I ate.

Since the time I left LA, hipsterdom has definitely increased, with the lovely result that there’s an overwhelming number of good food options, all enjoyed in a chill setting.

In Venice, I had a New Year’s Day seafood feast for brunch at Salt Air (oysters, lobster omelet, and lobster roll, pictured above).  Even if you’re not one of the lucky ones to grab outdoor seating, the interior is refreshingly full of natural light.

Also in Venice, I finally had the chance to try Gjelina.  Nothing beats sitting outside on a warm patio in early January, with a hand-crafted cocktail (in this case, The Midday Revival), and some great California cuisine (beets with burrata and speck, and lamb sausage pizza, pictured above).

Another great brunch spot was Flores + Sons on Sawtelle (chilaquiles, pictured above).  The hiphop-streaming Flores + Sons has a great patio and a brunch menu that boasts tempting dishes like kale salad, fried chicken and waffles, and a loco moco benedict.  The chilaquiles were perfect and I really want to go back for dinner.  Flores + Sons seemed to share the block with several popular restaurants, including a ramen shop where a line formed long before the lunch hour on a Sunday morning.

In a pinch, when nothing else seemed to be open for New Year Day’s dinner, I found refuge at Bouchon in Beverly Hills, where I enjoyed some classic bistro eats on a chilly night (lamb leg pictured above).  Not too shabby for a last minute bite!

I was also lucky to snag a brunch reservation at Animal on N. Fairfax, where I had a sake-based Bloody Mary, along with a spread of barbecue pork belly sandwiches, an oxtail poutine, hamachi crudo, and a pastrami benedict.  It took a really long time to order at Animal because every dish looked so unique, that I felt I had to try it!  Everything was delicious.  After all that, I still made room for a donut (pictured above) and horchata latte at Cofax Coffee, just across the street.

My absolute favorite dinner of the trip was at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica.  I started with the lavender almonds, which were marcona almonds covered in a sort of a lavender sugar.  Next, I had the smoked salmon rillette on toast with tapenade and chicharrones.  The rillette was rich and tasty, and the chicharrones added a salty crunch.  Following that, I had the pozole verde with mussels, hominy, and crunchy tortilla strips, which was amazing.  For a main course, I had roasted chicken in carrot broth, and ended the night with a scoop of the honeycomb ice-cream.  Everything I had at Rustic Canyon was delicious and I would definitely go back!

As part of the Historic Downtown Tour (see prior post), I got my first glimpse of Grand Central Market (pictured above).  The market is amazing.  Aside from produce, cheese, baked goods, and speciality beans and grains, there were a multitude of vendors selling various ethnic and other gourmet “fast” foods.  And nowhere have I seen such a mix of people — from plaid-clad hipsters to no-nonsense abuelitas — all trying to get their foodie fill.  I took a quick run through the market and picked up a cappuccino at the bar-like counter at G & B Coffee.  Grand Central Market is definitely on my to-see list next time I’m in town.

I can’t wait to go back to LA to try so many other places!



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