in LA for obvious reasons).

Tough lighting for photos, but the food was amazing. This is the Federal Dog.

Tough lighting for photos, but the food was amazing. This is the Federal Dog.

Maria’s Italian Kitchen, Northridge

We took a bit of a risk and ordered a pizza here. We’d give it a B+ (LA isn’t supposed to be a great pizza town).

Mel’s Drive-In, Hollywood

Couldn’t resist stopping here (and we needed to stop or the traffic would have consumed us). We had breakfast with other tourists, industry peeps, and business men talking about web servers and profit margins. My poached eggs were perfect. Coffee was perfectly diner-y.

Sushi Yuzu, Toluca Lake

After taking a stroll through Toluca Lake and failing to find either J. Seinfeld’s or L. David’s residence, we had dinner at Sushi Yuzu. Lisa isn’t a fan of sushi, but this turned out to be a great pick. If you’re not into rolled raw fish, try one of the stir-fry dishes. And get the green tea. We loved how on at least four occasions, the staff recognized and greeted a regular arriving … on a Sunday night.

What did we miss besides Pink’s? We’ll be back! And next time I’ll take more pictures.