LA MUST TRY DINING EXPERIENCES
LA flies the flag for organic, locally sourced and seasonal produce with seemingly every restaurant, store, bar, market and food truck embracing the bounty growing around them. Here I share a collection of new and old LA destinations where the produce is King and the dishes speak for themselves.
GJUSTA – VENICE
A must visit for all sandwich lovers! The onsite bakery churns out the best (& probably most pricey) sourdoughs in the city, which they use to create irresistible sandwich combinations. Think roast beef with French dip, porchetta melts or my favourite; runny burrata with confit tomatoes. There’s nothing that fits in a sandwich that these guys don’t do and you’ll be hard pushed to pick which option you want! Don’t miss the chance to pick up one of the constant stream of freshly baked sourdough pizzas that also available to takeaway by the slice. Head to LA, go straight here and don’t leave without trying as much on the menu as possible. Produce is locally sourced from farmers markets and local suppliers and you can taste the difference!
GJELINA – VENICE
Owned by the same culinary powerhouse as Gjusta, Gjelina offers a more formal restaurant setting and serves from 8am through to midnight daily. There’s a generous amount of vegan and vegetarian dishes for those on a plant based diet as well as a variety of fish and meats dishes which are showcased alongside a great edit of pizzas. Wild nettle, Fresno chili, garlic, fontina, Parmesan is just one of the many I’d recommend. Each dish champions bold flavours and interesting combinations offering a modern take on classic options. This restaurant might just be my favourite of them all in LA. Arrive with a friend or a good book as expect to queue whatever the time of day. Come the warmer months you can dine in the garden. It’s always worth the wait! Think fresh, vibrant dishes which will have you ready to return time and time again. I even bought the cookery book last time I visited!
JON & VINNY’S – FAIRFAX
A self-proclaimed modern day diner serving Italian favourites from morning to night. Dishes to celebrate included gigantic meatballs alongside the most impressive hunks of garlic toast, the richest cacio e pepe pasta and their famous ‘Salad Days’ pizza that we were completely won over by (make sure you order the marinara dip to go with it!) We’re planning a revisit for their six-hour Bolognese and warm strawberry bread pudding with soft whip already. A restaurant you could lose hours in with its eclectic 80’s and 90’s soundtrack which will leave your foot tapping whilst you order just ‘one more dish to share’.
CANYON COUNTRY STORE – LAUREL CANYON
A must see for all 60’s music fans. This store/café/deli hybrid was a favourite of Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell during the 60’s who could often be found having impromptu jamming sessions on the patio. These days there’s less jamming but the store still pulls in a diverse crowd. The store hasn’t changed one bit with original signage and tills still there. There’s fantastic and reasonably priced bagels, decent coffee the most AMAZING French pastries.
CROSSROADS – WEST HOLLYWOOD
The most impressive vegan restaurant I’ve ever been to. Crossroads is very much an upmarket eatery and offers a beautiful setting complete with linen tablecloths, tiled walls and a buzzing bar. This formal restaurant serves artichoke oysters, spaghetti carbonara, tagliatelle Bolognese, Italian sausage as well as a plethora of other vegan and predominantly gluten free delights. You’ll scoff the lot without even noticing the dishes are meat and dairy free! This is vegan dining without a compromise on taste, setting or service.
UNION PASTA – PASADENA
For handmade pastas, natural wines and a low-key but completely packed restaurant head here. You won’t be disappointed. Pasta lovers should make sure it’s on their list of must visits!
MANUELA – DOWNTOWN ARTS DISTRICT
Brilliant for larger groups, this sprawling restaurant sits in amongst the exhibitions of the Hauser and Wirth building of LA’s arts district. With it’s produce sourced from southern California and as seasonally as possible you can expect an interesting and ever changing menu. Brunch dishes included the LA classic Chilaquiles which you’ll find on most menus, blue cornmeal pancakes with crisp polenta and mushroom ragu, and house made merguez sausages with eggs and labneh. All of which were tried and tested and were completely delicious. The one dish you must try is the cream biscuits with both honey butter and apple butter which was quite probably the lightest and dreamiest sponge I’ve had in a long time. It sounds simple but was actually incredible!
HOLLYWOOD FARMERS MARKET – HOLLYWOOD
This weekly market brings together local producers that are passionate about the quality of their produce. There’s also plenty of food trucks to sample which offer everything from brilliant bagels (which you should expect to queue for), healthy juices, dim sum and even incredible vegan tacos. The bounty of farmers produce available was outstanding from incredible breads, herbs and vegetables will have you set for the week. There’s also a brilliant vendor selling beautiful olive oils, hummus, yogurts and kombuchas. You name it, it’s there!
SALT & STRAW – VENICE BEACH/WEST HOLLYWOOD / ARTS DISTRICT / STUDIO CITY/ LARCHMONT
Ice-cream lovers; this will be your dream destination! Bonkers combinations fit for a kid’s party (or an adults one) will have you drooling. The honey and lavender is a personal favourite but the vegan Elvis peanut butter banana split stole the show. A creation of blitzed bananas with coconut and cashews with swirls of marionberry jam plus chunks of crunch peanut butter ‘bacon’ brittle and smoky toasted coconut ‘bacon’ candy. Impressed?? There’s also oatmeal moon pies with aquafaba marshmallows, Black olive brittle and goats cheese, Salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough…they’ve thought of it all!
JOAN’S ON THIRD – STUDIO CITY
A marketplace staple on the LA food scene that offers deli classics with a great outdoor space for those sunny days. Their breakfast burrito of bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese and guacamole is belt busting but totally hits the spot. They also have an extensive selection of organic cheeses to takeaway of which we were hooked on. We dropped by here for burritos and muffins ahead of taking the nicest (and probably one of the easiest) hikes on Fryman canyon. Incredible city views and calm!
BOTANICA – SILVERLAKE
A very cool brunch spot and adjoining wine shop with sun drenched courtyard dining out back. Here the focus is on locally sourced, sustainable and natural products. Dishes arrive in a kaleidoscope of colours, creatively presented and above all delicious. Our faveourites were the wholesome chicken congee, tomatillo shakshuka with a zesty lime coconut crema and the perfect 6 minute eggs. On the way out be sure to drop by the wine shop. The staff here have an encyclopaedic knowledge and will patiently and gracefully help you choose your takeaway tipple. Here we discovered Pét-Nat wine, an organic natural type of champagne and have never looked back.