Costa Mesa & LA – 8/18/18 – Taco Maria & Vespertine

Taco Maria
The pork belly taco was the best taco I have had anywhere.


Aguachile – Hokkaido scallop, cucumber, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro oil

Arrachera – hanger steak, roasted chilis, applewood bacon, queso
Tocino – pork belly, piloncillo glaze, plums, salsa de aguacate

I’m still not quite sure what I think about Vespertine. The building is fantastic. Photos really do not do it justice as you need to see it within its neighborhood. I loved the outdoor space where we started and finished as well as the rooftop. But the dining room just felt odd and dark and cold and the music was mind numbing. I can’t say that any of the dishes were memorable but were all just good. At the very least it makes you think.

V E S P E R T I N E – Menu – 08.18.18

Los Angeles – March 31, 2018 – Son of a Gun & Pizzeria Mozza

Sun of a Gun
Still one of my favorite places. The pimento cheese and shrimp will never get old.

pimento cheese dip

peel & eat shrimp

salad of somewhat unknown ingredients

Pizzeria Mozza
I’m very picky about pizza and Mozza is still one of the best. But the carrots were so fantastic that I had to go back for them.

shaved carrots, fennel, mizuna rabe, caraway yogurt & rye

meatballs, mozzarella di bufala, tomato, chili flakes & fresh oregano

LA -7/25/15 – Petit Trois, eggslut, Bestia

Petit Trois
I arrived a few minutes before opening to find a number of people already in line. Luckily some of their parties were not complete by the time the doors opened so I had no problem getting a seat.  I absolutely loved everything about this meal from the service, to the fantastic cocktail, to the beautiful salad, to the copious amounts of bread I ate to soak up the juice from the mussels.

Heirloom tomato salad, buffalo mozzarella, lemon verbena  Moules Frites, white wine, shallots, garlic, creme fraiche  

With several hours to kill before dinner, of course the most logical thing to do was have a second lunch.  The line would have been much more bearable had it been about 10 degrees cooler outside but at least it moved quickly.  I’m not even a fan of breakfast sandwiches but eggslut could convert anybody!

Fairfax – soft scrambled eggs and chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and siracha mayo in a warm brioche bun 

There is definitely a reason that Ori Menashe of Bestia was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs for 2015 and that Bestia is a favorite for so many. I only wish I was with a larger group and could have ordered more because everything I saw around me looked so good. A perfect ending to this weekend trip.

Farro salad, shaved heirloom cauliflower, pine nuts, avocado puree, pickled chili, mint, montasio    Smoked whitefish crostino, dill, potatoes, scallions, fresno chilies, celery leaf     Spanish prawns, salumi, cherry tomatoes, charred potato, cucumber, plums, oregano Yellow peach and santa rosa plum crostata, frangipane, buttermilk ice cream 

LA – 7/24/15 – Jon & Vinny’s, Night + Market Song, Smoke.Oil.Salt, The Walker Inn

Jon & Vinny’s
It’s definitely the sign of a vacation day to be able to go out for breakfast.  Luckily my early flight landed on time and despite having eaten on the plane I was starving by the time that I arrived.  I loved my seat overlooking the kitchen and could see spending far too much time here if I lived in LA. Such a great breakfast and I can’t wait to make a return trip for dinner (and the avocado toast) and to buy some wine! This is yet another fantastic addition for John Shook and Vinny Dotolo and now I can’t even pick a favorite.

Peach Crostada 
Kenter Canyon Stone Ground Porridge, toasted almonds, gaviota strawberry, orange blossom honey

Night + Market Song
I love an addictively spicy dish so much and I haven’t had a good one in quite some time.  My mouth was on fire but I just couldn’t stop eating the papaya salad. Not after I had downed a few glasses of water and wine and not when I was completely full.  The LA Times review summed it up perfectly with “just eat, don’t ask.”

Som tum – mortar pounded green papaya salad with palm sugar, lime juice, bird eye chile, peanuts

grapow khai dao – wok fried minced chicken, long beans, chile, garlic, thai basil with steamed rice, topped with fried egg

I was debating keeping Smoke.Oil.Salt on my itinerary as Chef Perfecto Rocher had departed right before my visit.  But I’m not one to cancel reservations last minute and I’m so glad that I went anyway.  Stephen Gelber is a wonderful host, I had my favorite wine of summer and the octopus was one of the best that I’ve ever had. My only regret is leaving before Caitlyn and Boy George showed up. Oh LA!

olivos con bitet – olives, toasted almonds, pickled vegetables

zanahoria – slow cooked carrots, carrot salad, carrot puree

pulpo con tomate – smoked spicy octopus, sliced chorizo, caramelized onion, tomato chutney

The Walker Inn
Of course I am a sucker for a cocktail bar with any form of secret door and doorbell. Although more so I like the ability to make a reservation. The Walker Inn is tucked in the back of the Normandie Club which perhaps would be fun earlier in the evening but was overwhelmingly loud late at night. The space is fantastic and actually slightly larger than I was expecting. Sitting at the bar you don’t receive a menu so unfortunately no descriptions of these but I enjoyed both and they were perfect based on the description I provided to the bartender.