One of my best dining experiences ever was at Downey's. Food is exquisite atmosphere is intimate, whether local or on travel, this is a can't miss!
So we walked to Brian's the other evening for dinner. I got the ribeye, which was delicious, like everything else there. Just one thing about my meal seemed off...
My ribeye was garnished not just with the usual sauteed mushrooms, but also with a gigantic strawberry.
Yep, there was a gigantic strawberry rolling about on my steak.
Which made me wonder, is this a normal garnish for a steak? Or did the strawberry maybe fall off of someone's fruit salad onto my meat?
We went to Lucky Buck's on University tonight. I'm a huge meat person, but not that big of a burger person, but I was definitely impressed.
My fiancé had a Southwestern burger, which involved vast amounts of guacamole, bacon, and chipotle mayo; I had a burger covered in bleu cheese and bacon. Both of our burgers were enormous, delicious, and cooked exactly to our preference--his medium rare, mine bleeding copiously. The service was friendly and cheerful, and the drinks were strong and lovely :) Definitely check this place out if you're down in Hillcrest!
1725 Carson Street, Suite B
Torrance, CA 92780
I went with a bunch of friends to Musha on Monday.
Their food is best described as "Japanese fusion" and "crazy delicious." They're sort of like tapas; mean to be shared and tasted. The eight of us ordered two each of five dishes and left satisfied.
We started with the bean thread salad, then moved on to the egg and noodle soufflé. We lingered over the clam udon and the roasted pork. We finished with the risotto with Parmesan cheese, which was my favorite dish. They serve it tableside in a giant wedge of cheese and stir in the melting cheese to your taste.
And we paid $13 each!
I think this restaurant is a great bargain for the money -- on top of which, they have Scope in the bathroom!! I love a restaurant that cares as much about oral hygiene as I do.
I would definitely recommend Musha for a casual dinner with a few friends.
Trattoria La Strada
702 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
If you've never been to the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego, then you're missing out. It's one of my favorite places to hang out--friendly with a hip young crowd and lively. And Trattoria La Strada is in the center of it all. I took my boyfriend here for a nice birthday lunch because the man loves his pasta. San Diego always has great weather so we opted to sit in the patio area--great place to people watch and enjoy the warm summy weather.
The restaurant itself is elegant but not stuffy. The staff were friendly and accomodating. And the food was phenomenal. We had a large serving of calamari--which was cooked lightly and went great with the spicy tomato sauce. We also had some grilled Tuscan bread topped with tomatoes, basil and garlic.
For our entrees, I had homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. My boyfriend had spaghetti with meat ragout Bolognese style. The servings were large and very filling and all were spiced just right. I didn't think I had enough room for dessert, but after reading their menu I knew I had to have at least a little room left.
Of course, it wouldn't be a complete Italian course if I didn't have tiramisu and cannoli. All homemade. Needless to say, we both ended up having food coma--but a very well enjoyed one at that.
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
I find Greek cuisine as one of the heartiest and healthiest food choices all around. And recently, one of our Greek friends just had her birthday and it was a no-brainer to check out Petros as it was just named "Top New Restaurant" by Zagat (and rightfully so). We made reservations a week ahead of time for a party of 12 but later we find out that there were "reservation discrepancies" and had to wait an hour until they straightened things out. Well, what else can you expect from a popular restaurant on a Saturday night. Anyway, to accomodate us, they served us with a $100 worth of appetizers for free--not bad at all.
For appetizers, we had several Nikos Saganaki (lovely sesame-crusted feta cheese drizzled with honey), Spanakopita (light phyllo stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, dill and green onions with serving of tzatziki* and olives), some dip combo served with grilled pita (the combo includes: Kafteri**, Olivada¹, Tzatziki*, Melitzanosalata² and Fava³) and some fresh Feta Bruschetta salad.
For the main course, I ordered the sauteed Lavrake--sea bass with this tasty sauce (which I think is made from artichoke hearts), artichokes, carrots, green onions, and dill. The fish was cooked just right--soft and juicy with all its flavors preserved. My boyfriend had the Roast Chicken stuffed with feta cheese and I believe some spinach, served with potatoes, romano beans, lemon and oregano. The chicken wasn't dry at all and it was tender with juices gushing out with every slice.
For dessert, I ordered Baklava which was just heavenly! It's sweet phyllo with almonds, walnuts, and pistachio topped with vanilla ice cream. They also have great homemade ice cream.
Overall, all of us enjoyed our food and drinks. Our waitresses were knowledgeable about the choices of wine they had and the atmosphere itself was lively. Its decor is crisp and white--it's just like we were in Greece. Santorini maybe--for one night at least.
* yogurt, cucumber, lemon and garlic
** four greek cheese with hot peppers
¹ greek olive, extra-virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes
² roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon and walnuts
³ yellow split pea puree, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, tomato and onion
P.S. I gave it 4 1/2 stars only because of the one hour wait. Other than that it's 5 Stars! :)
5258 E. Second Street
Long Beach, CA 90803
I love Mediterranean food. And I love how you can go to so many different restaurants with so many different national affiliations and still get certain classics.
Example: Open Sesame is Lebanese cuisine. They have the best chicken shawarma EVER. Chicken shawarma is a dish I've seen at many different restaurants -- Armenian, Turkish -- and I even saw it in Kazakhstan (yes, I knew about KZ before Borat. I was there for a two-week church mission trip).
Most of their entrees are served with hummus and pita bread, a delightfully tangy garlic butter, a delicious tabbouleh (which they simply call "parsley salad"), and Lebanese pickles. SO GOOD.
Their hummus is great, too; so creamy, with a great nutty flavor.
I hear that their beef and lamb are also good, but I love their chicken shawarma so much that I get it every single time -- which adds up to a lot of chicken over the years.
If you're in the area, you really ought to give it a try. If you don't like it, you can take it up with me personally. I live very close by.
And if you want someone to go with, I'm always down to eat some chicken shawarma!! ;)
1001 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006
My sister returned from an archaeological dig in Jordan late Saturday night. After eating nothing but hummus and falafel for a month, I figured she'd be in the mood for some good Korean eats.
It was close to midnight before we left LAX, so we didn't have many options; there's some good Korean food in Torrance/Gardena, but those places all close at 11pm at the latest. There's another good place in Hawaiian Gardens, near our house, but: also closed.
So, of course, we had to hit up K-Town.
Hodori is well-known as an after-clubbing joint. Even though we aren't the clubbing type, we still love after-clubbing fare.
Hodori's menu is a hodgepodge of Korean comfort food favorites: duk bokee (chewy rice cakes in a spicy sauce), bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef), kalbi (Korean short ribs), udon (Japanese noodles), duk mandu gook (hot soup with chewy rice cakes and wonton dumplings) -- there's something for everyone!
We ordered the dolsot bibimbap (rice mixed with veggies, beef, and egg, served in a hot stone bowl -- the rice at the bottom of the bowl gets more or less fried; SO delicious) and mool naengmyun (cold buckwheat noodles in a cold beef broth -- I like to add lots of vinegar and a dash of hot mustard) and split it.
Man, I could not have made a better call. The food was excellent; the perfect homecoming treat for my sis. The portions are pretty big; even with two of us, we had leftovers.
If you're ever in K-Town and want a late, late dinner, Hodori is the place to be!
I haven't been to Wahoo's in a while, but some friends wanted to go last week, so we hit it up.
Man, it's good!! Black beans and rice... blackened fish... it's tha BOMB!!
If you ever go, be sure to try the blackened fish. Their beef and chicken are good, too, but they don't call it "Wahoo's Fish Tacos" for nothing!