Warning: This post will definitely make you hungry!
I already told you about the 8 great neighborhoods I visited during my California vacay. Now I’m back to give you the lowdown on 7 great places where I dined in Los Angeles. When it comes to being a California foodie, L.A. offers an abundance of amazing restaurants and takeout shops for any kind of cuisine you desire.
While you may think that there are all Cali-style natural, free-range, organic, etc, etc, ingredients in each meal — let me say that there’s a reason we go on vacays – to indulge. You can eat in moderation when you get home. Plus when my son D or daughter A are making the recos I know the food is going to be fab.
Say Gjusta and I’ll be there
Seven years ago, I had one of my best-ever L.A. dinners at Gjelina in Venice. BTW, I liked the restaurant so much I bought the Gjelina cookbook when I got home — never made anything but it is wonderful to look at lol. When D suggested we eat at Gjelina Group’s rustic deli-bakery-cafe Gjusta, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Gjusta offers menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner — which evolve with the seasons and with the needs of the Venice neighborhood.
We opted for dinner and sat outside in the backyard where there are communal tables. Each dish was delish: Chopped Salad antipasto-style with greens, salami, Manchego, chickpeas, olives, and pickles; a Falafel Platter with Israeli salad of shaved cabbage, fennel, pickled turnips and topped with tahini, tzatziki, and harissa; and a Meatball Sub on a ciabatta baguette with pork & beef meatballs, Burrata, Parmesan and topped with Pomodoro sauce. It was all so good, so good, so good.
According to its website, “Gjusta sources nearly all of its fresh produce directly from its long-standing relationships with Southern California farmers, and most of its meat and seafood is sourced from local ranchers, fishermen, and co-ops. In addition, their team shops at five farmer’s markets throughout the week and receives deliveries daily.”
Ooh, ooh, ooh, we couldn’t leave without purchasing dessert slices of Banana Creme Pie and Rhubarb (my favorite) Fruit Tart.
It’s brunch all day at Bardonna
Late Friday morning, we drove to North of Montana to have brunch at Bardonna. The chefs at Bardonna believe in all day brunch and serve up essentials from breakfast burritos, bowls, salads, fancy grilled cheese and all kinds of egg dishes. There’s even an entire menu dedicated to toast. Like all Cali bistros, Bardonna has a typical Cali coffee bar “fully stocked with superfood ingredients to boost energy and fuel brain power.”
We placed our order inside and the food was delivered to our outdoor patio table, which is pet-friendly (another typical Cali-dining perk). I chose a Breakfast Scramble with perfectly cooked soft scrambled eggs, avocado mash, fermented chili sauce, tomatoes, and sourdough toast. It was so good, so good, so good.
There’s more than oysters at Broad Street Oyster Co.
Even if you’re not a fan of oysters there are many more enticing seafood items on the menu at Broad Street Oyster Co. Broad Street is known for its World Famous Lobster Roll, which is served either warm with butter or chilled with mayonnaise, and sometimes caviar and uni on top. Don’t you want to rush out to Malibu and taste one?
Located in the back corner of the Malibu Marketplace Mall, this mobile seafood cafe is a fun spot for super casual dining or takeout. Don’t be surprised if there is a long line to place your order. It’s a popular place. You might spot a celeb or two. Bobby Flay and his daughter Sophie showcased Broad Street on their recent Food Network series during their travels to L.A. hot spots.
Not in the mood for lobster, I selected Baja Tacos, which includes two flour tortillas stuffed with beer battered cod, avocado, coleslaw and salsa roja. Your on vacay Judi. Indulge Judi, indulge – I ate both tacos and downed every last homemade tortilla chip. Everything was so good, so good, so good.
Breaking bread at Tartine Bakery
The fresh scent of croissants and newly baked buns and scones will draw you into Tartine Bakery on a L.A. morning. Lucky Angelenos can choose from multiple Tartine sites. When you crunch down on a slice of Tartine sourdough or wholegrain there’s a real sense of gratification. That’s because the owners’ mission is to — “Bring bread with an old-soul into the lives of our friends in California.”
We ate a lunch at Tartine in Santa Monica. It was busy, busy. You order at the counter and the waitstaff brings your food to the tented outdoor seating area. My avocado toast on crusty grain sprinkled with sesame seeds was tasty. It was tough to resist the tarts, cookies, cakes and other confections under glass. They looked so good, so good, so good. BTW Bobby Flay and his daughter Sophie sampled Tartine breads too!
All Day Baby on Sunset Boulevard serves up diner fare
“I’m hungry, aren’t you?” asked my daughter A after we hiked around the reservoir in Silver Lake. “Me too,” I replied. A and I continued our hike down the hill to Sunset Boulevard. There we found a cute corner spot called All Day Baby. By day, All Day Baby serves up large portions of Southern food and hospitality, coupled with a touch of inspired SoCal-Mexican flavor. Its owners Chef Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta say: “We are a joyful feel-good restaurant, bakery & cocktail bar with the soul of a diner.”
For lunch I had a Wedge Salad with blue cheese, soft egg, and tomato confit. It was tasty but I would have preferred the buttermilk labneh dressingon the side.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, the pastry case was to die for. It all looked so good, so good, so good. So much so, that when we finished lunch we went back inside and bought a Mini Banana Cream Pie with dulce du leche; a Mini Key Lime Pie with a graham crust; and a large Chocolate Halva Cookie to share with dinner guests.
BTW more fun happens at night when Chef Whitener and Ta switch to a modern Vietnamese menu with Latin flair and turn All Day Baby into Tet-a-Tet. If you go make sure to book a reservation in advance.
Feeling lucky to score a reservation at Felix
If you’re looking for a special occasion dinner then Felix is the place. We felt lucky to score a Thursday evening resy at this upscale authentic Italian restaurant in Venice. “Latin for “happy” or “lucky,” the Felix menu is inspired by culinary traditions of regional Italy and enriched with ingredients grown by California’s greatest family farms.”
Be prepared to roll out the dough, or should I say dollars, for dinner. The cocktails and food are pricey and add up quickly. But it was D’s b-day celebration so we splurged.
There were four of us and we shared appetizers: Sfincione (foccacia with oregano and olive oil) and Fiori Di Zucca (squash blossoms & bellwether farms ricotta).
For pastas we ordered one from each region of Italy: Tagliatelle (OMG this is Felix’s famous $45 ragù bolognese with “vecchia scuola” & parmigiano reggiano pasta — at that price we savored each bite); Linguine Al Limone (with lemon & pecorino Romano); Pesto Pasta with Anchovies (was a special that night so I cannot remember the Italian name); and Orecchiette (Okay I had to look up all these ingredients. Here goes — orrecheta pasta with salsiccia sausages, spigarello greens, peperoncino hot chili peppers, and canestrato cheese.)
Dare we miss dessert? Absolutely not. Here’s what we ate: Caramel Budino and Olive Oil Cake with Seasonal Cherries. Note that most tables were ordering the Tiramisu which looked amazing too. Next time!
How was dinner? Almost as good as a dinner in Italy only likely 10x the price. OMG I miss Italy. I do. I do.
Cafe 27 in Topanga Canyon is worth the view
High up in the hills of Topanga Canyon sits Cafe 27. What a view that restaurant has – I could have sat at the high top table and looked out on the canyon all day. The comfort food menu has a unique spin with Cali spices and ingredients. It’s a perfect brunch place and gets crowded on weekends — so make your resy early. The Avocado Toast (topped with spellers pepper olive oil and radish) and Tuna Melt (mixed with cilantro and aioli) that A and I shared were yummy, as were the crispy sweet potato fries on the side. While waiting for your entrees I recommend sipping on a Vanilla Latte. It was so good, so good, so good.
There you have it. My 7 great places to eat in Los Angeles. Did you book your tickets to LAX yet? I may be going back next month. Do you have any favorite restaurants or food establishments you frequent in L.A.? LMK.
P.S. If you’re a fan of L.A., you’ll enjoy Bobby Flay and Sophie on the Coast. It’s on the Food Network on Discovery+.