Eats I Have Been Dying to Mention

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with the Holiday season flying by, ringing in the New Year and getting back into the swing of things!  I have done a ridiculous amount of eating that I have been dying to share with you all!  Check out my latest hot spots!

Larry’s – Venice, CA

24 Windward Ave  Venice, CA 90291-4102
(310) 399-2700

Larry's sits steps from the Venice Boardwalk

Larry's sits steps from the Venice Boardwalk

Mark and Erwin Sokol (of Hotel Erwin) have teamed up with Waterloo & City chef Brendan Collins to bring affordable gastropub-ish plates to the art community of Venice Beach.  Larry’s opened in August 2011, was named after local artist Larry Bell, a pioneer in minimalism.  The interior bar

Larry Bell, local artist and a pioneer of California minimalism was the inspiration for Larry’s, his accomplishments and style was carefully used in the design and interior features that make this new spot shine.  The eats are nothing short of extraordinary and unique creative masterpieces.  SHRIMP & LOBSTER RAGOUT, capellini pasta, lobster tomato sauce, basil & truffle, GREEN CURRY MUSSELS, ginger, fresno chile, charred bread for dipping,  PIZZA, green chorizo, egg, chipotle, tomato sauce. The menu although foodie eccentric, never tops a $15 price tag making this the new hot spot for every local generation.

Ahi Tuna Tartar, white soy ponzu, prawn crackers, pickled vegetables

Ahi Tuna Tartar, white soy ponzu, prawn crackers, pickled vegetables

Bacon Wrapped Organic Salmon, roast beets, gnocchi & horseradish

Bacon Wrapped Organic Salmon, roast beets, gnocchi & horseradish

Dry Aged Beef Burger on ciabatta bun, house made pickle & fries

Dry Aged Beef Burger on ciabatta bun, house made pickle & fries

Hostaria del Piccolo – Santa Monica, CA

606 Broadway St  Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-6633

Hostaria del Piccolo

Hostaria del Piccolo

Opened just this year, Hostaria is the latest venture of Vittorio Viotti and chef Bobo of Venice, Italy’s Piccolo Venice, said to be one of the very best restaurants in Venice.  The menu is adorned with antipasti options that cause any palate to water.  ORECCHIE  crispy fried pigs’ ears and salsa verde, CINGHIALE  roasted wild boar sausage: soft polenta, MAIALI  selection of exclusive Italian cold cuts and VERDE arugula, spinach, avocado, pine-nuts and Parmesan crisp.  The pizzas have been rated nothing short of excellent and the staff is friendly and actually Italian!  When visiting Santa Monica next its a must try whether you’re looking for lunch of dinner, it’s not to be missed.  Perhaps than you can fly to Venice and sample Piccolo to compare notes.

Frittura, crunchy fried calamari, shrimp, white smelt fish

Le Pizze Bianche without sauce - squid ink dough, mozzarella, tomatoes & basil

Le Pizze Bianche without sauce - squid ink dough, mozzarella, tomatoes & basil

Gnocchi Marinara

Gnocchi Marinara

Bottega Louie – Downtown Los Angeles, CA

700 S Grand Ave  Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 802-1470

Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie

Walk by Bottega Louie on any given day and it will be packed, you will automatically decide its pricy and perhaps unaffordable — if your like me it’s best not to torture yourself and keep it in mind for another time, another place.  However, a tiny bit of research will prove your instincts immensely incorrect.  Bottega Louie may look to be a $30 a plate dining spot but its affordable and utterly brilliant.

Walk through the front door and your smacked across the face with an aisle of pastries, mini desserts, macarons, and tarts that scream beauty and perfection.  To the left you’ll see a cocktail bar that sends you back to the 20’s and off to the right a stainless steel open kitchen with 15 maybe 20 chefs and sous chefs cooking and plating dishes with the utmost care and precision.  The lunch and dinner menu may set you back $20 – $25 a person, but plates are enormous, pizzas feed 2+ and you will not leave disappointed.  Beware that they do not take reservations and a wait time can range from 10 minutes on a weekday to 2 hours on a prime weekend!

Mini Meatball Sliders

Mini Meatball Sliders

Portobello Fries

Portobello Fries

Infamous Bottega Louie Macarons

Infamous Bottega Louie Macarons

Bottega Louie Desserts

Bottega Louie Desserts

Cal Shabu – Santa Monica, CA

930 Broadway, Santa Monica, 90401

Cal Shabu - Santa Monica

Cal Shabu - Santa Monica

Shabu Shabu is an act of cooking, the dish is prepared by bring a pot of water to a boiling point and submerging very thin slices of meat and vegetables meanwhile swishing it back and forth until cooked to your desired doneness. In fact the swish-swish sound directly translates to Shabu Shabu. The cooked meat and vegetables are then dipped in a ponzu or sesame seed sauce and served with a bowl of rice.  Once you have devoured this simple yet delicious meal, the leftover broth from the pot is combined with the remaining rice, vegetables, and noodles and eaten as a soup.

The experience in itself is just a ton of fun and Cal Shabu does a remarkable job at making you feel as if you are dining at home.  The restaurant is located off any Santa Monica main drag and therefore the staff is genuine and it’s patrons all locals (they are literally located 6 buildings from our apartment!).  Next time you’re looking for something to warm you up or are in need of some comfort, Cal Shabu should be your first and only choice.

Two Item Combo - Prime Beef & Mussels

Two Item Combo - Prime Beef & Mussels

Soup made from cooking broth with fresh veggies and noodles

Soup made from cooking broth with fresh veggies and noodles

Happy Hour at Cal Shabu, Santa Monica

Happy Hour at Cal Shabu, Santa Monica

26 Beach – Marina del Rey, CA

3100 Washington Blvd  Marina Del Rey, CA 90292-5551
(310) 823-7526

Twenty Six Beach - Venice, CA

Twenty Six Beach - Venice, CA

Most notably known for their massive burgers, acknowledging and not letting it’s patrons forget that they have several times over been voted home of the “Best Burgers in L.A.” is my latest find.  I cannot prove the above theory as I stumbled on 26 Beach for brunch, but their brunch menu is not ordinary sporting entire sections of “Pasta Scrambles”, “The Royals – Eggs over brown rice” and somewhere around 20 French Toasts varieties that you will find creeping into your foodie dreams.  The atmosphere is eclectic and memorable and food is fantastically executed.  I am not sure while dining if I realized just what we had stumbled upon, but now looking back I am dying to test out the french toast and the infamous burgers.

Panchetta & Eggs Pasta Scramble

Panchetta & Eggs Pasta Scramble

Twenty Six Beach Outdoor/Indoor Patio
Twenty Six Beach Outdoor/Indoor Patio
Corned Beef Hash Scramble

Corned Beef Hash Scramble

Hidden LA: Poke Poke

Wasabi Poke with Avocado served on Rice

One of my all time favorite food loves is raw tuna, okay, truth be told I actually toe the line of obsession with this one.  I don’t care how it is prepared, what it is served with, but that melt in your mouth fish is something I can never pass up.  Tuna sushi, tuna tartar, seared tuna, tuna ceviche, or tuna poke — whatever it is you can count on me ordering it.

To be honest, I can’t even remember now how I stumbled across this tiny tuna serving spot online, because the thought of what they were offering and realization of their proximity to my immediate location drove me to grab my bike and sprint out the door.  You think I am joking?

On Venice Boardwalk directly across from Muscle Beach you can find three extremely off beat food windows.  By off-beat I don’t mean your typical boardwalk fair of corn dogs, 14 inch slices of pizza, and burger patties, but rather small windows serving up gourmet delicacies under unique company mottos.

Secret Gourmet Windows on Venice Boardwalk

Secret Gourmet Windows on Venice Boardwalk

Aloha Poke - Aloha Shoyu, Rice Wine Vinegar & Crushed Red Pepper.

Poke-Poke – The Surfer’s Sashimi

Serving up deliciously fresh poke anyway you want it.  Choose from their four original creations or create your own, every cup is made-to-order.  No worries about your poke sitting in the kitchen for eight hours in marinade.  Quite the opposite poke is mixed and seasoned as you wait with your ability to add things like avocado, jalapeno, kale, crushed macadamia nuts, crushed red pepper, pickled ginger, watermelon radish and masago.

Poke-Poke Menu

Honestly I can’t say it gets must better than perfectly seasoned tuna, but get this —  you can get a ridiculously large cup of poke with rice for $10 or without for $12!  Next time your on the boardwalk craving a bite to eat don’t settle for a dog on stick, check out Poke-Poke, Sababa, & Schulzies for some delicious alternatives.

Sababa – Middle Eastern, focused on high-quality delicious food served at affordable prices.

Schulzies – 108 different flavors of bread pudding (I will be trying this shortly!).

Where can you find Poke-Poke, Schulzies, & Sababa?

1827 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Beach, Bike & Brews – Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach

A day of enjoyed exercise, scenery, and delicious eats is perhaps my idea of a perfect Saturday.  When Chris suggested a bike ride to Manhattan Beach and back it crossed my mind that perhaps he had gone over the edge!  It takes us 30 minutes to drive to Manhattan Beach and you want to bike!?!  A quick Googled bike route informs me it is nowhere near as far has I had imagined.  Sure it takes 30 minutes plus in LA to drive to Manhattan beach, but I should know better.  A meer 14 miles there and back along a consistent bike path thru Venice, Marina del Ray, Playa del Ray and El Segundo.  Sure its further than I can ever remember biking in my 25 years of existence, but I got a new ride, good company, and a food reward in the middle!

Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach - Bike Route

Brand New Bikes

This ride is mostly a straight forward route as a beach bike path runs from Santa Monica to Marina del Ray then El Segundo to Manhattan Beach.  The only tricky part is finding the bike path that jogs around the Marina.  11 out of the 14 miles are spent beach front and the other 3 checking out LA’s elite fleet of yachts and sailboats.  It’s by no means a painful ride — add some craft brew hops and you got the perfect day.

Craft Brew Stops along the way…

Brew Co Manhattan Beach

With bottled beers that linger on the line of dangerous perfection (extremely high alcohol percentages) and 36 draughts that represent this country’s headway in the craft brew industry this beach front joint has it going on.  Brew Co not only boasts a bold and robust brew selection, but a menu that leaves you overwhelmed with delicious decisions that pair delightfully with your favorite beer.

Classic Burger from Brew Co

Steak Sandwich at Brew Co

Brew Co Manhattan Beach

Brew Co - 124 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA

Venice Ale House

A homegrown joint situated on the oddity that is the Venice Beach boardwalk, this place brings a new crowd, or a least keeps the crowd lingering on this prime piece of real estate.  Venice Ale House hosts a simply and organic grown menu paired with a carefully selected West Coast oriented flight of beer and wine.  Craving a beer created with palate and passion they bring some of the west favorites to the table — Kona Brewing Co, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Stone Brewing Co, Green Flash, Lost Coast, Lagunitas, Deshcutes, Brouwerd Brewery and Napa Smith.

Venice Ale House

Venice Ale House

Venice Ale House - 2 Rose Ave, Venice, CA

Looking to plan your bike route?

Los Angeles Department of Transportation has recently been granted $2.675 million to expand the bicycle lanes, sharrows, bike parking and bike friendly streets throughout the city.  View the current Los Angeles bike friendly map to see where you can ride saftely!

Abbot Kinney 1st Fridays

30 or so trucks line up on Abbott Kinney every first friday of the month

Los Angeles is renowned for its boutique shopping and areas of consumer consumption, whether it be Robertson, Rodeo, Melrose, Hollywood Blvd, Silver Lake, 3rd Street, Montana, Main Street, Santee Alley– all appeal to select markets and crowds.  In today’s economy some of our favored weekend window shopping spots are at risk of going out of business.  Abbot Kinney – a once up and coming area in Venice focused on the arts, boutique shopping, and small independent restaurants has struggled through the last few years.

So when times are tough and foot traffic is low what to LAians do?  They bring in the gourmet food truck crowd.  The first friday of every month hosts a gourmet food truck extravaganza.  Abbot Kinney 1st Fridays bring in an average of 30 trucks, art gallery events, bar and restaurant specials, and boutique sales.  The crowd is no longer local and people from all over the city are spending their Friday night tasting foods from around the world, experiencing local art, and boosting the Abbot Kinney economy.

Check out the next Abbot Kinney 1st Friday on October 1st, 2010.  It is completely free — get there early to find parking.  Food trucks don’t open their windows till about 6:30pm.