Everything I Ate In LA

I visited my friends (aka adopted LA family) Michele and Andrew in LA this weekend, and if you watched my Snapchat story you would think I simply ate my way through the city. As a self confessed restaurant addict, I love that Michele and Andrew are the perfect friends to enable my addiction. I’d much rather spend my money on a beautiful meal in a gorgeous restaurant than on a night watching D-list reality stars party at 1 Oak. While I still have a long list of old favorites and new spots to devour on my next trip, I’d thought I share a glimpse into this little culinary tour de LA.

As soon as I landed , I went straight to Coffee Bean, as you do. There’s really no replacement for their Vanilla Ice Blended – I’m looking at you Starbucks. If your’e on the West Coast, you need to try one; it’ll ruin Starbucks for you forever.

Once Michele and Andrew were off work, we made a dash to an old favorite, Umami Burger. With convenient locations across LA, it’s delicious food and trendy atmosphere at an affordable price. No shrinking violet, I went straight for the “Manly Burger,” truffle fries and cheesy tots. A light meal.
The next day, I met my old friend Adam for lunch and a catch up at Mendocino Farms. Another affordable staple, it’s a quick sandwich spot right across the street from the Grove. I inhaled the “not so fried” chicken sandwich.
After wandering around the hordes of tourists at the Santa Monica Promenade, I pranced over to Dogtown Coffee off Main Street Santa Monica. I sipped on their famous sea salt caramel iced coffee in the perfect beachy surfer hangout, just steps from the beach. Totally worth the $20 Uber back to Weho.

 

For dinner Andrew and Michele introduced me to a new favorite, Honor Bar in Beverly Hills. It’s South Beverly Grill’s cooler younger brother, and a upscale casual spot to grab shared plates and drinks. I had the Osaka style sushi (stacked in a layered cube instead of rolled), fries and a margarita. Andrew and Michele had kale salad and the famous chicken sandwich. A weird combo, but super yummy.
Not ones to pass up dessert, we grabbed ice cream from Sprinkles and windows shopped around Beverly Hills. Nothing better than a scoop of Rocky Road and eyeing some Chanel.
Saturday morning, we punished ourselves for Friday’s feasting with a beastly hike of Runyon Canyon. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life on that damn canyon. Miraculously finishing the hike, we then headed to breakfast at Backyard Bowls. Capitalizing on the acai bowl trend, it’s a healthy option in the middle of endlessly hip West Hollywood.
Our healthy interlude was quickly interrupted, however, when we headed next door to Blue Bottle Coffee. Instead of just sampling coffee like normal people, we behaved like hobbits and had our second breakfast of poached eggs on toast. YOLO.
We napped off our breakfasts and thankfully didn’t have dinner until 9PM. Michele, the best hostess, had made reservations at Weho staple and celeb favorite, Cecconi’s. Owned by Soho House, the restaurant pleasantly surprised me. Most of these “sceney” places have horrible service and food, but Cecconi’s exceeded expectations. We dined on their beautiful patio (the restaurant is very glamorous and Mediterranean style), and devoured bruschetta, meatballs and pasta. The food was very authentic and damn delicious. My photos really don’t do it justice. Plus, we were one table away from Paula Deen. The quintessential LA dinner.
Before I had to head back to St. Louis, Michele took me to one more LA staple, Joan’s on Third. We tried their new Santa Monica location, and it was a perfect morning. Michele had the Chinese Chicken Salad, and I had Grandma’s Italian Sandwich – all under the sun right near the beach. Head there for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or to pick up prepared food, but whatever you do, make it to Joan’s. ┬áIt was the perfect goodbye to the perfect Angeleno weekend.
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The Best Sushi in LA is….

Surprisingly not at Nobu, Sugarfish, Katsuya or any of the other shi shi celeb hotspots in Malibu or Beverly Hills. In fact, after searching far and wide during my two and a half years in LA and becoming quite the raw fish aficionado, the best sushi I’ve ever had was in none other than the San Fernando Valley at Sushi Yuzu. (in a strip mall no less – quel horror!) I just moved away from LA back to the Midwest, and sometimes I wonder if I miss Sushi Yuzu more than the beach or my Californian friends. I kid, I kid.

The raw fish and roll paradise is tucked into a little strip mall next to the Trader Joe’s in downtown Toluca Lake. The place is teeny tiny, so you will definitely want a reservation. I love the unpretentious no frills atmosphere and friendly Japanese staff. The whole staff will yell hello to you in Japanese as you walk in, and it feels a bit like a Japanese Cheers. The atmosphere encapsulates a too legit to quit traditional sushi bar.

This little bar is the gateway to the best sushi of your life.

To start your sushi feast, you definitely will want order the garlic truffle edamame and crispy rice/spicy tuna. The edamame is pure richness, and you will want to lick the plate clean. The crispy rice/spicy tuna is the perfect melding of textures – and I cannot say no to anything with spicy tuna.

Spicy tuna over everything….

While the sashimi is excellent at Yuzu, I’m more of a specialty roll girl, and I recommend you get a sampler of a variety of rolls. You will probably have way too much food, but trust, it’s worth it. I am OBSESSED with the Asian roll, lemon roll and spicy popper roll. You really can’t go wrong.

Baked crab roll. Probably the least memorable roll, but still so fresh and delicious.

The Asian roll. Would consider giving up my first born for this.
The lemon roll. So light and refreshing. I’ve never had a sushi roll like this before Yuzu.

The spicy popper roll. A spicy tuna roll (do you see a pattern here?) with shrimp tempura on top. 

Ugh, I am salivating going down memory lane. Let me know if you make a trek to Yuzu when you are in LA, and have an Asian roll in my honor.

What’s In My Beach Bag?

On Saturday, I decided to head out to good ole Venice Beach to relax and celebrate the first day of summer. Living in LA, I don’t make it to the beach as much as you would think, since I’m lazy about making the trek (a whole ten miles, I know). Everything can be a hassle in this city, especially on the weekends when everyone is out and about causing traffic, so this weekend I was sure to plan ahead and make the effort to head to the coast before lunch time to beat the crowds. It was a beautiful warm day with an amazing breeze – definitely a day that makes you relish living in LA and our lucky weather. Of course, I am now burnt to a crisp (sunscreen, I’m sorry I spurned you!), but it was definitely worth feeling like I was on vacation and getting away from the city life in Hollywood. Below, check out some of my beach bag essentials, minus the ever important sunscreen. Some practical, and some not so much…

Cover-up (similar) – I picked up this fun cover up with lobsters all over it when my family went to Florida last summer. If I throw on a pair of shorts, I can get away with wearing it in stores and restaurants off the beach. Venice has lots to walk to nearby, so I’m always sure to bring clothes with so I can explore after hitting the beach. Plus, it remind me of a fun family vacation.
Sandals – I’m newly obsessed with these leather sandals from Madwell. I broke them in on my recent trip to London, and they are so comfortable. Definitely a chic staple for sand or city streets.
Foam magazine – Foam is one of my favorite magazines, as it’s a great mixture of surf culture, travel, music and fashion. A perfect fit for reading at the beach.
Kind bars – Hey, I like to snack.
Oversized sunglasses – Perfect for hiding my face, as I hate wearing makeup to the beach (don’t want anything to prevent my face from getting tan!). Also cheap enough that I wouldn’t be devastated if they were tragically lost at sea.
Wet hairbrush – This hairbrush is a miracle product! It is the only brush I’ve found that easily combs through wet hair and tangles without pulling and ripping at my curls. I highly recommend.
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream and Kai Hand Cream – A girl’s gotta stay moisturized in the summer sun, and these two products are some of my favorites and the most effective.
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Essie nail polish in “bikini so teeny” – I get bored easily at the beach (one can only look at the majesty of nature for so long), so I like bringing things to do – ie nail polish to paint my nails. This color is great for summer and the name is perfect for a day at the beach.
Cash money – Nothing is free in lovely LA, so you will definitely need cash for beach parking. I like to park at the lot at the end of Washington. It’s right on the water, and I’m usually too lazy to look for a spot elsewhere.

What are your beach essentials? Know of any great California beaches I should check out?

LA Vintage Shopping

This Sunday was so perfect because I literally had no plans. I slept in as long as I wanted after a fun night out in West Hollywood, then had the all day ahead of me without a single commitment.

Living in such a big city, I often find that I don’t take advantage enough of what LA has to offer. I get caught up in running errands, my job, my apartment, and just my own little bubble, so I don’t discover and relish this diverse, interesting city. Yesterday, I decided to change that and take advantage of both my lack of plans and LA’s great vintage shopping (unfortunately for me, but luckily for my wallet, it was all window shopping). Some of my favorite shops are on Melrose, in between Fairfax and La Brea, so I recommend walking along that area if you’re ever in ze City of Angels.

I started off at American Vintage. While they have a very photogenic sign, they also have a very large selection, and frankly I was just feeling lazy and didn’t have the patience to sift through all the clothes. So, I decided to skip out and head across the street to my favorite spot…..

Slow! Slow is so excellently curated, so not much effort is required to find some great items. It’s also very affordable, and not many items, other than their leather jackets/vests, costs over $50. 
As soon as you walk in you are surrounded by a chic bohemian rustic decor and a wide selection of denim cutoffs, in every shade, wash and cut. I was especially drawn to the light purple pair. Daisy Duke would approve. I have a feeling all the stylish LA girls hit up Slow for their Coachella denim.
A trunk full of colorful silk scarves, for those of us who can’t afford Hermes.
Some badass spiked statement necklaces. Love the juxtaposition of the girly pink with the tough spikes.
Now on to my favorites – cowboy boots! These boots are so affordable (all under $100), have unique detailing, so they aren’t too country for a city environment like LA. Plus, they are already worn-in and comfortable. No blisters or breaking in required!

I loved this pair with the snake-skin like detailing on the bottom. So interesting. I’ll have to pinch my pennies and see if these bad boys are still in stock before I see Zac Brown Band in October. 
If you’re ever in LA, definitely hit up Slow and the other stores along Melrose. Even if you can’t spend money (like I couldn’t today), it’s an entertaining, time consuming way to spend the day and experience the Hollywood neighborhood outside the cheesy/awful Hollywood Boulevard stretch. Just please don’t buy my boots…