My delicious homecoming to LA has been a big fat silver lining. I attended college in LA before Downtown LA became dubbed one of the hottest new food destinations in the country. Everything is different except--I used to hate the traffic, and still do. Last summer, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and as much I tried to Tiger Daughter optimize the situation, I realized that the best and most loving thing that I can do is to spend as much time with my family as possible. So, I've been heading back to LA once a month for now nearly a year. My bicoastal life has reminded me of old favorites:
Swingers: The place is less edgy and more delicious than the name might suggest. Back when I was in college, I used to go there with a boyfriend because we'd be hungry in the wee hours and it was the only place still open past, like, 11pm! If this menu item still exists, get the Jamaican jerk chicken with a fried banana. Fried banana > fried plantain.
Terrine: This spot is brand-new, by restauranteur Stephane Bombet also of the favorite Faith & Flower plus TV chef Kris Morningstar. There are Beauty & The Beast style ornate mirrors all along the wall; it's the French bistro that Beverly Hills needed. Monday night is industry night. Go there and say hello to Christina Lee, the doyenne of private events there, and she'll introduce you to everybody in the industry--the likes of Ludo Levebre and Rod Stewart. Also, high-five on CA's recent legalization of foie gras, because chef Kris is cooking up goose liver specials every night and even for brunch service.
Cliff's Edge: One of several credible spots in Silver Lake. Beverage director Amnon Lourie has put together the most nerdy wine list in LA, filled with cult (and unknown) producers like Abe Schoener's wacky Scholium Project. (Last trip, I went to Cliff's Edge with Abe.) He's more than happy to show you around the list--and will be even more thrilled if you're up for adventure. The food is also surprisingly delicious for a spot I had never heard of until my wine editor friend Jonathan Cristaldi who lives in the 'hood
Bucato: Evan Funke is using the absolute best ingredients he can find to make Italian food that is truly...Italian. Not the big Italian-American red sauce stuff you get everywhere else. So, everybody goes for the handmade pasta, but totally underrated are the vegetables--all of the vegetables. Like this fig and burrata love scene I had last time. The dining room is sun-drenched (to use a ew-worthy real estate term) during lunch hour with modern angles that don't feel cold. The place is decidedly anti-scene-y. Evan Funke (check out his bonkers Instagram feed @evanfunke) is known to yell at diners for being on their social media during dinner, ironicially; he may seem formidably bearded at first, but he'll wrap you in bear hug soon enough. This is the cool-kid restaurant that my salt-phobic, wallet-watching, umami-loving, fish-head-eating, foodies-in-disguise parents actually fell in love with. For that, I am most thankful.
Mariscos Guillen: I know everybody says California has the best Mexican food. Well, I'm not into big burritos, but I am all about cocteles, your choice of seafood in a cold and lime-y broth with chunks of avocado floating about! I get the campechana, a mix of shrimp, octopus, and more. You get plenty of tortilla chips to dip into the goodness. This is a streetside stand in Venice I go with my sister to pick up a bounty before heading back to the 'burbs. Check out their Yelp.