Valerie Gordon has been a busy chocolate maker and business owner lately. In October, she opened a new chocolate boutique in Westlake. In December, she unveiled a sleek new look and expanded offerings at the Grand Central Market Valerie Confections Bakery & Cafe. And this week, she unveiled her new line of Valentine's Day chocolates.
When Gordon and her partner, Stan Weightman Jr., aren't running their multiple businesses, they're spending time with their two kids. So when we asked where they like to eat out, kid-friendly restaurants were the natural topic of conversation. But we're not talking about the drive-thru. "A few months ago, our children’s babysitter told me she tried taking our kids to McDonald’s and they swiftly informed her they were not allowed to go there," Gordon says. "I’m glad our messaging has resonated for our kids; they understand the importance of quality ingredients and socially responsible companies. One of the many exciting aspects to Los Angeles dining is the enormous number of 'fast food' eateries serving delicious, nutritious foods for all ages."
Here are Gordon's picks for quick, delicious meals for the whole family.
7. Mama Musubi
"Located at various farmers markets and Smorgasburg LA, this rice-ball stand is a weekend favorite. At $4 per rice ball, the meal is extremely affordable and offers a wide range of beautifully prepared onigiri." Various locations. mamamusubi.com.
6. Let’s Be Frank
"When I think of a hot dog, the only experience I crave is Let’s Be Frank. The addictive snap of the dog casing literally makes a sound when you sink into the first bite of perfectly seasoned, grass-fed beef." Various locations. letsbefrankdogs.com.
5. IXLB Dimsum Eats
"We stalked the opening of this small dim-sum to-go counter in the heart of Hollywood. Not only do they serve fresh char siu bao and siu mai, but they also have a dumpling mural on the side of the building for fun kid pictures." 5900 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 848-4766, ixlbdimsumeats.com.
4. DeSano’s Pizza
"Soon after DeSano’s opened, it became our go-to gathering place with large groups of families. DeSano’s is super casual, with rolls of paper towels positioned conveniently on each picnic table. I love the pizza because it tastes like pizza — the toppings aren’t gourmet or esoteric, which is kind of refreshing." 4959 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood. (323) 913-7000.
3. Shake Shack
"Yes, you can avoid the lines if you plan strategically. We frequent Shake Shack in the 11 o’clock hour, so brunch for the parents and lunch for kids? This genius restaurant chain has high-quality burgers and crinkle fries, with the added bonus of wine and beer for the parents. Thanks, Shake Shack!" Various locations. shakeshack.com.
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2. Pine & Crane
"The kids devour potstickers, scallion pancakes, sweet potato fries and more at this market-driven Chinese restaurant. Good Chinese food is always better when you don’t have to drive to SGV to get it. Given the choice, I would eat here daily, their food is so thoughtful and delicious. And with an interior reminiscent of a Soho art gallery from the ’90s, it’s cool, too." 1521 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 668-1128, pineandcrane.com.
1. Sno Con Amor
"Located in the center of the Hollywood Farmers Market, Sno Con Amor freshly shaves ice to order, and then douses the snowy orbs with all-natural syrups. The blackberry and coconut flavors are family favorites." Hollywood Farmers Market, 1600 Ivar Ave., Hollywood. (323) 943-8989, snoconamor.com.