Los Angeles isn't short on new tantalizing food options. Chefs bring their culture as well as their own travel inspiration towards the food game often blending cuisines and exciting taste buds. Try one of these simple festive dining options for singles, couples, or groups of friends. Share a meal, and elevate your senses with a brand new culinary experience.
SHUK Israel Street Food Pop Up
Think Israel, Turkey or eastern Mediterranean cuisine. SHUK has popped up in Santa Monica on Main Street next to Jinya Ramen thanks to Chef Gregg Drusinsky and Chef Sandy Ho. Chef Gregg Drusinsky's mom passed away while she was living in Israel which sent him back to the country from his fine dining cooking in NYC. Inspired by the outside markets in Jerusalem, Drusinksy’s menu reflects his passion and inspiration for any simple way of cooking and eating communally.
Shuk or souk means marketplace. Expect an array of classic dishes using fresh local ingredients like lamb shawarma, local squid, smoked mussels, brisket tagine with wood fired laffa bread, falafel-stuffed charcoal pita, charred eggplant with tahini, and hummus and cauliflower. Dishes like turkey figs with labneh and crispy rice with flame raisins and pistachios continue to be on my small mind. Dinner concluded with sweets like halva produced from tahini that tasted just like a rich fluffy nutty peanut butter with wavers, which paired nicely with frozen treats from Van Leeuwen.
Some menu items may change. $55 per person. Learn how you can get tickets for their next dinner series at www.shukpopup.com
Kitchen Table App
I found myself in downtown LA on the Friday night dining outside seated inside a tightly packed communal table under a vine covered twinkle lit patio for “Friendsgiving” with individuals I didn’t know, also it would be a blast! Fall cocktails were flowing thanks to LA’s Greenbar Distillery and before arrival I selected the table I needed to sit at by exploring the seven special co-hosts for the evening. Of course I picked Jeff Miller, who has a show on the Travel Channel and was the founding LA co-editor of Thrillest.
The shared dinner about 70 guests included turkey tacos, Mexican street corn, and more shared passed bites. Sampling dishes and sharing laughs and pie bites with this tablemates for that evening’s pie contest would be a fun bonding exercise.
Reserve your seats for their next dinner and emerging mobile devices App. Browse events in your town for time and place, and just what your food will definitely cost and also the App will show you how many seats are available at each table. Although you eat local, but meet new friends on the shared memorable experience.
Now til February 2020, Dining table App is offering 5 complimentary tickets to a fan as well as their guests. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and state you see clearly here.
Omakase Bar at Petite Taqueria
Japanese Mexican fusion, anyone? The 10+ course exploratory tasting menu at the back omakase bar is tucked on h.wood Groups’s new chic West Hollywood establishment Petite Taqueria. The omakase bar called Ainoko means half-breed or fusion. Each thoughtful bite is created by Chef John-Carlos Kuramoto, an LA born Japanese Mexican who has been awaiting the right amount of time in his chef career to construct this labor of affection.
A tea service begins the meal and continues throughout. Highlights of these carefully crafted courses include charred white corn soup and a large number of little taco bites including a cook your personal wagyu taco, an ahi tuna tostada, a grilled octopus Tako Taco, and Banh Mi Torta with duck confit and chicken pate. Other memorable courses include hot oil hamachi and a Beausoleil oyster with Hennessy Mignonette. Different flavors, ingredients, and techniques are embraced to produce something new. You’ll be wondering all night if the course includes Japanese preparation and Mexican ingredients or the other way around.
Two seatings are available at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm Tuesday through Saturday. $85 per person
The open air market that were only available in Brooklyn is now in downtown LA weekly from 10:00 – 4:00 with over 65 vendors ideal for families or friends that want to share exciting new food concoctions from all over the world. Don't miss BOLO that takes the standard Hong Kong favorite pineapple bun and stuffs it with Jidori Fried Chicken or even different frozen treats flavors! BOLO is the FIRST concept of it’s kind to hit the US and Los Angeles!
Sometimes vendors pop up once only, like George Motz’s juicy sweet onion burger. Our first Smorgasburg appetizer brought us to Thailand once we wolfed down a mango sticky rice in the hip truck at Sticky Rice. Brothecary served up a huge bone broth soup dumpling with a mini straw, along with a 6 year old had to show me how to eat it. Lobsterdamus offers tempting grilled lobster, lobster Mac and cheese, lobster nachos, and lobster fries. The sign for brand new Haven Style Pizza caused me to yelp since us east coasters fight to come by legit thin, crisp wood fired oven pizza, just the way the Italians in Connecticut allow it to be! Find White Clam and Bacon, So Meaty, Italian Sausage, Heavy Vegetable, and Margherita from $12-$15.
Smorgasburg LA occurs around the five-acre site of the weekday Alameda Produce Market in Downtown La, that is a part of a bigger new development called ROW DTLA. Besides food vendors, browse unique shopping from clothing, jewelry, health, craft, vintage, and much more. A brand new parking garage nearby holds more than 4,000 cars with free parking for 2 hours. Youngsters are welcome, but pets are not allowed.
8 Korean BBQ
For a wonderful evening out, watch your dinner prepared before you in Koreatown, in which the largest Korean population resides beyond Korea. The restaurant was packed when I arrived around 7:30 pm. My friends already seated around a table of specialized cookware from Korea instructed me to spread out my circular seat stool and set my purse inside. No need to have it dirty on the ground! Underneath the tabletop, my friends opened a drawer filled with utensils and napkin options. Aprons were presented to keep the sizzling meat juices from landing throughout us.
The Mangalitza pork belly marinated all night in 8 different flavors is essential, thus the name. Our server was super attentive and cooked everything for us table side, making sure to determine the temperatures, cut our meats and bring us more soju and beer. To start our interactive meal, we dropped pomegranate soju in a shot glass directly into our beer and guzzled it back.
As the long tray of meat arrived, we learned we would work our way through the meats from the most subtle flavor (dark wine) to the strongest (red pepper paste) flavor. The 8 flavors include: Wine, Original, Ginseng, Garlic, Herb, Curry, Miso Paste, and Red Pepper Paste. Garlic and also the more intense flavors were my personal favorite choices to enhance this fatty meat, and sauces weren’t necessary. The combo was perfect to share with several guests. Seafood stew followed where I greedily scooped up a succulent mussel.
Somehow following this enormous meat sampling, we found room to devour the bulgogi or “fire meat” cooked with red peppers and enoki mushrooms. I enjoyed the bulgogi even more, with enough flavor and marinade that no sauces were needed. Towards the end in our meal, a spicy kimchi fried rice was concocted right at the table with drippings that slowly poured from the meats from the specially designed Korean cookware. The juices dripped directly into the soup pot and was topped with cheese. Should you aren’t a pork fan, 8 Korean BBQ also offers a range of Argentinian grass fed beef, USDA Prime, and Japanese Wagyu beef! Two locations are available in Southern California, in Koreatown (LA) and Buena Park.
This beautiful upscale dining room at 2420 Pico in Santa Monica helped me feel warm and holiday-ish with dim lighting, a properly dressed crowd, and fireplaces aglow. As we entered through the back, we passed through a romantic lounge, a sort of pre or post-dinner cocktail area with wooded bar, plush chairs, and brass-topped cafe tables. Chef Raphael Lunetta (formerly of Jiraffe) features New American eats that scream “fresh from the Farmer’s Market,” and are plated in such beautiful ways. A countertop invited we to sample a range of dishes watching the chefs at the office. Highlights included a generous part of Ahi Tuna Tartare that tasted like it had just been caught, Pear Salad having a nice pairing of toasted bread smothered having a sharp Blue cheese, Duck Confit with kumquat, and colorful Roasted Market Vegetables assorted artfully.
Lunetta All day long is an all-day diner nearby with affordable bistro food (pastries, coffee, salads, sandwiches, main dishes, eggs all day). An outdoor area exists in the back that is elegantly crafted in a small space with wood benches and striped cushions, ideal for brunch. The metered parking was free outside after 6 pm, but large free parking exists within the rear too.
This multicultural exchange sits inside a nondescript shopping plaza in Marina del Rey. Enjoy weekend brunch served until 4 pm with Eastern European flair. Begin with the Crunchy Bavarian Garlic Bread, a dark seeded bread stacked like jenga that comes with a garlic, yogurt, and horseradish dip. Share the ricotta pancakes dripped in chocolate. Leave room for that Brighton Beach Benedict, a hearty breakfast sandwich with chicken sausage, egg omelet, bacon, smoked gouda, arugula, tomato, garlic aioli on a perfect brioche bun, and fuel your morning with poached eggs and smoked salmon over latkes. A French press for 2 is $7 and their iced coffee inside a large mason jar is sinfully perfecto. Explore options such as the Doma Lamb Burger, Smoked Salmon Tartine, Hot “Borsch” Beets and Lentil soup (Ukrainian style soup), and Siberian house-made stuffed dumplings in soup. For that health-conscious, help make your own bowl with Eastern European slow braised buckwheat with assorted protein options.
In the newly revamped outdoor Century City Mall, two story Eataly boasts a one-stop shop for in-house freshly made, and locally sourced food products. Eataly is still so hot in LA at this time since its recent opening you have to get ready for the crowds, but it's an excellent place to play to look at the food work in progress (as the counters provide no doubts for which is going inside your food). Peruse the specialty Italian items on the market, grab a fast take-home White Moustache yogurt, sample a panini sandwich from the panini station or indulge on a thick but airy Roman style pizza served on the board. End your Italian dreams with a specialty dessert from Venchi, by means of Torino, Italy.
The bakery makes from scratch, and you can expect nothing less in the Italians but to make use of 80 year old yeast creating easily digestible organic flour touted as gluten friendly. The salad, grain bowl, and juice bar has partnered with Chef Jason Neroni of Rose Cafe and can rotate every three months with a new chef. The Dock and Dish offers the freshest catch daily, and also the take a seat seafood restaurant Il Pesce has partnered with Michael Cimarusti from the famed LA restaurant Providence.
LA’s Eataly may be the first wine shop to also include California wines. The cheese counter boasts over 300 local and imported cheeses which can’t be missed due to the smell and the olive oil station enables you to pour the selection of olive oil from a vat into a glass bottle that can be brought back and refilled.
At the back of the market is La Piazza and you'll discover “Italian tacos” from Tuscany cooked on terra cotta plates and full of different charcuterie and cheese, or sweets. The area also includes a mozzarella station, lasagna station, polpette (meatballs) station, fritto station (fried items) and salumi and cheese. Seating looked easier to come across here. In the restaurant within the to the left called La Pizza & La Pasta, the Neapolitan pizzas with stretchy soft dough are cooked in 90 seconds in the gold cone shaped wood burning ovens flown in from Italy. Unfortunately, no reservations are possible, but just be sure to order everything – mozzarella, pizzas, and homemade pastas so you can collect some leftovers.
While looking for my way out around the crowds at 1 pm on the Wednesday, I passed a lavish coffee bar and took the elevator downstairs to be wowed by a homemade gelato bar as well as their own cooking school. Eataly is gourmet food stall bliss.
There is a reason Cleo (SBE Group) in Hollywood with its Mediterranean fare has lasted Many years in the Redbury Hotel. Now Cleo Mediterraneano can be found on W. 3rd Street too. Cleo brought me back to Morocco, Israel, and Greece, thus why this area is categorized as Mediterranean food. Cleo is ideal place to share numerous small dishes called Mezzes, like Lebaneh dip with Feta that arrives having a luscious warm well seasoned bread in a brown bag, Spanakopita with spinach and feta, and chicken, beef, and lamb kebobs. Brussels Sprouts appear to be on every LA menu, but the waitress indicated this is where the veggies got their begin in LA. The once dreaded sprouts are definitely the best Brussels Sprouts we have ever tasted with toasted almost shaved-like sprout flakes seasoned with capers, parsley, almonds, and vinaigrette.
The fresh Greek Salad is essential, concocted with jigsaw placed tomatoes, olives, feta, and cucumbers. Numerous tagines are on the menu, like Moroccan Vegetable, Meatball, Lamb, and Chicken. The Lamb Tagine is phenomenal with succulently seasoned lamb on a bed of couscous mixed with apricots, grapes, silan (date honey), and sesame seeds. Flatbreads, Branzino, Grilled Shrimp or Octopus, Moroccon Fried Chicken, Lamb Shawarma and Moussakah are also available for dinner.
Although this area may appear a little trendy Hollywood, your meals are impressive, and the cocktails exceeded our expectations. Initially, the drinks may look too fruity, but they're delicious! The Vineberry has a nice spicy kick with Serrano, vodka, elderflower, crushed basil, lemon, and cucumber. The Janapolitan was just as tasty with vodka, lime, crushed strawberries and basil leaves.
Cleo is really a short walk in the Pentages Theater. The upstairs former bar and outdoor space has been renovated, and that we heard may become a healthcare facility Club, the private members club that originated from London for individuals in the creative industries.