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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bean and Cheese Burrito at Al and Bea's Mexican Food - S. RASHKIN
  • S. Rashkin
  • Bean and Cheese Burrito at Al and Bea's Mexican Food
Nate Silver and his Burrito Bracket team have spoken. The best burrito in Los Angeles is at ... Al and Bea's Mexican Food in Boyle Heights.

The Burrito Bracket arrived in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. We covered this playful, semi-rigorous national burrito contest, run by Silver and the statistical data analysis website FiveThirtyEight, back when they announced their selection process. They’ve since posted an official burrito bracket graphic to make following along at home easier as they choose a single champion "burrito selling establishment" from the 64 restaurants and food trucks selected to compete.

All the L.A. restaurants have now had their chance in Round 1, and only one is advancing in the bracket.

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Firenze Osteria - LAWEEKLY.COM
Firenze Osteria, Fabio Viviani's North Hollywood restaurant, will close tomorrow, July 31. The restaurant will reopen some time in the future with Viviani as chef, but with new ownership. 

Viviani opened Firenze in late 2009, right after his initial ascent to fame on Bravo's fifth season of Top Chef. At the time of its opening, the restaurant was a hit, though Los Angeles Times critic Irene Virbila gave it a poor review, saying "what I didn't expect was a menu so conventional it reads like a tourist trap — mostly generic dishes from no particular region. Italian Food for Dummies." LA Weekly couldn't improve upon that opinion, and never wrote about the restaurant. 

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Kaplan (left) and Day (right) in their office/lab - LJ SOLMONSON
  • LJ Solmonson
  • Kaplan (left) and Day (right) in their office/lab
David Kaplan and Alexander Day met, fittingly, at a bar.  Death & Co. in Manhattan's East Village, to be exact, the much-lauded cocktail joint that Kaplan opened with Ravi DeRossi in 2006.  At the time, Day, who was managing another bar while going to grad school, lived a block and a half from Death & Co.

"I remember sitting at the bar and having my first cocktail," Day recalls. "I left there saying 'This is something different'." Day kept returning to Death & Co; finally, Kaplan, sensing a kindred spirit, hired him. Today, the two of them, along with Angeleno Devon Tarby, are partners in Proprietors LLC, a bar consulting firm whose influence is felt throughout downtown L.A.'s cocktail scene. 

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​Donut Bar's bacon doughnut - BIG BITE EVENTS
  • Big Bite Events
  • ​Donut Bar's bacon doughnut
Big Bite Bacon Fest
Since we will not collectively ever tire of bacon, and since everybody who went to the San Diego County Fair for Big Bite Bacon Fest probably is out of that food coma, the sizzling pork adventure will travel north for its debut at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on Aug. 2. Local restaurants and chefs will bring more than 40 dishes with unlimited tastings (maybe check with your cardiologist first? Ah well, just saying). So who's coming? Bigmista’s Barbecue (pig candy!), Meat Inc., Slater’s 50/50, Savage Chef, Ghost Scream Hot Sauce, the Donut Bar (bacon doughnuts) and many more, as well as BEER. There will be lots of fun bacon events, including a cook-off, and a judged People’s Choice Award powered by Yelp. Tickets include unlimited bacon and pork tastings, plus a self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. For more information, check the website. 
WHAT: Big Bite Bacon Fest
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 2; there are both lunch and dinner sessions.
WHERE: The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach.
COST: General admission starts at $35; VIP tickets start at $55 and include early entrance, VIP lounge access and a "pork swag bag."

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Hatch chiles - FLICKR/SARAH CADY
Hang onto your hat-ch. New Mexico’s famous Hatch chiles are almost here. The season is short, from early August to the end of September, so you’ll want to get your share before they’re gone.

If you’re a Hatch fanatic, you’ll line up with your stash at a chile roasting — Melissa’s Produce will have 17 of these at markets in Southern California. Then you can store them in the freezer, where they’ll keep for up to two years.

The roasting is done by the case — 25 pounds, which isn’t much if you’re hot for these chiles. Buy a pound or two and you’ll have to roast them yourself.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Bread's cozy storefront - AMY SCATTERGOOD
  • Amy Scattergood
  • Red Bread's cozy storefront
After one year of operations in the western end of Culver City, Red Bread, the small-batch bakery, shop and café, has closed. But don't despair: It will be re-opening in the fall, in a different location.

In the mean time, its popular wild-yeast breads and pastries will still be available at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market. The Magical Grocery Tour Sunday delivery service and catering will continue as well during the transition.

The reason for the closing? According to Rose Lawrence, "While we are so thankful for the community that grew with us this past year in Culver City, we have split the seams in our tiny shop though and it is time to move to bigger digs."  Tiny is right: It had just one communal table with 10 small stools, plus a few outdoor tables. After just 12 months at that location, Lawrence and business partner/husband David Lawrence decided now was the time to go. 

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Mozza's butterscotch budino - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Mozza's butterscotch budino
If you've ever been in the mood to eat a whole pizza and drink a whole bottle of wine and then cap it off with some silky pudding, then you're a kindred spirit. You're also in luck: Mozza2Go has a summer special going on: One pizza, one bottle of wine, and one butterscotch budino for $34. 

This deal is only available for store pickup (not delivery) and has certain restrictions. The $34 price includes one pizza (choice of margherita, fennel sausage, tomato, burrata, prosciutto, salame, and aglio e olio). For an additional $2 you can have a meat lover, bianca or funghi misti). The bottle of wine might be Antico Fuoco, Rosso Veronese 2012 Merlot/Corvina blend or another variety chosen by Mozza2Go.

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A salad from Fig, one of the restaurants you will be able to order from using Caviar. - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • A salad from Fig, one of the restaurants you will be able to order from using Caviar.
Ever think to yourself "I'd really love to eat at Sotto tonight, but I really don't want to get out of my jammies"? Beginning tomorrow, that will be an option. A new delivery service called Caviar, which partners with higher-end restaurants, is launching in Los Angeles, allowing you to order food from a number of restaurants that have not previously offered delivery. 

Caviar works with your zip code, showing restaurants in your delivery zone. Right now their zones are Central L.A., Downtown/Eastside, and Westside — meaning you'll have access to the service in Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Culver City, Marina del Rey, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Central L.A., Koreatown, Downtown, Glendale, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. 

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Chef Evan Funke at Bucato - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Chef Evan Funke at Bucato
It seems like just a few months back that Evan Funke opened Bucato, his fantastic Italian restaurant in the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City. Amazingly, Bucato celebrates its one-year anniversary this week (the official birthday is July 31). 

We have a reason to celebrate as well, because next week Bucato will start lunch service. The lunch menu will be offered Mon.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., with brunch still being offered on Sundays. 

A year anniversary and a brand new lunch option — we thought it might be a perfect time to check in with Funke on where he likes to eat when he's not working (which is about to be never, apparently). See below for his picks, plus recommendations for dishes to try.

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Dazzling Caesar salad at Cafe Gratitude - HOPE LEE
  • Hope Lee
  • Dazzling Caesar salad at Cafe Gratitude
If you look hard enough, finding a vegan Caesar salad in Los Angeles isn't that hard to do. However, finding a good vegan Caesar salad often is. In fact, not many restaurants serve vegan Caesars worth mentioning, and of this select few, perhaps none are better than the plate called Dazzling at Cafe Gratitude

The Dazzling does in fact dazzle, thanks to an oil-free dressing made from cashews, capers and ground pumpkin seeds. This dressing distances itself from other vegan Caesars not by what's in the recipe, says Cafe Gratitude executive chef Dreux Ellis, but by what's intentionally left out.

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