Category Archives: Santa Monica

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2022

My New Year’s resolution is to post more in 2023, but for now please enjoy my annual year-end list. Here are the 10 best things I consumed and posted about this year. Have a happy, healthy and delicious New Year!

Pretzel Bread and Mustard Butter

10. Pretzel Bread with Mustard Butter at Catch LA in West Hollywood. These incredible rolls are served hot-out-of-the-oven with a sweet mustard butter, and prove that sometimes the best things in life really are free (or, at least, complimentary with your meal).

Assorted Bourekas, Hard Boiled Eggs, Pickles and Tomato Dipping Sauces

9. Borekas at Bo-re-kas in Sherman Oaks. These savory Sephardic Israeli pastries with fillings such as potato & brown butter and cultured cheese & za’atar are one of the best things you can nosh on in the Valley.

Bahn Mi

8. Bahn Mi at Bahn Mi My-Dung in Chinatown. This perfect version of the classic Vietnamese sandwich is made and sold in a tiny, unassuming grocery store.

Brisket, Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, Korean Sticky Glazed Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage, Mac n Cheese, Slaw, Red Potato Salad, Pickles, Onions and Tres Leches Strawberry Bread Pudding

7. Barbecue at Moo’s Craft Barbecue in Lincoln Heights. It’s hard to pick just one menu item for this list from my new favorite Texas-style barbecue joint in town, so I’m just going to recommend all of them.

Green Slice with Caciocavallo, Spinach-Cream Sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano

6. Green Slice at Pizzeria Bianco in Downton. Believe the hype.

Double Cheeseburger

5. Double Cheeseburger at The Win-Dow in Venice and Silver Lake. Smashingly delicious!

Prime Beef Bulgogi

4. Prime Beef Bulgogi at Woo Hyang Woo in Koreatown. This Korean BBQ staple is elevated to a whole new level at a great, new-ish, high-end eatery in the heart of K-town.

Cacio e Pepe Bagel

3. Cacio e Pepe Bagel at Belle’s Bagels in Highland Park. Jewish meets Italian and the result is possibly the best bagel ever.

Lobster Hand Roll

2. Lobster Hand Roll at Kazunori in Westwood, Studio City, Downtown, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Downton and Marina del Rey. Shello, uber-delicious hand roll. You are clawsome!

Banana Leaf Flan with Sesame and Caramel

1. Banana Leaf Flan at Damian in Downton. Upscale Mexican restaurant Damian is one of my favorite new places and this dessert is flan-tastic! It’s the best thing that I consumed and posted about this year!

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Filed under Chinatown, Downtown, Highland Park, Koreatown, Lincoln Heights, Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Venice, West Hollywood, Westwood

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2021

What can I say about 2021? In many respects, it was a little better than 2020. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to not take anything for granted and to not forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And on the subject of simple pleasure, here is my annual list of the ten best things I consumed and posted about this year. I hope you enjoy. Happy New Year!

Crispy Ramen Egg from Afuri Ramen

10. Crispy Ramen Egg from Afuri Ramen. This is egg-ceptional.

“The Danny Boy” Porkstrami Sandwich from The Bad Jew stall at Smorgasburg

9. “The Danny Boy” Porkstrami Sandwich from The Bad Jew (at Smorgasburg). Some may say “oy vey” but I say “hooray” to this delicious pork pastrami that is certainly not kosher.

Chocolate Chess Pie from Goldburger

8. Chocolate Chess Pie from Goldburger. Checkmate!

Parmesan Crusted Halibut with Grilled Asparagus and Beurre Blanc from Porta Via

7. Parmesan Crusted Halibut from Porta Via. The math doesn’t always work, but in this case fish plus cheese equals awesome.

“The William Mae” Fried Chicken Tender Sandwich with HiHo Pickles, Organic Honey & Slaw Sauce and Purple Cabbage from HiHo Cheeseburger

6. “The Willie Mae” Fried Chicken Tender Sandwich from HiHo Cheeseburger. Who knew a chicken sandwich at one of LA’s top burger joints would be this amazing. HiHo is certainly no one trick pony.

Sticky Glazed Pork Shank with Shitake, Honeynut Squash, Hoison Mayo, Hot Mustard, Naan and Lettuce Cups from Girl & the Goat

5. Sticky Glazed Pork Shank from Girl & the Goat. Girl & the Goat is the best Chicago import since Cracker Jack, and this delectable take on on a Korean Ssam is my favorite dish on the menu.

Bacon-wrapped Dates stuffed with Parmesan from AOC

4. Bacon-wrapped Dates stuffed with Parmesan from AOC. Chef Suzanne Goin has been serving these incredibly addictive, salty and sweet morsels for almost two decades and I have been consuming them for just as long.

Zucchini Chips with Herbed Yogurt from Greekman’s

3. Zucchini Chips with Herbed Yogurt from Greekman’s. Q: What is a zucchini’s favorite sport? A: Squash. The Zucchini Chips at Greekman’s are significantly better than that joke. In fact, they’re pretty f-ing amazing! Easily the best vegetable dish I consumed this year.

Trout Almondine from Petit Trois

2. Trout Almondine from Petit Trois.  I’m nuts about this dish!

Strawberry Donut from The Donut Man

1. Strawberry Donut from The Donut Man. These are slightly tart, wonderfully sweet and perfectly glazed. And the good news is you don’t have to drive all the way to Glendora anymore as they are now also made and sold downtown in Grand Central Market. It’s my favorite thing that I consumed and posted about this year.

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Filed under Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Downtown, Glendora, Highland Park, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Marina del Rey, Mid-City, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2020

This past year was brutal for all of us, and the restaurant industry was hit especially hard. Like many of you, I have tried my best to support the eateries I love by ordering take-out or delivery. Plus I think we all need delicious comfort food now more than ever to make us feel better and provide a sense of normalcy. As in prior years, I have put together a list of my favorite ten dishes I wrote about (mostly via Instagram lately) during the past year. Here’s hoping for a happier and healthier new year!

Ube Creme Caramel (in the center) from Creme Caramel LA.

10. Ube Creme Caramel from Creme Caramel LA. This Filipino-inspired dessert shop specializes in different flavors of crème caramel. All are amazing but the Ube (purple yam) flavor is my favorite.

Bagels from Maury’s

9. Bagels from Maury’s. We are in the midst of a bagel renaissance in L.A. and these are some of the best. They are ideally consumed hot out of the oven with a scallion cream cheese schmear.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab from Rustic Spoon

8. Crispy Soft Shell Crab from Rustic Spoon. Crunchy, salty and crabilicious, this is my favorite dish at my favorite Valley Thai eatery. It’s served on a bed of Papaya Salad with a sugary Plum Sauce on the side.

Cheeseburger Potstickers from Ms Chi Cafe

7. Cheeseburger Potstickers from Ms Chi Cafe. These jumbo fusion dumplings made with Ground Chuck Roast, Diced Onion and Shredded Cheddar Cheese, and served with Tomato-bacon Jam, were a winning dish for Chef Shirley Chung on Top Chef.

Fried Clam Basket from Connie and Ted’s

6. Fried Clam Basket from Connie and Ted’s. Whole Belly Ipswich Clams are hard to find in LA., and the ones fried up at Chef Michael Cimarusti’s New England-themed restaurant are wicked good!

Bee Sting Pizza with Tomato, Soppressata, Chile, Honey and Basil from Roberta’s

5. Bee Sting Pizza from Roberta’s. Brooklyn’s most hipsterish pizza joint has expanded into Culver City, and this spicy, doughy, cheesy and slightly sweet work of culinary art is not to be missed.

Bread Pudding from B Sweet Dessert Bar

4. Bread Pudding from B Sweet Dessert Bar. In addition to her other incredible offerings, talented pastry chef Barb Batiste serves a rotating selection of 50+ hot bread puddings, each with its own accompanying sauce. My favorites are Salted Caramel, Glazed Donut, Banana Chocolate and Pumpkin.

Lobster Risotto from Melisse x Citrin

3. Lobster Risotto from Melisse x Citrin. There is no better place on the Westside to splurge for a special occasion. This fine dining establishment’s fixed price menu of gourmet delights changes every week and, when ordered to go, includes instructions on assembling each course at home. This heavenly Risotto was from their “Lobster, Lobster, Lobster” set menu.

Dulce de Leche Besito Cookies from Porto’s Bakery

2. Dulce de Leche Besito Cookies from Porto’s Bakery. “Besito” means “kiss” in Spanish and I am head-over-heels in love with these Cuban buttery cookies filled with gooey thick caramel and dusted with powdered sugar.

Uni Pizza with Santa Barbara Uni, Uni Cream Butter, Mushrooms and Truffle Oil from The Joint Eatery

Uni Pizza from The Joint Eatery. This gourmet seafood restaurant and market offers a seafood-themed pizza on Sundays. Every version of this pizza I’ve ordered there has been amazing, but the one that they occasionally make with Uni, Mushrooms and Truffle Oil is transcendent. It’s the best thing I consumed in 2020.

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Filed under Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Glendale, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Village, West Covina, West Hollywood, West LA

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to wax poetic on my 10 favorite things that I ate and wrote about this year. Here are the winners:

Mashed Avocado with Watermelon Radish, Sprouts, Grape Seed Oil, Red Pepper Flakes and Lemon on Pumpernickel from Alfred Coffee (it’s only served in the Silver Lake location)

10. Avocado Toast from Alfred Coffee. Although usually referred to as a vegetable, an avocado is actually a fruit. This fruit and bread combo is the best in the City.

Brown Butter Mochi from Porridge + Puffs

9. Brown Butter Mochi from Porridge and Puffs. “Aloha” is Hawaiian for hello, goodbye and love. I aloha this dessert.

Focaccia from Triple Beam Pizza (and served at Hippo)

8. Focaccia from Triple Beam Pizza. Saying that a delicious, can’t-get-enough-of-it food is “like crack” is the most overused expression in food bloggerdom. This focaccia bread is like heroin.

Sweet Corn Cappellacci with Funghi Misti and Fresh Thyme from Hippo

7. Sweet Corn Cappellacci from Hippo. Q: What does corn say when it receives a compliment? A: Aw, shucks. The Corn Cappellacci at Hippo is much better than this joke.

Iceberg Salad with Grilled Thick Cut Smoke Bacon and Danish Blue Cheese from APL

6. Iceberg Salad from APL. This is the first time a salad has made my annual list. But in all fairness, it’s basically a giant, thick slice of smoked bacon and gobs of incredible Danish blue cheese, accompanied by some lettuce.

Fried Chicken from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

4 (tie). Fried Chicken from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Three words: Finger. Lickin’. Great.

Smokey Frid Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

4. (tie). Smokey Fried Chicken from Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. Also finger lickin’ great.

Morning Bun from Tartine Sycamore

3. Morning Bun from Tartine Sycamore. I agree with Ellen Degeneres who said “I don’t think I really need buns of steel; I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.” While Tartine Manufactory closed this month, these awesome buns of cinnamon, caramelized sugar and orange zest can still be found in LA at sister restaurant Tartine Sycamore.

Pastrami Reuben from Freedman’s

2. Pastrami Rueben from Freedman’s. I love Ruebens so much that I married one (although technically my wife’s maiden name is spelled Rubin). This Pastrami Rueben is not as good as my wife, but is pretty awesome nonetheless.

Dry Aged Tomahawk Chop from APL

1 . Dry Aged Tomahawk Chop from APL. Smells like foie gras. Tastes like truffles. Costs a fortune but worth every penny. It’s the best thing that I consumed and wrote about in 2019.

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Filed under Downtown, Echo Park, Highland Park, HIstoric Filipino Town, Hollywood, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Silver Lake, West LA

10 Best Fried Chicken Joints in LA

There is no better comfort food than fried chicken. Crispy and unctuous on the outside and hot and juicy on the inside, it makes you forget your troubles with every bite.

However, all fried chicken is not created equal. In our sprawling metropolis, there are several blue-ribbon eateries producing truly exceptional finger-lickin’-goodness that stands out from the rest. After conducting years of extensive research on the topic, here are my top 10 favorites:

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

#1 (tie) Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (1262 Crenshaw Blvd in Mid-City Los Angeles, 509 S Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, and 2580 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach). Gus’s, a small chain originating in Tennesee, serves Memphis-style spicy fried chicken which is perfect in every way. Served atop a slice of white bread, these insanely amazing drumsticks, wings, thighs and breasts are accompanied by traditional Southern sides such as mac n cheese, greens and baked beans.

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

#1 (tie) Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (1800 Sawtelle Blvd in West LA, 351 N Fairfax Ave in Mid-City LA, 1401 Ocean Ave #104 in Santa Monica, and 1111 Wilshire Blvd in the Westlake district adjacent to Downtown). While Gus’s fried chicken is a traditional Southern type, the other top winner on my list, the Smokey Fried Chicken at Plan Check, is the opposite. It’s an elevated gourmet version of the dish marinated in buttermilk brine, fried in beef tallow and severed with Smoked Milk Gravy, Yam Preserves and Spicy Pickled Okra. It’s my favorite dish on the menu and real show-stopper.

Howlin’ Ray’s

#3 Howlin’ Ray’s (727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles in Chinatown/Downtown). Located amid the souvenir shops and Chinese herb merchants in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown, Howlin’ Rays serves Nashville-style Hot Chicken. This place is so popular — and so incredibly good — that the wait in line can often take two hours or more. I don’t love waiting in lines, but this place is definitely worth it.

OB Bear

#4 OB Bear (3002 W 7th St, Los Angeles in Koreatown). This tavern in K-town serves the most awesome Korean fried chicken. Enjoy it with pickled radish, cabbage salad, a seafood leek pancake and a couple of nice cold Korean beers.

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken

#5 Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken (9537 Culver Blvd, Culver City). This Culver City mainstay serves expertly cooked and super yummy Southern-style fried chicken made with high-end ingredients. I order mine with biscuits, honey, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Dave’s Hot Chicken

#5 Dave’s Hot Chicken (970 N Western Ave, Los Angeles in East Hollywood). Spice is the name of the game at Dave’s and if you love your chicken eye-tearing, lip-burning, brow-sweating spicy, then this is the place for you. But even if you wimp out and order your bird mild, you will be impressed with the deliciously seasoned Nashville-style chicken.

Golden Bird

#7 Golden Bird (8300 S Western Ave in Inglewood, 2847 Crenshaw Blvd in West Adams, and 13501 S Avalon Blvd in Gardena). This Southern fried chicken chain in South LA is a sentimental favorite of many Angelenos and has been serving delicious fried chicken and soul food sides and desserts (including Sweet Potato Pie and 7-Up Cake!) since 1953. The mouth-watering batter here reminds me of my personal childhood favorite, Pioneer Chicken.


#8 Pikunico (767 S Alameda St Suite 122, Los Angeles in Downtown). Newly opened in the uber-hot Row DTLA complex, Pikunico serves excellent gourmet Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) which is free range, gluten-free and made with locally sources ingredients. It’s served with house-made assorted pickles, three gourmet sauces (Daikon Ponzu Oroshi, Lemon Aioli, and Parsley Sesame Sauce) and your choice of Ginger Onigiri or Fingerling Fries.

Dinah’s Family Restaurant

#9 Dinah’s Family Restaurant (6521 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles in Westchester). This old school diner is an LA institution famous for their fried chicken (as well as their giant German pancakes). It’s perfect for a meal of fried chicken and waffles or as your first stop after landing at nearby LAX.

Anzu Japanese Gourmet

#10 Anzu Japanese Gourmet (11270 La Grange Ave in West LA) Even if you are a frequent visitor to the Japanese restaurants and shops on Sawtelle, you may not be aware of Anzu. Located just off of the main drag, it’s simply a tiny window with very limited seating outside where you can purchase some of the best Japanese fried chicken in the city.

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Filed under Burbank, Chinatown, Culver City, Downtown, East Hollywood, Gardena, Inglewood, Koreatown, Long Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, West Adams, West LA, Westchester, Westlake