Category Archives: Venice

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2018


It’s that time of year for blogs to make predictions, present year-end wrap-ups and bestow awards. In keeping with the custom, here’s my annual list of the ten best things I ate and wrote about during the past year.

Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar


10. Deep Fried Fluffer Nutter with Fresh Bananas from Black Market Liquor Bar. More chefs need to find ways to incorporate marshmallow fluff into their food.

Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialogue


9. Hamachi in Monochrome, Sweet Pea in Pastel from Dialouge. Three words: Off. The. Hook.

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix


8. Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano from Felix. Q: What do you call a fake noodle? A: An impasta. The Pappardelle at Felix is incredible and deserves better than that joke.

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali


7. Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp from Kali. Fermented garlic tea and wheat grass aren’t ingredients that usually come to mind when reminiscing about the best things you’ve eaten during the past year. Surprise!

Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca


6. Butterscotch Budino with Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies from Pizzeria Mozza/Chi Spacca. Fun fact: the word “Budino” originally referred to a type of medieval sausage. Now it’s just the Italian word for what we Americans call pudding.

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi


5. Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek from Shibumi. Those familiar with this blog knew there was going to be something Japanese on this list and also something on this list which is primarily pork. The exciting news this year is that these two things are combined!

Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca


4. Beef & Bone Marrow Pie from Chi Spacca. Think about the best pot pie you’ve ever eaten and how much you enjoyed it. Now multiply that feeling by ten.

Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You


3. Momotaro Tomato with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong and Creme Fraiche from Here’s Looking at You. A lot of people don’t know that a tomato is actually not a vegetable, but a fruit. This is the best fruit dish in LA.

Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger


2. Peanut Butter Meringue Pie from Pie ‘n Burger. I have nothing against apple, cherry or pumpkin, but it’s amazing to me that peanut butter is not the most popular pie flavor.

Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel


1. Foie Gras Halva with Creamy Pâté, Date Paste, Black Sesame and Buckwheat Loaf from Bavel. This dish combines the flavors of two of my favorite things: fatty goose liver and the the candy you buy at the cashier counter when you leave a Jewish deli. It’s the best thing I consumed and wrote about in 2018.

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Filed under Downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, Mid-City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Studio City, Venice

The Room Where it Happens

Thomas Jefferson is experiencing a pop culture renaissance these days. As the preening, scheming villain of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, Jefferson is portrayed in a surprisingly less-than-flattering way. But I was equally surprised recently to see homage paid to Jefferson at Felix, one of the hottest new restaurants in LA, where a portrait of our third President hangs on the wall of its temperature-controlled “Pasta Lab” and the kind of pasta machine used by Jefferson sits on display.

Jefferson apparently was a master gourmand and a huge fan of pasta just like Felix’s talented chef, Evan Funke. But while Jefferson preferred Macaroni and Cheese, Funke wows patrons with Pappardelle Bolognese, Rigatoni All’ Amatriciana and Gnocchetti with Oxtail Ragu. All are handmade and exceptional.

Although the pastas are the standouts at this Abbot Kinney Italian Trattoria, the anti-pasti (appitizers), pizzas and meat dishes are also excellent. I especially love the spicy Diavola Pizza with Pomodoro Sauce, Smoked Fior di Latte Cheese and Salame Napoletano. For dessert, I strongly suggest you order the super moist Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema, or you may find yourself asking “What did I miss?”

Felix is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles (in Venice).

Ricotta con la Vignarola

Misticanza Salad with Lettuce, Radish and Herbs

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano

Sottadita D’Agnello (Lamb Chop) with Peas and Herbs

Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema

The Pasta Lab

The Dining Room

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Filed under Venice

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

500 Days of Scones

Scones
Last year I rejected the hackneyed New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and instead I boldly declared my resolution to eat more pie. That was so 2012. As we begin 2013, I feel we are entering a new era, an era of both frightening uncertainty and cautious optimism (and I’m not just talking about the Lakers). Accordingly, my resolution this year is to eat more scones!

There is something very warming and comforting about a scone, especially when accompanied by a hot drink on a cold day. First introduced to the world by the the Scots in the early 1500’s, the scone is more popular today than ever. There are two basic kinds of scones: the “cream tea scone” and the “drop scone” (aka “griddle scone”). The cream tea scone is light and fluffy and served with clotted cream and jam during a traditional English afternoon tea. I prefer drop scones (aka griddle scones) which resemble biscuits and are crispy and slightly browned on the outside, delicate and flaky on the inside.

My favorite scones in LA come from Rockenwagner Bakery/3 Square Cafe and Bakery, helmed by Austrian-bred master chef and baker Hans Rockenwagner. Rockenwagner’s scones are insanely good and his varieties include Triberry, Ginger, 5-Grain, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Bacon & Cheddar and my favorite, White Chocolate Raspberry. I’m also crazy about the Republic of Pies’ Bacon Scone, which is surprisingly sweet rather than savory. Another unique scone is Short Cake’s Campfire Scone, which tastes just like a S’more and is topped with toasted marshmallow. Below is my list of the top eight scones in the city. Happy New Year!

Raspberry White Chocolate Scone

Raspberry White Chocolate Scone from Rockenwagner Bakery/3 Square Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, Mar Vista and Venice


Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood

Chocolate Pear Scone from Clementine in Westwood


Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood

Bacon Scone from Republic of Pies in North Hollywood


Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks

Maple Oatmeal Scone from Sweet Butter Kitchen in Sherman Oaks


Blueberry and Jam Scone from Bricks and Scone (403 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles)

Blueberry and Jam Scone from Bricks and Scones in Larchmont


Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer's Market

Campfire Scone from Short Cake in The Farmer’s Market


Ginger Apricot Scone from Susina Bakery & Cafe (7122 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles)

Ginger Apricot Scone from Susina Bakery & Cafe in Mid-City


Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

Oatmeal Brown Butter Scone from Sycamore Kitchen in Mid-City

3 Square Café + Bakery on Urbanspoon
Susina Bakery on Urbanspoon
Röckenwagner Bakery on Urbanspoon
Sweet Butter Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Fairfax, Larchmont, Mar Vista, Mid-City, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Venice, Westwood

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2012

Best LA Eats
2012 was a banner year food-wise in the City of Angels. Angelenos have never before had so many amazing restaurant options and I have tried to cover many of them on this blog. Of all the dishes that I wrote about in 2012, the following are my ten favorites; the ones that I happily dream about and crave pretty much all the time. Some of them were introduced at exciting and cutting-edge new local eateries this past year, while others are things that I have loved for years. Most are not “healthy choices,” so if you’re planning to make a New Year’s resolution to watch your weight, get to work; you only have a few days left to indulge!

Beef Roll

10. Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express I’m crazy about this Northeastern Chinese delicacy made of thinly sliced and braised fatty beef with fresh chopped cilantro and sweet bean sauce rolled in a fried doughy Chinese pancake. It’s salty, crispy, beefy and incredibly delicious!

Papa Rellena

9. Papa Rellena at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe This Cuban treat (which I finally wrote about this past year) is essentially a ball of mashed potatoes which has been filled with seasoned ground beef and deep fried; kind of a spherical mini Shepherd’s Pie. Muy delicioso!

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit

8. Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit with Maple Butter at MB Post Even if you live in the Valley or the Eastside, these biscuits are reason alone to travel to Manhattan Beach. Served hot out of the oven with soft and sweet maple butter, they are outrageously good.

Maple Custard Pie

7. Maple Custard Pie at The Pie Hole The only dessert to make the list, this is possibly the best pie I have ever had. It is the perfect combination of a sublime buttery not-too-sweet crust and an incredible caramelized custardy filling. I only wish they sold it year round!

Fried Clams

6. Fried Clams at Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub I went on a mission this year to find authentic New England-style battered and fried “whole belly” Ipswich clams (not strips!) and was surprised to find the real deal at this little Boston Irish sports bar in Santa Monica. They’re wicked good!

Cuban Torta

5. Cuban Torta with Pork Terrine, Prosciutto, Provolone, Pickled Jalapeno & Mustard at Sunny Spot Of all the amazing dishes at Chef Roy Choi’s creative Caribbean-themed restaurant, this mouth-watering, non-traditional version of a Cuban sandwich is my favorite.

"Philly Cheesesteak"

“Philly Cheesesteak”

4. “Philly Cheesesteak” at The Bazaar The Bazaar is one of my favorite restaurants in the city and my favorite dish is this playful take on the Philadelphia classic sandwich. It’s made with “air bread” and cheddar cheese, and covered with thin slices of Wagyu beef and finely chopped chives.

Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream

3. Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream at Eat Drink Americano Savory and spicy mustard ice cream may not sound appealing on its own, but once mixed with a delectable steak tartare, the resulting flavor combination is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before and out of this world!

"The Toron" Bäco

2. “The Touron” Bäco at Bäco Mercat Each of Chef Josef Centeno’s original sandwich creations called “Bäcos” are works of culinary genius. However, the best in my opinion is The Touron with oxtail hash, pickle, potato & cheddar cheese on Bäco Mercat’s signature flatbread.

Gougere Sliders

Gougere Sliders

1. Gougere Sliders with Fried Oysters, Tartar Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Arugula” at Little Bear These little sandwiches on Greyere cheese puffs combine cheese, dough, bacon and fried oysters, so it’s not a total surprise that they are my favorite dish of the year. I love them!

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Filed under Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Downtown, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Venice