4 Day Food Tour of Los Angeles

Recently I found myself on a trip to Los Angeles thanks to a professional obligation and some personal stuff. Since it was a long weekend on account of Martin Luther King Day, I made the most of having to be out in the sunny California weather for business and got myself there Thursday night to front-load my weekend with fun.

Due to a set of strange but appropriate-for-me circumstances, involving a non-lethal stabbing and health-related family obligations, I’ve found myself in a long distance relationship with a man who is currently living in Santa Monica. This seemingly frustrating situation works out surprisingly well for two people who haven’t done the whole relationship thing in a while and who are secretly trying not to freak out about liking someone while contemporaneously really liking each other. Ain’t love grand?

Anyway, my time in Los Angeles was nice reprieve from the cold Boston weather and looking back from the snow covered tundra called Boston, a huge tease. I spent the weekend doing everything that is physically impossible to do in Boston during the winter, which mostly meant eating without wearing a sweater and three pairs of socks and being outside. Here is my food journey through La La Land.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

-Julia Child

Breakfast & Brunch

TACOS POR FAVOR – My first breakfast in the LA area was at a strip club in Santa Monica. Ok, not exactly, but close enough. Tacos Pour Favor, a storefront Mexican place, is adjacent to a gentleman’s club and home to my favorite breakfast burrito of the weekend (yes, there was more than one). My only regret with these breakfast burritos was that I didn’t have room for more in my stomach. Boston is severely lacking in good Mexican food, nevermind breakfast foods, so these breakfast burritos were my jam.


BRICK + MORTAR – We found ourselves at Brick & Mortar on a Saturday in Santa Monica. It was the perfect spot for brunch and people watching. The restaurant offers bottomless mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar stocked with more toppings than you can fit into your glass. The mimosas hit the spot and quelled any insecurity I was feeling being the only non-dolled up woman in the joint. Santa Monica is a breezy fun beach town but I had underestimated the LA vibe that would be present.

brunch brick and mortar LA

In the crowd of fedora-wearing tan people, I chowed down on the egg sandwich on a pretzel croissant. It was huge. Like, can’t eat this all, why didn’t we split something, huge. However, I like to think I was doing my part for the carbohydrate food group, as it was getting little love from the other tipsy brunchers. While the couple next to us split a bowl of fruit, my man friend ordered the chicken and waffles – this is why we get along so well.

brunch brick and mortar santa monicaAROMA COFFEE & TEA – In the true “do it all” spirit of my trip to LA, we ventured out to the Valley where we brunched at Aroma Coffee & Tea. The line was out the door when we arrived, provided some quality time for me to chat with his mother and brother who had joined us for brunch (wait, whaaaat? spoiler: it was great). Aroma is in an old house set on a cute street in the Tujunga Village area of Studio City.

My huevos rancheros were amazing, and once again, too much food. I’m starting to think that chefs in LA get excited when someone orders carbs and pile enough food to feed 5 people. I subbed garlic fries for the breakfast potatoes which was probably the best decision of the day. There were plenty to share, which made me happy that I wasn’t the only one keeping the vampires away with my breath. I wasn’t brazen enough to take a picture of my food in front of the boyfriend’s family – they can find out later how weird I am.


IN-N-OUT – The first thing I did upon arriving in the land of fame excess was to get my greasy carb loving self to In-N-Out. Apparently I’m not alone, as the In-N-Out closest to LAX was packed, but the drive through went faster than expected.

in-n-out sign

It had been over a year since my last experience and I could not have been more excited. I opted for a cheeseburger, animal style, with fries, secretly eyeing my bearded companion’s Double Double. It took massive amounts of self control to actually take the picture of the food before devouring the greasy goodness in 2 minutes flat.

in-n-out LA

THE CHURCH KEY – Hailed as West Hollywood’s best new date spot and featured on this season’s Best New Restaurant, The Church Key did not disappoint. The American Dim Sum style restaurant nailed it with both cocktails and food. We sipped on the Yoda’s Staff and Fashioned Chai, which was recommended by the server.

the church key LA

A chronic sufferer of cocktail indecision, I’m was appreciative of the help – it was a toss up between the Chai and the Alfred, the Butler. My favorite dishes were the Mediterranean style Ahi Tuna Tartar (with pomegranate arils, Greek yogurt, and pistachios) and the Angus Beef “Shabu Shabu”. We also got the Crispy Pork Belly, which was good, but not something I’d order again. Pork belly is one of those things that I want to love but can’t – it’s just too fatty for me.

church key LA review
church key LA review


HIGH ROOFTOP LOUNGE – On a beautifully clear night we found ourselves at the High Rooftop Lounge at the Erwin Hotel in Venice Beach at sunset. It’s the only rooftop lounge in Venice Beach, making it a prime spot for both people and sunset watching.

high rooftop lounge venice beach


EVELEIGH – We checked out Eveleigh, a restaurant and bar in a residence sitting on an orchard in Los Angeles. Totally normal. It was packed, as it was a Friday night, but we managed to squeeze in at the bar on the outdoor patio to grab some drinks. Both the front and back of the restaurant have outdoor patios that, despite having ample seating, have an intimate feel.


photo via Eveleigh website

AREAL – On the same day that we brunched at Brick + Mortar, we also went to Areal for an evening cocktail before heading out for the night. Areal was yet another California restaurant and bar with ridiculously inviting outdoor seating that made me cringe at the thought of going back to snow-covered Boston. When we got there the temperatures had dropped to a “frigid” 50something so we imbibed at the bar. My drink was great, a whisky one, and kept warm in the low temps (ha, ha, haha).

areal santa monica

GOLDEN ROAD BREWERY – No trip of mine is complete without beer and my trip to LA was no exception. I took the opportunity to maximize my time in LA by inviting friends I wanted to see to the brewery. Both friends have adorable pugs and thanks to Golden Road Brewery’s outdoor area, I was able to enjoy beer while playing with dogs – it doesn’t get better than that! We got two flights, one regular, one IPA, which were yummy and will be reviewed in another post.

The best thing about Golden Road Brewery was the outdoor dog-friendly area. The area is large, spanning the front of the Brewery and Pub and wrapping around on one side. It’s covered on top to protect beer drinkers from the sun – a must in LA. Both the beer and the company made it a great visit.

golden road brewery LA dog patio

With only 4 days in the Los Angeles area, I ate and drank more than most do in a week. This was by no means a complete food tour of LA and only left me wanting more. I have no doubt that I’ll be back in the Spring to continue stuffing my face in front of the pretty people California. In the meantime, I will be dreaming of patio dining, while eating chili and enduring the long Boston winter.

austin city limits

Last weekend I was in Austin, Texas for Austin City Limits Festival.  My delayed blogging is the best indication of the good time that I had, as it’s now Wednesday and I’ve just recovered from the sun, beer, sore feet, and lack of sleep.
I rolled into Austin to meet up with my friend Dave around midnight on Friday night thanks to a significant lack of direct flights directly into fun land.  WTF airlines?  There were at least 8 people from Boston on both legs of my flight and we could have easily chartered a small United Express jet for the benefit of all passengers.  Apparently the airports don’t revolve around me, so I’ll have to wait for world domination or the lottery.
Saturday was an early start with Bloody Marys before breakfast at the famous Threadgills.  It’s famous for being the Armadillo World Headquarters.  I have no idea what that means except that it was almost demolished, was saved by the city, and is now an awesome good and music venue with clay armadillos decorating the joint like Southwestern gargoyles.  
Threadgills served up some killer Bloody Marys and delicious looking breakfast tacos that they ran out of just as we got to the bar.  Thankfully, the awesome live music by the Mowgli’s kept me busy until I could be properly fed.  If you’re looking for good music with some tambourine, check them out.  I might have been inspired to buy a tambourine after the female vocalist made it look so damn easy.
After Threadgills I headed into the Festival and hightailed it to the beer and taco line, respectively.  Of course I bought a koozie to further my addiction.
Dave’s friend set up “base camp” with about 5,000 other people.  Thankfully, Texans ascribe to the “bigger is better” mantra and it was easy to find our people by their gigantic smiley face flag and upside-down blow up girl hanging from a flag pole.  Not kidding.
Soon enough it was time for more food so I tried some Stubb’s BBQ and Salt Lick.  OMFG yummy goodness!  I thought I had died and gone to heaven so naturally I pushed the limits of my stomach capacity and ordered a rabbit and rattlesnake sausage a couple of hours later.  Not as good at the BBQ but still a solid strange food combo that provided a provocatively questionable picture. Mmm, sausage!
The day was hot, like super hot, and I battled finding a balance between beer; food; and water.  I started off with my hair down, which quickly went up into what I called a Swedish Princess hairstyle to keep my 15 pounds of hair off my sweaty neck.  To get the look, wear a handband, take your sweaty hair, twist it and tuck it into the back of the headband.  Call yourself a princess and take a selfie.
Saturday ended by dropping to 50 degrees while we were watching The Cure play.  The band was amazing and it was great to sing along to songs that I hadn’t heard in years (because really, who listens to The Cure on a daily basis??).
Sunday was a bit of a later start.  We got more Bloody Marys and breakfast tacos at Taco X-Press where my iPhone decided it was still drunk and took a fuzzy picture that I’m not posting.
We got to ACL and took pictures with someone else’s sober iPhone in front of the iconic ACL guitar sign (sort of).  As promised, I wore my cowboy boots all weekend which made me very happy!
Again we saw the Mowgli’s, who were great.  I promise there were more than just two bands and I just suck at taking pictures of live music.
 I had to leave early to catch a 5pm flight through 6 airports and back to Boston so I made sure to get mauled by a bear just as I was leaving because no trip is complete without me getting injured!
How was your weekend?

keeping austin weird

Today I’m leaving for Austin, Texas.  It’s apparently home of weird things and/or people considering their motto is “Keep Austin Weird” which is perfect for me because I’m not the most normal individual in the world.
When my friend Dave invited me to go to Austin with him for Austin City Limits, I jumped at the chance.  A trip with a friend in furtherance of my 30 before 30 list of awesome stuff to do?! Seeing more of the US…hitting up a huge music fest…AND wearing cowboy boots?
Even though Austin is more hippie/eclectic than cowgirl chic, this girl will be rocking her boots all weekend.  I haven’t worn them in a while and I’m itching to throw on a dress or some cutoffs and rock out.  I’ll throw on some hippy headband and Wayfarers so I look just weird enough to fit in with the thousands of other people finding a balance between looking cute and looking original.
Regardless, I’ve been super excited about this trip for a while but it’s coming at the best time right now.  The past two weeks at work have been crazy busy and I could use a break like it’s no one’s business. So in about 12 hours I’ll be in leggings on a plane munching on an $8 picnic in a box.
What are you up to this weekend?

things that are totally not awkward in my life right now

For no reason other than I can’t remember any of the names of the female leads in Cheers but yeah, I’m officially a regular at a bar.  And not just in the “everyone knows your name” kind of way, but in the “everyone knows your first and last name because you come in so often to drink beer to be part of a meaningless club” kind of way.  

There’s nothing not awkward about buying a bike helmet.  It’s even more awkward when you’re me, walk into the store, and ask for help in “Not looking like a penis, please”.  
I’m either meeting people with a thing for spectacles or my face looks better hidden behind black frames.  I’ve gotten way too many compliments since I started wearing glasses in lieu of contacts.  I totally don’t have a complex about it or anything and I’m definitely not making mental notes of which dudes to tell they look better wearing a hat.  Newp, nuh uh, not at all.

I get a lot of comments about the beer I’m drinking at the bar where everybody knows my first and last name.  Probably why #5 is happening…

It’s totally normal and not at all awkward when your boss volunteers you to join his brother in a recreational corn hole league…at a bar…on Wednesday nights.

Am I the only one with a super awkward life right now?

San Francisco Shenanigans

This is Part 1 of my 3 Part series of blogging about my trip to Northern California for an awesome vacation hiding under the guise of attending a legal conference.

 I arrived in San Francisco with my New Jersey lawyer BFF, Nicole, a couple of Thursdays ago.  I had previously convinced Nicole that this conference would be an awesome networking opportunity that she just could not miss out on.  Thankfully, she’s naive and easily swayed by my feminine wiles and she booked a ticket to spend 3 days of awesomeness with me.  Unfortunately for her, she needed to do some official delegate duties which left her a bit behind in the fun aspects of the trip, but we still managed to get a few pictures in on our first day.
Nicole and I like to pretend that we’re a couple, because that’s totally a normal thing that friends do, right?  As such, we took some super couply photos in front of the Bay State Bridge…
…and cuddling for warmth while drinking on the water.  I was so happy to hang out with my legal partner in crime and she was a great sport for letting me drag her around San Francisco in search of the next beer.  Bonus was that we got to share a room together, which means that I saw her naked more than her husband did those few days–winner!
I tried to take pictures at every place we drank and ate, lest I forget when someone asks me what I did while I was away.  Here’s a pic from Gott’s, a NorCal establishment that boasts awesome burgers that for some reason I didn’t try.  I did get a beer though, and that’s just as good.
San Francisco’s own Anchor Steam (pictured here) was the mascot of the week.
After I was finished doing legal conference stuff, I made sure to get most of the tourist activities out of the way starting with the adorably stinky sea lions.  I could have watched these suckers for hours playing and fighting over docks.  Why they didn’t just spread out, I have no idea, but then again I’ve never heard of sea lions being known for their street smarts.
In in spirit of both San Francisco and Northern California beer, I hopped on a ferry ride of the Bay with a Lagunitas Pale Ale.  There was fresh air and malted hops and pretty water and an abandoned prison…
…oh and this too!  There was a little fog, but I still got a good pic of the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry, no thanks to the Asian tourists who were jamming up the rails of the ferry for the best 10,000 pictures of the exact same thing.
I also managed to hit up Ghirardelli Square, which my father told me was unimpressive.  Thankfully I rarely listen to him because I had some amazing mint chocolate chip ice cream (my fav) that was totally worth the extra cellulite dimple it no doubt gave me.  I pounded that cone in about 45 seconds flat AND posed for a picture.  That’s skill.
I managed to find some more friends while Nicole was off networking.  These are my Southern friends who condescendingly loving refer to me as The Yankee.  We took another Ferry out to Sausalito, a tiny town in which I could spend my last day and die comfortably, it was that amazing.  This was also the first of about 15 charcuterie platters that I ate over the course of the week and the beginning of what may or may not be gout in my pinkie finger.  Battle wounds are not for the weak, my friends.
Like any good tourist, I meandered my way through Chinatown where I likely got ripped off buying matching Chinese pajama sets for my niece and nephew that were so cute I didn’t even care.  I also got myself some kick ass chopsticks and ben-wa balls.  Ok, I’m kidding about the ben-wa balls but I did get myself some fancy chopsticks and a roll up jewelry holder for traveling.  I also ate a kickass meal that might have included some horse.
While I had a great time in San Francisco, 3 days was definitely not enough, especially when traveling with a group of people.  Everyone has different ideas of what they want to do and a committee of people takes at least 5 times as long to come to a decision.  I could easily have spent another 3-5 days in this awesome town and can’t wait to go back someday.  
For purposes of locals shaking their heads at me, things that I didn’t get to do while in San Francisco include:
– Walking across the Golden Gate bridge
– Taking those awesomely scary little car things that people were driving all over
– Exploring the Mission or Haight Ashbury 
– Riding a cable car or trolley
-Eating anything other than seafood, Chinese, and Spanish food–why is there so much Spanish food in SF?!
– Attend a Giants game
– Eat at a food truck
I did have a blast though and after 3 days it was time to move on to Napa and Not-Tahoe, the next two stops on my Northern California tour…and consequently, my next two blog posts!