Thursday, January 5, 2012

"We'll Call it Tapas!"

As hard as it might be to imagine the mother and I would have wanted to do anything on our trip besides hang out at the hotel, one of the main reasons we decided to travel to LA was to check out some new restaurants and visit a few favorite standbys. 

On the flight home, I came across this article in the NY Times dining section. I'm not sure about anyone else out there, but I could completely relate. Most of our trips revolve around when we are eating, where we are eating, and what we are eating when we get there. Often times I find there just aren't enough meals in the day to satisfy the number of places I want to try on any given trip. After reading this article, and indulging on a trip of my own, I was happy to know I wasn't alone. 

I already mentioned our delightful lunch at the famous Fountain Coffee Shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel. But here are a few other places we visited:

Our first stop was Dan Tana's, a very unassuming spot on Santa Monica Boulevard. In fact, other than the valet outside, sometimes it looks like its barely open. But inside you'll find gaggles of people waiting at the bar for a cozy booth to enjoy the delicious food at this red-sauce Italian Joint. 

I am a lover of all "Joints", a sucker for any place with red check tablecloths, colored christmas lights, and wood panelling. Bonus if the food is good, which at Dan Tana's it is. As is the service. It's probably one of the few places in LA with consistently good service, something so hard to come by in a town of waiters/wannabe actors. Dan Tana's is frequented by celebs, but you don't have to be a movie star to feel like one here. 

The mother and I enjoyed fried zucchini, chicken parm, and chicken Tana. (A delicious mix of chicken, potatoes, and onions, which I hope to replicate on the blog here at some point.) We polished off our meal with a slice of tiramisu, one of my all-time favorite desserts.

Sorry there are no interior shots, the restaurant frowns upon them. They do have great photos on their website though! 

I am always surprised when I talk to friends in LA who say they've never been. It's a place I go back to time and time again and I always find myself wishing for an NYC equivalent.

Another one of my LA traditions has become meeting my former coworker, bestie, and LA native S for brunch at the Blue Plate in Santa Monica. The food is so fresh and flavorful despite the lackluster service. We enjoyed some delightful girl talk over shared strawberry-banana pancakes which are always well worth dealing with the grumpy waitstaff. 

I may or may not have also had half a chicken and avocado wrap. I just cannot pass up the opportunity for avocado when I am in CA!

There may also have been sweet potato fries. For this, I have no excuse. 

After lunch we decided to stroll down Montana avenue not only to walk off lunch, but also to visit Cabana, a Lilly Pulitzer Via shop. One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling, other than eat of course, is to check out the local Lilly Pulitzer Via shops. 

Cabana is one of my favorites as they always do such a great job decorating the store and making you feel like you are really part of the Lilly Pulitzer lifestyle. The pink tree was the perfect holiday touch! Also, Anne, one of their sales girls could not be nicer. I have spoken with her on every occasion that I've popped into the store and she is always full of wonderful information about the brand and gives great wardrobe suggestions too!

Not sure if it was the seaside shack-inspired menu or, most likely, the wood panelling, that drew me into our next restaurant, but for months I've been dying to try LA newcomer Son of a Gun opened by the guys who cook at the famed LA restaurant Animal. The place was packed, as it had just been named one of LA's top 10 best new restaurants of 2011 by Los Angeles Magazine, but luckily, we made a reservation for one of the very few non-communal tables the restaurant offers. 

Or so we thought. The mother and I were meeting another former coworker, a young Jewish man who could have been plucked straight from a Woody Allen film, who hates the beach, and whom I thought I would NEVER see off the island of Manhattan. But he picked up one day and moved- to LA, of all places. He even drives a convertible now! And they say you can't change a man...

We had worked together for years before his cross-country move and both share a passion for food and dining out, so what a fun adventure to try one of LA's hot new restaurants together. 

Our table wasn't quite ready when we arrived so we had a drink at the bar. And then a second drink. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Only to find out, that the hostess had given our table away. 

While I was quite displeased with the situation, we decided to stick out the wait for another table. My coworker and I were having a lovely time catching up so we didn't so much notice the wait, other than the fact we were salivating over other people's plates. When we did finally sit down to eat, the hostess apologized profusely (it was her second night on the job) and the restaurant made SO good on their mistake by comping our bar bill, sending out a few extra dishes, and making sure my glass of (pink!) champagne was always full. 

Some of the highlights included the lobster roll, the fried chicken sandwich, the linguine with clams, the hanger steak, and the king crab legs with Tabasco butter. 

Of course, no trip to the west coast is complete without a trip to their mecca of fine-dining:

So naturally, I stopped for a double-double before flying home.

Come to think of it, after eating all of this, I probably should have walked back, non?

1 comment:

  1. Love all the places you stopped at but ESCPECIALLY Dan Tana's! I practically lived there growing up! I'll have to try Son of a Gun. Never been!