Category Archives: Hermosa Beach

Bread Winners 2016

Bread Winners
Amazing signature bread served warm to your table soon after you are seated and order.  Is there any greater welcome gift that a restaurant can bestow upon a hungry patron?  Great bread is often the reason for choosing a restaurant (or if you’re watching your carb intake, a reason to avoid a restaurant where you simply can’t control yourself).  Here’s my new list of the top 10 winners in the category of best signature bread in LA:

Garlic Cheese Bread from The Smoke House

Garlic Cheese Bread from The Smokehouse

1. Garlic Cheese Bread at The Smokehouse (442 W. Lakeside Drive, Burbank).  This is hands down the best garlic bread you will ever eat.  It’s salty, cheesy, garlicky awesomeness.  Enjoy it with dinner and martinis at The Smokehouse, the iconic dimly-lit, red boothed throw-back which has sat for the past 70 years across the street from the Warner Bros. lot.

Pizza Bread from Zane's

Foccacia Bread from Zane’s

2.  Foccacia Bread at Zane’s (1150 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach). A well kept secret of South Bay food lovers, Zane’s is my favorite restaurant in Hermosa Beach. Their herb-crusted focaccia is hot-out-of-the-oven, complimentary, and incredibly delicious. It’s served with a trio of dipping sauces: olive tapenade, hummus, and roasted red peppers.

Biscuits from John O'Groats

Biscuits from John O’Groats

3. Biscuits at John O’Groats in West LA (10516 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles). Hot, buttery, mouth-wateringly good biscuits are a key component of a hearty Southern-style breakfast. John O’Groats makes the best biscuits in town. You could spread on some additional butter and some sugary jam, but they’re also amazing when just eaten plain.

Grilled Pita at The Great Greek

Grilled Pita at The Great Greek

4.  Grilled Pita Bread at The Great Greek (13362 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks).  This is not the free (and good) bread they give you when you arrive at The Great Greek.  You have to actually order the amazing grilled pita bread here and it would be a Greek tragedy to not do so.  The pita is exclusively flown in from Chicago. Eat it with fresh whipped Hummus, tangy Tzatziki, or my favorite — Tarama, Greek caviar dip.

The Popovers at Neiman Marcus

Pop over to Neiman Marcus for a popover

5.  Popovers at Neiman Marcus (9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills in their Mariposa restaurant; also 6550 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park in their NM Cafe).  Who doesn’t like popovers?  The ones at Neiman’s are consistently perfect. Light, cripsy and flaky on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside.  Served with strawberry butter!

Za'atar Bread from Urban Garden

Za’atar Bread from Urban Garden

6. Za’atar Bread at Urban Garden (7563 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles). This tiny Lebanese restaurant near The Grove is a hidden gem that serves some of the best shawarma in the city. But my favorite thing here is the flat bread which is baked to order on iron domes and topped with olive oil and za’atar spice.

Cracker Bread at Angelini Osteria

Cracker Bread at Angelini Osteria

7. Cracker Bread at Angelini Osteria (7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles). I frequent this place, partly because of their famous Lasagne Verde and partly because of their cracker bread sprinkled with olive oil and rosemary. These divine crispy rectangles sit atop a complimentary bread basket, and I always have to ask for more.

Sourdough and Cheese Rolls at The Water Grill

Sourdough and Asiago Cheese Rolls at The Water Grill

8. Sourdough and Asiago Cheese Rolls at The Water Grill (544 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles and 1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica). These rolls are served warm and come in two varieties: one which is plain sourdough and one stuffed with a bit of melted asiago cheese. Both are crave-worthy and the perfect start to a yummy seafood feast.

Laffa Bread from Izhak Hagadol

Laffa Bread from Izhak Hagadol

9. Laffa Bread at Itzik Hagadol (17201 Ventura Blvd, Encino). The giant, puffy laffas at this popular Israeli restaurant are served piping hot and topped with a blend of Middle Eastern herbs, sesame seeds and spices. They’re best enjoyed by tearing off one little piece at a time and using it to pick up bits of babaganoush, red cabbage salad, or one of the other 18 dips and appetizer salads served here.

Rye Bread from Brent's Deli

Rye Bread from Brent’s Deli

10. Rye Bread at Brent’s Deli (19565 Parthenia St, Northridge and 2799 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village). You can tell a good Jewish delicatessen by the quality of the rye bread and pickles they give you when you arrive. Brent’s fresh baked rye has a soft, chewy and caraway seed-filled inside, as well as a crisp, crackly crust on the outside. The rye tells us that Brent’s is the best deli in LA and its bakers are mavens (experts) in bread-making.

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Burbank, Canoga Park, Downtown, Encino, Hermosa Beach, Mid-City, Northridge, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Westlake Village

The 10 Best Burger Joints in Los Angeles

Cassell's Hamburgers
If there’s one food that we excel at in Los Angeles, it’s hamburgers. There are no shortage of excellent eateries in this city at which to celebrate the holy marriage of grilled meat patty and bun, preferably with a thick slice of melted cheese, a whole mess of sautéed onions and a couple strips of bacon in between. It has been a life-long mission of mine to identify the very best of these local burger establishments. Here are my top ten favorites:

"The Burger" from Golden State with Harris Ranch Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar,  Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula and Ketchup

“The Burger” from Golden State with Harris Ranch Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula and Ketchup

10. The Golden State (426 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles) This little gem lies in the middle of all the hip hop shops and Jewish bakeries on Fairfax. All ingredients in their awesome burgers and other menu items are locally sourced from California including high-end Harris Ranch beef and award-winning Fiscalini cheddar.

Piku "Fig" Burger from Pono Burger with Housemade Drunken Caramelized Fig Jam, Organic Beef Patty, Fermier Brie Cheese, Niman Ranch Bacon and Crushed Hazelnuts

Piku “Fig” Burger from Pono Burger with Housemade Drunken Caramelized Fig Jam, Organic Beef Patty, Fermier Brie Cheese, Niman Ranch Bacon and Crushed Hazelnuts

9. Pono Burger (829 Broadway, Santa Monica) The funky looking metal structure that houses this joint (it looks like a mini airplane hanger) will draw you in. The Hawaiian-style burgers, sweet potato fries and salted caramel shakes will keep you coming back.

Chef Katsu's Original California Roll Hamburger with Snow Crab Salad, Avocado, Sushi Ginger, Boston Lettuce, Tomato, Nori, and Wasabi-Shoyu-Mayonnaise

Chef Katsu’s Original California Roll Hamburger with Snow Crab Salad, Avocado, Sushi Ginger, Boston Lettuce, Tomato, Nori, and Wasabi-Shoyu-Mayonnaise

8. 26 Beach Restaurant (3100 W. Washington Blvd in Venice) There are several places that have an extensive menu of over-the-top themed burgers such as a Peanut Butter & Jelly Burger. 26 Beach is the best of that lot. They are especially known for their “Sushi Burgers” including a California Roll Burger, and Spicy Tuna Burger and a Mori Eel Burger.

Cheese Burger from Pie 'n Burger with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Pickles and Lettuce

Cheese Burger from Pie ‘n Burger with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Pickles and Lettuce

7. Pie ‘n Burger (913 E. California Blvd, Pasadena) This old school diner with a long winding counter is a mandatory stop for me when I go to the Rose Bowl or am otherwise in Pasadena. As you can glean from the restaurant’s name, you’re missing out if you don’t order both a hamburger and a slice of one of their amazing pies.

Griddled Cheese Burger from Ledlow with American and Cheddar Cheeses, Red Onion, Dill Pickle, Dijon and Garlic Aioli

Griddled Cheeseburger from Ledlow with American and Cheddar Cheeses, Red Onion, Dill Pickle, Dijon and Garlic Aioli

6. Ledlow (400 S. Main St in Downtown) The newest restaurant of local superstar chef Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston), Ledlow is more than just a burger joint. However, their Griddled Cheeseburger seems to be the speciality of the house and has quickly drawn much-deserved acclaim from LA foodies.

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

Double Double from In-N-Out Burger

5. In-N-Out (all over Los Angeles) Yes, it’s a fast food chain, but don’t hold that against it. At $3.60, the Double Double is the best deal in town and is better than most of the pricey burgers at nice restaurants. I like to add toppings from their secret menu, including chilies, grilled onions and pickles.

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

Hickory Burger from The Apple Pan

4. The Apple Pan (10801 W. Pico Blvd in Westwood) This 68-year-old diner is an LA landmark. All seating is at a U-shaped counter, where you’re served by uber-efficient grumpy old men. It’s super fun, especially late at night, and their Hickory Burgers are awesome.

Cheeseburger from Belcampo with Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Cheeseburger from Belcampo with Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

3. Belcampo Meat Co (317 S Broadway in Downtown; also 1026 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica) It’s perhaps more of a gourmet butcher shop than a burger joint, but the cheeseburgers sold at this stall in Grand Central Market are phenomenal. They’re made with a special Wagyu-Angus meat blend and are served on fresh sesame seed buns. Belcampo just opened a fancier restaurant in Santa Monica where you can also get a burger, but I’m partial to the ones served downtown.

The Hatch Burger from Umami Burger with Roasted Hatch Chilies, House Cali Cheese and Roasted Garlic Aioli

The Hatch Burger from Umami Burger with Roasted Hatch Chilies, House Cali Cheese and Roasted Garlic Aioli

2. Umami Burger (multiple locations) In a short period of time, this revolutionary burger restaurant has expanded into a ubiquitous chain throughout Los Angeles and has been widely emulated. Their burgers are made from specially seasoned meat blends and their Portuguese-style buns are sweetened with milk and honey. It’s a toss up for me as to which of their burgers is the best: the decedent truffle burger or the spicy hatch burger made with four types of green chilies.

Cheese Burger from Cassell's Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

Cheeseburger from Cassell’s Hamburgers with House Ground Prime Beef Patty and Cheddar Cheese on a Parker House Bun.

1. Cassell’s Hamburgers (3600 W 6th St in Koreatown) This is my new favorite burger joint in LA. First established in 1948, this restaurant recently reopened in a cool retro space in the historic Hotel Normandie. Now under new ownership, their burgers have some similarities to the ones which made Cassell’s an LA institution, but are significantly improved. They are now the perfect combination of gourmet excellence and classic style.

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Filed under Burbank, Canoga Park, Downtown, Fairfax, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, Inglewood, Koreatown, Los Feliz, Marina del Rey, Mid-City, North Hollywood, Northridge, Panorama City, Pasadena, Porter Ranch, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Tujunga, Van Nuys, Venice, West LA, Westlake Village, Westwood, Woodland Hills

Not Your Routine Poutine

canada
Canada is the home of gold medal winning female bobsledders, an incorrigible rapscallion/pop star known as “J-Biebs,” and a corpulent crack-smoking mayor that bears a striking resemblance to the late great Chris Farley. But foodwise, the greatest achievement of our neighbor to the north is poutine.

For the uninitiated, poutine is Canadian fast food that originated in Quebec. It’s fries with a brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. A good plate of poutine is salty and unctuous, and perfect for late night binging, noshing at a hockey game, and consuming while listening to the song stylings of French-Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion.

LA chefs, especially those at local gastropubs, have been obsessed lately with poutine and have lovingly put their own spin the dish. Below are some of my favorite non-traditional poutines served around town, with a couple of more classic ones thrown in for good measure.

Chicken Tikka Poutine

Chicken Tikka Poutine

1. Chicken Tikka Poutine from Badmaash (108 W. 2nd Street in Downtown Los Angeles).

Bahn Mi Poutine

Bahn Mi Poutine

2. Bahn Mi Poutine from The Gorbals (501 So. Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles)

Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions

Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions

3. Galbi Poutine with Pickled Kimchi Onions from Seoul Sausage (11313 Mississippi Ave, Los Angeles in West LA)

Pastrami Gravy Fries with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles

Pastrami Gravy Fries (with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles)

4. Pastrami Gravy Fries (with Beef Tallow Fries, Pastrami Bits Pastrami Gravy, Melted Swiss Cheese and Chopped Pickles) from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles in West LA and 352 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles in Mid-City)

Truffled Poutine Burger

Truffled Poutine Burger

5. Truffled Poutine Burger from Umami Burger (Locations in Santa Monica, Studio City, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Hermosa Beach, Downtown, Burbank, Hollywood, Thousand Oaks and Pasadena)

Gravy Fried with Roast Brisket and Cheddar

Gravy Fries with Roast Brisket and Cheddar

6. Gravy Fries with Roast Brisket and Cheddar from The Bowery (6268 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles in Hollywood)

Poutine with Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers & Mushrooms

Poutine with Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers & Mushrooms

7. Build your own Poutine (this one has Ground Beef and Sauteed Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms) at Jay’s Bar (4321 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles in Silverlake)

Smoked Meats Poutine with curds and gravy

Smoked Meats Poutine with Curds and Gravy

8. Smoked Meats Poutine with Curds and Gravy from Little Fork (1600 Wilcox Ave., Los Angeles in Hollywood)

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar

9. Poutine, Oxtail Gravy, Cheddar from Animal (435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles in Mid-City)

Poutine Île-du-Prince-Édouard with mussels au gratin

Poutine Île-du-Prince-Édouard with Mussels au Gratin

10. Poutine ÃŽle-du-Prince-Édouard with Mussels au Gratin from Soleil Westwood and P’tit Soleil (1386 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles in Westwood)

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Filed under Burbank, Downtown, Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Silverlake, Studio City, Thousand Oaks, West LA, Westwood

I’ll Take The Fifth


While New York is a pizza city, LA is all about the burgers. Whether it’s In-N-Out, Father’s Office, Golden State, The Apple Pan or one of hundreds of other places, everyone has their favorite burger joint in this city. My favorite is Umami Burger. Named after the Japanese term for a pleasant savory taste believed to be the fifth basic taste (in addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter), Umami Burger opened their flagship restaurant (pictured above) this week in The Grove, which is the twelfth location of the ubiquitous chain.

Having been a frequent customer at the original restaurant, I am not at all surprised by Umami Burger’s success. The food is across-the-board excellent and the basic hamburger has been elevated here to something extraordinary. The burgers are made from specially seasoned meat blends grilled rare (unless requested otherwise) and served with cheese and other toppings on signature Portuguese-style buns sweetened with milk and honey. My favorites are the spicy Hatch Burger (beef with four types of green chilies and house cheese) and the decadent Truffle Burger (beef with house-made truffle cheese and truffle glaze). There are also pork, turkey, veggie, and occasionally seafood burgers, with each location offering different specialty burgers such as the Carnitas Burger in Hollywood and the Baja Burger (tempura fried cod, crushed avocado, cabbage slaw, fire roasted salsa and chipotle lime aioli) in Hermosa Beach.

All the burgers are on the smaller size so I often order two or split an extra one with a friend. There is a restaurant policy of no substitutions, although you can delete toppings upon request. Umami Burger has amazing sides such as sweet potato fries and tempura onion rings, plus there are secret menu items including truffle cheese fries and cheesy tater tots. Most locations serve beer and wine, and some have a full bar. For dessert, there are ice cream sandwiches and delicious treats from Cake Monkey Bakery such as Cherry Almond Pie and a Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Cakewich.

The new flagship Umami Burger is located in The Grove at 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles (Mid-City). The original location is at 850 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles (Mid-City). There are other locations in Hermosa Beach, Studio City, Santa Monica, Los Feliz, Hollywood and Thousand Oaks. UPDATE: SGVers rejoice! Umami Burger is now in Pasadena at 49 E. Colorado Blvd. Their specialty burger is the Le Cordon Bleu Burger, named after Pasadena’s famous culinary school.

The Hatch Burger

The Hatch Burger


The Umami Burger

The Umami Burger


The Grove Truffle Burger

The Grove Truffle Burger


Truffled Poutine Burger

Truffled Poutine Burger


Truffle Cheese Fries from the secret menu

Truffle Cheese Fries from the secret menu


Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries


Cake Monkey Cherry Almond Pie

Cake Monkey Cherry Almond Pie


Umami Valli

Umami Valli



Umami Burger on Urbanspoon
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Hermosa Beach, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Studio City, Thousand Oaks