MatchaBar

1 Comment

MatchaBar

1 Comment Los Angeles, California
 

It feels like every day Los Angeles welcomes the opening of a cute new restaurant. As of late, I have become exhausted and overwhelmed with simply how curated every space in our city has become. This is one of the primary reasons I unfollowed nearly every food or lifestyle Instagrammer – it’s too much for me, it’s not my vibe. One of my best friends recently described this epidemic as “influencers influencing other influencers” and I nearly fell out my chair. She nailed it.

I was hesitant to accept the invite to MatchaBar, especially as I stay grumbling about the changes to the Eastside, once so beautifully Latinx. But I love matcha and I heard Amara Kitchen (a personal favorite of mine from Garvanza, also on my Essential LA list) was serving food in the space, so I went in with my pal Jazper on a weekday morning. I’m glad I made the visit because I had the opportunity to sit down with the owner, meet the team, and try a bunch of dishes off their menu. There was only one true miss on my visit and that was the Baklava Croissant from Gjusta, which photographed so beautifully. It was dry, over-baked, and not impressive. I wasn’t totally surprised, as I’ve continually been underwhelemd with pastries from Gjusta, so my question is this: what are y’all eating there that you love so much? It’s beyond me and considering the prices, I gave up on trying anymore. Please let me know in the comments if you have a recommendation.

MatchaBar is a chill space to start your day and I love that. The cafe is filled with natural light, the vibe relaxed. The staff is warm with their welcome and the drinks comforting. Last year my Chinese herbalist suggested that I begin my mornings by drinking something warm to improve my overall well-being, and the Golden Latte was the perfect match. Made with organic turmeric and ginger, this creation is a healthy cup of liquid that’ll put some positive energy into your step . I felt at ease while sitting on their patio soaking up the sun and sipping on matcha, I was relaxed, despite being on insane Sunset Blvd. There aren’t plugs or wifi passwords at MatchaBar, and I appreciate that tremendously. That means you aren’t dogging screenwriters and freelancers for tables that you’ll probably never get, because they’re camping out for 8 hours, when they should be at the library. This is a cafe where you can come and enjoy yourself, eat and drink something that makes you feel good, then go out into the world and try your best.

 
 
 

As mentioned, I was hyped that Amara Kitchen had expanded their reach from Garvanza to Silver Lake. One of the best paleo-friendly restaurants in Los Angeles, I’ve been eating at Amara for a couple years now. I love their bowls, avocado toast, and freshly made almond milk. They have some pickled sea vegetables that made me lose my mind the first time I tried them! Having become more mindful of what I consume, I am now predominantly seeking food that makes me feel nourished after I’ve eaten it. I was tired of the itis, you feel me? At MatchaBar, Amara is coming strong. I tried their Purple Egg Pot which was perfection, made with homemade pesto, pickled cabbage, pickled onions, roasted potatoes and a poached egg. This was everything I needed in a jar. If you try anything here, eat this. My sweet god! Also delicious was Amara’s granola with Straus Organic Yogurt, served in a pot. I am a sucker for good granola and I’ve stopped apologizing for it. This is my California nature, through and through. You will not be disappointed with theirs.

After starting my morning wrapped in a warm blanket found in latte form, I wanted to be bit more extravagant and ordered the Maple Latte, made with cinnamon, maple syrup and a Himalayan Salt. Only a tad sweeter than the aforementioned, I treated this drink as my “desert drink” to accompany my avocado toast. Nothing on this menu taste like liquid sugar and I need you to know that before pulling up to MatchaBar. They’re not serving the matcha variety you find at Starbucks, this is ceremonial grade matcha, with the intention of making you feel energized. Plant molecules y’all! For all my people who cannot process dairy or prefer nut milks, you will feel blessed with the mylk options here, 6 in total: almond, soy, hemp, macadamia, coconut, and a housemade cashew & almond milk. It’s these kind of accommodations that impress me in 2017.

My Maple Latte paired nicely with the organic Avocado Toast made with mashed avocado on sourdough bread, purple cabbage, pesto, and poached eggs. They also make this dish in a vegan, gluten-free, and dairy free option. The quality of ingredients is apparent and if Amara is making it, the pickled elements are going to be great. You feel better after eating organic food prepared with care, it’s as simple as that. I understand why this culinary pairing works so well, as MatchaBar has the same approach with their drinks. This is about wellness and feeling good. I look forward to returning to try their Sparkling Cucumber-Lime Matcha once it gets a little bit warmer. 

MatchaBar | 3534 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

 
Institute of Mentalphysics

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Institute of Mentalphysics

Comment Joshua Tree, California
 

The Institute of Mentalphyics and Joshua Tree Retreat Center is where I stay when I am in the High Desert. I first wrote about this magical place in 2012 and have been returning at least once a year since it came into my life. Also in ’12 I invited someone from Donald Glover’s Royalty crew on my desert tour, and although he couldn’t make it, I brought him back a meditation book from the center. Years later they held Childish Gambino’s “Pharos Experience” at the same space which I thought was quite interesting.

I had told Matty in length about where we were staying, but having spent many nights there over the past 6 years, I know that you don’t quite understand the power of the Institute of Mentalphysics until you step foot onto the property. Our room was modest, as all of them are. There aren’t amenities or robes, so if you describe yourself as “bougie” this place is not for you.  If you enjoy strolls in the desert sand surrounded by Joshua Trees, incredible architecture, labyrinths, late-night jacuzzi sessions, and most of all, spiritual awakenings, then this place should be added to your list. Rooms range from $60-$75 a night, plus a $8 pool/jacuzzi fee. The retreat center also has a great book store, offering an nice selection of Mentalphysics books, crystals, and singing bowls; I never leave there empty handed.

If its sacred geometry and earth magic that you love, you need to explore the Institute. The grounds are vast and the energy is vibrating on extra high levels. If you are in tune with nature, you are going to feel it here. Designed by world-renowned architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd, most of these unique buildings were built using sacred geometry circa 1941. The design of the land was carefully constructed, as to harness the powers of the ground below. The land on which the Center was built rests upon a aquifer (a running river), “producing an intriguing magnetic effect on those who enter this ancient and sacred space.” The energy at the Institute is unique and restorative – I’ve experienced many indescribable things while here. Matty can now also say the same, ask him. If it’s healing that you need, spend a couple nights here and I promise life will become clearer. 

Seeking mystical, mid-century modern, and magnetic forces? The Institute for Mentalphysics and Joshua Tree Retreat Center is the place. Although this spot has never been a secret, it has flown under the radar for decades. When people ask me where to stay in Joshua Tree, depending on who they are, this is where I suggest they stay. Not because it’s luxurious but because your spirit leaves with a full recharge. If you’re open to it, that is.

Institute of Mentalphyics | 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

 
 
Salton Sea

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Salton Sea

2 Comments Mecca, California
Salton Sea at Sunset
 

The Salton Sea is one of my favorite places in California. I’ve been going there for years and whenever I am in the desert, I always make time for a trip out there. It’s a strange and beautiful place. It feels nearly abandoned and is surrounded by death, but there is magic in the air if you open yourself up to it.

If you are coming from Joshua Tree, the drive to the Salton Sea is about 1hr 15mins and if you’re coming from Palm Springs, the drive is under an hour. I typically enter through the visitor center off HWY 111, either on my way to or from Salvation Mountain, located in Slab City just beyond Niland, approximately 30 mins away. I know this drive like the back of my hand but I recommend if you’re new to this adventure, pay close attention on the highway or you just might miss it. Look for the large light blue road side that reads “Salton Sea Recreation Area.” 

When I bring friends to the Salton Sea, I can never anticipate what their response will be and that’s mostly do to the pungent smell coming from the hundreds of thousands dead tilapia washed up on the shore. Upon arrival I say not a word and then lead my guest onto the sand. As we begin to walk, someone always mentions the crunch of the sand underneath our feet. I lean in and say “that’s not sand, we are walking on decaying fish carcases.” The sound can be best described as walking on Captain Crunch. It makes for an interesting moment to say the least.

This was the first time I had been at the Salton Sea during sunset. Matty and I had a full day of my favorite desert sights and we were speeding back from Salvation Mountain in order to catch the Salton Sea before it got dark. We found ourselves chasing the sun every day on our road trip, as we weren't going to let a moment go to waste. I’m glad it worked out this way because I had never experienced such beauty at the Salton Sea. It was surreal. The beauty of Earth never ceases to amaze me, but after all these years, I experienced something new at a place I was so familiar with. I was hyped that Matty was in awe too. 

Salton Sea | 100-225 State Park Rd, Mecca, CA 92254

 
Salton Sea, Mecca California
 
Salton Sea California
Maachew Bentley at the Salton Sea
Dead fish at the Salton Sea
Sunset at the Salton Sea, Mecca, California
Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, Mecca, California
Bristol Dry Lake

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Bristol Dry Lake

Comment Mojave Desert, California
 

I have been traveling to Bristol Dry Lake for over 5 years now and it's one of my favorite places in the country. When I'm out here, it almost feels like I'm on another planet, or the closest thing I can imagine it to feel like. This is not such an easily achievable feeling, nor is it easy to find, which makes this beautiful landscape a rare one on Earth. Over the years I have invited people to experience this beautiful place but only the realest have made the journey. In the Mojave Desert, there is an entirely different vibration and it stays calling me.

If you love to drive, the trek to the salt fields satisfies those open-road urges. With no glimpse of life as you know it, you may find yourself testing out how much speed you truly need behind the wheel. To know it, you must experience it. 

About 50 mins Northwest of Twenynine Palms and 15 mins Southeast of Amboy and Route 66, you'll find Bristol Dry Lake. There are no signs or indicators so keep your eyes peeled for a bedding of raised earth and a reflective water source. If you're coming from Twentynine Palms, it'll be on your left. Parking is simply on the side of the road, you'll figure it out.. And never forget, leave a place just as you found it or even cleaner.

34.4622º N, 115.6739º W

 
 
Desert Christ Park

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Desert Christ Park

Comment Yucca Valley, California
 
 

One of the first stops on Matty and I's desert excursion was Desert Christ Park, located in Yucca Valley. I've always had an affinity for places that feel abandoned, especially when there is erosion and the sense of loss is near palpable; there is plenty of that at this once-pristine desert amusement park dedicated to Christ's life and teachings. Established in 1951, this outdoor museum is home to forty Bible-inspired statues sprawled across a 3.5 acre desert landscape. If it is an interesting desert energy that you seek, climb up the hill surrounding the area and allow the wind envelop your entire body. When the breeze subsides you have the potential to tap into silence with each step up you take. It'll change your attitude.

Desert Christ Park | 56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284 

 
 
Kendall's Brasserie

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Kendall's Brasserie

Comment Los Angeles, California
 
 

I am low-key mad that I never made it into Kendall’s Brasserie prior to 2017. French food has always held a special place in my heart, especially in my teens and early twenties when I was an overzealous Francophile who listened to a lot of France Gall, Serge Gainsbourg, and Françoise Hardy and watched everything Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer and Breillat made. Having never been to France - unfortunately even still - as a youth I romanticized everything about the country. As an adult on the other hand, one who wrote her UCLA senior thesis about the xenophobia tied to the banning of the head scarf in France, my world-view of the country has certainly changed, but my love for their food and culinary practices has exponentially grown.

Prior to my first visit, Kendall’s was not the kind of restaurant I would suggest to friends, as it usually appeared to be filled with older men in business suits and that has never been my idea of a fun time. Recently while at The Broad, I gave Kendall’s another glance and noticed something changed, which made me reconsider my previous notions. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I’ve since learned the restaurant went through a remodel and are now positioning themselves with the fresher DTLA vibe.

Upon arrival at Kendall's I was quick to notice the restaurant’s beautiful dark woods and white marble bar. The restaurant felt grown and sexy, just as I have imagined brasseries in France to be. The restaurant’s environment was chill for a mid-day lunch, much the opposite juxtaposed to Grand Avenue outside its front doors. There are a variety of dining areas to choose from–romantic and tucked away in a room full of leather booths, bathing in natural sunlight by the windows, al fresco, a seat at the bar, or posted up with your laptop at their new counter with accessible plugs for those needing to charge up during a power lunch. The space reflects much of what Chef Jean-Pierre Bosc loves about his homeland of France–simple, beautiful, and refined. Each year he visits his hometown of Lyon and through the restaurant design process, shared photos of his travel adventures which included plenty of culinary celebrations with friends and family. Kendall's aimed to capture that essense.

 
 

My recent foray into Kendall's Brasserie made for one of the richest lunches I can recollect. When delving into any French menu, my order typically includes charcuterie, escargot, beef tartare, and steak frites, so that I may gather a thoughtful assessment of the chef's vision. At Kendall's, I was delighted with three out of the four aforementioned. My only true disappointment was my steak, which I asked for medium rare, and was served nearly medium well. Such has become my typical experience with Los Angeles steaks, as I speculate chefs assume most of us don't want blood. I do.

If you’re looking for a elevated cocktail and wine menu, you won’t be disappointed with the restaurant’s options. I haven’t been in the mood to drink, much less on a weekday afternoon, so I opted for a raspberry lemonade, which was made fresh at the bar. I began my savory lunch with a couple small plates – the Deviled Farm Eggs with lemon aioli and Santa Barbara sea urchin and Steak Tartare made with natural beef, capers, and pickled red onion. The deviled eggs, although not my idea, were absolutely delicious. Over the past couple of years I’ve continued to see Deviled Eggs edge their way on to countless menus in Los Angeles, with their peak moment circa 2014. As I mentioned, these were quite good, topped with sea urchin after all, but do they have any business on a French menu? As for the Steak Tartare, perfectly prepared with fresh beef, olive oil, capers, egg yolk and worchester sauce, this dish was so incredibly flavorful that I found myself scrapping every last bit on to my fork despite the anticipation of many dishes ahead of me. I barely touched the bread that accompanied the tartare, as the flavors were so vibrant in each bite, I didn’t want to risk interference. I love tartare–steak, ahi, or otherwise. The flavor of raw meat is something that awakens my senses and Kendall’s delivered in every way. If by chance you are like me and live for steak tartare, you must pull up a seat and enjoy every heavenly bite of this dish.

Up next was Kendall's colorful Heirloom Beet Salad, made with goat cheese bonbons, little gem lettuce, oro blanco, pistachio and Satsuma tangerine. After taking one look at this fresh creation there was no surprise as to why it was the official salad of the Grammys last year. As a long-time beet lover it’s been a thrill to see beets pop up all over the country. Long gone are the days of beet slander warranted by the gross canned creations so many of us remember as children. Dark purples and golden hues were laid before me, my eyes bulging with excitement upon each flavorful bite. Goat cheese bonbons? I was tickled with these babies. It’s an obvious win to have balls of goat cheese to accompany a salad, especially with bright bites of citrus along for the ride. If you’ve experienced this variation before, it’s just as delicious here. It’ll leave a smile on all my beet lovers faces.

One of the dishes I was most excited to experiences was the Porc en Trois, pig in three parts or “tasty pig parts” as they called it. I was most excited to eat this when I first looked at the menu, and after speaking with Chef Jean-Pierre, this was the first thing he mentioned when I asked about the “must-orders" on his menu. Classically French, with head cheese, pig ears, and trotter, this wooden tray of pig treats was quite the savory experience. As a child who spent a lot of time in my Mexican American grandmother’s kitchen, I developed an affinity for pig parts, particularly because of the giant jar of pig’s feet she kept and fed me when I would want a snack. Looking back on that culinary upbringing, I realize now I didn’t full understand what I was eating, all I knew is that is was delicious. Trotter, the French term for pig’s feet, were transformed into crispy croquettes before my eyes and they were a revelation. Never had I eaten pig’s feet in this form and for that, it’s criminal. Although one of the richest pieces of food I’ve consumed in months, it was worth every bite. The flavors encased my tongue, leaving it to linger in my mouth. The richness was delightfully unreal, so much, that I could only indulge in one of them, and even so, I could not finish it. Sometimes greatness only needs to be experienced in a few bites. The headcheese and pig ears were not to be ignored, but the trotter croquettes were hands down the show stopper of the charcuterie plate. 

 
 
 

Kendall’s is dropping some of the best French fries in Downtown Los Angeles, and it’s no surprise they take this crown when they are prepared in duck fat and tossed in garlic. They’re perfectly crispy and rich with every bite. These fries are ideal for a glutinous night of spoiling – preferably by a gorgeous man feeding you with this hands (or insert your fantasy here). French Fries are one of my favorite things to eat, although I have limited my intake, and when they’re executed like Kendall’s, it will make you mad at all the terrible ones you’ve consumed before them. Bad French Fries are a travesty, so when you want to treat yourself, come here. Even if you simply pull up to the bar and order a drink with a side of fries, you’ll be glad you did.

Croque Madame should be saved for a special weekend brunch indulgence. When you’re ready to take that dip into Sauce Mornay, you can do that at Kendall's and be happy with your decision. After all that was nibbled on, I was overwhelmed when I saw our server gliding our way with a tray displaying this beautiful sandwich. At Kendall’s, the Croque Madame is made with Jambon de Paris, comte cheese, levain country bread, farm egg, and sauce Mornay. After some research I found that Jambon de Paris is made according to the “traditional French charcuterie recipe for cooked ham." Thinly sliced and tucked under melted cheese, each bite of the Croque Madame is part crunchy, with bits of toasted cheese and smooth with creamy Mornay and melted cheese. This is a rare dish that tastes just as good as it looks. If you've never had the pleasure, try it here, preferably al fresco one beautiful Sunday morning.

For those who are keeping tabs on where to eat escargot in LA, I enjoyed this twist on the classic dish. These burgundy snails rest in a pool of absinthe-garlic butter inside a puff pastry. At first glance they look like pastry shooters, but when served, you'll need a tiny fork to make your way to these little guys. Every element used in this dish is necessary to its perfection, remove one and it simply wouldn't be the same. If you have never had the opportunity to eat snails, I am confident this would make for a pleasurable first experience. It may have taken me a decade to finally walk though Kendall's doors, but now that I have, it will be my pleasure to recommend this French restaurant when someone asks. 

Kendall's Brasserie | 135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

 
Wild Living Foods

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Wild Living Foods

Comment Los Angeles, California
Wild Living Foods located in Downtown is one of the best vegan restaurants in LA. Vegan avocado toast
 

If you grew up in Los Angeles than you know how much easier it is to access healthy foods, although we aren't without our own food deserts. Our proximity to fresh produce is not to be taken for granted. If you’ve ever found yourself at an airport outside of L.A. searching for a green juice or a mixed green salad, than you know how spoiled we are living here. It’s been a long time joke that our city is health crazed - remember the health food restaurant scene in Annie Hall - but L.A. has long embraced that lifestyle, becoming home to wild cleanses, sprouted beans, cold pressed juices, and some of the best vegan food in the world. Over the years I have embraced all that our city has to offer and having recently switched to more of a plant-based diet, I stay on the search for restaurants that serve delicious and substantial raw, vegan, and vegetarian food.  Love it even more when the cost is not insane. A healthier lifestyle has meant that I feel better, look better, and most importantly have the energy to accomplish the things I need to.

Wild Living Foods is a blessing to Downtown Los Angeles. Although parking is a nightmare unless you have cash to burn, I know I'm going to frequent WLF, if even to run in to grab one of their organic cold-pressed juices with names like Cayenne West, A Tribe Called Red, and ASAP Yams. Although I I found the Yams name to be sus initially, I sat down with one of the owners, a WOC, and she explained that one of the goals of the space was to make food approachable and accessible to brown and black communities, who so often feel excluded when it comes to healthy restaurants in Los Angeles. With names inspired by major players in rap, she hopes it'll motivate more people to reach for a juice instead of less healthier options. I must add that the ASAP Yams, made yams, carrots, fuji apples, green apples, cinnamon and nutmeg is one of the best juices I've had in L.A., and served in an eco-conscious glass bottle.

Richard Torres and Lizbeth Sanchez, also owners of The Holy Grail, have long been involved with the hip hop community and they've seen their passion project come to life with Wild Living Foods. Interestingly while at the restaurant I ran into a rapper’s manager, a well-known artist, and a Project Runway alumni which lead me to believe this is quickly becoming the spot for creatives working and living in Downtown. With lots of natural light streaming from the windows, ample seating, and a casual vibe, this is a great place to link for a meeting, a quick bite to eat, or to take a reprieve from your daily grind. Whatever your purpose, it'll be served here. And the food is good.

 
Wild Living Foods one of the best vegan and raw restaurants in LA. Organic cold pressed juices LA.
 
Best vegan restaurants in LA. Wild Living Foods is one of the best raw restaurants in LA. Vegan tacos in LA. Best food blogs LA.
 

WLF is a fully organic, plant-based living foods restaurant. Aside from the quinoa, no dish is prepared over 118º, keeping vital nutrients and enzymes in tact. This means every dish consumed is nutrient dense; instead of catching the itis, you’re going to feel great after your meal. You won’t want to take a nap, but rather, feel energized for the rest of your day. You will feel replenished and nourished, quite possibly even questioning why you’ve been eating junk your whole life. 

At Wild Living Foods they have signature salads, quinoa bowls, and a build-your-own station, but on my first visit, I chose to order straight from their kitchen menu. The Spicy Tuna Roll is a revelation! Made with almond tuna, tomato, mustard, barbecue kale chips, spicy chipotle mayo, avocado, red cabbage and romain lettuce, this roll is unlike anything I’ve ever had and I wish I could eat it every day. When you go to WLF, this should be the first thing you order. It is fresh and delicious, made to order, with a major crunch in each bite. You’re going to think you’ve lost your girl NJ when I say this, but I love kelp noodles, and I have for a long time. For this reason, I could not pass up the Rad Thai, made with marinated kelp noodles and seasoned vegetables, tossed in a creamy turmeric sesame sauce, tipped with orange lime zest and teriyaki dressing. This was an actual dream in a bowl, packed with bright flavors and ingredients. The noodles were delightfully bouncy and the cream sauce in which they were tossed had me moaning at the table. One thing to keep in mind when you order dishes like the ones described above, don’t assume it'll taste like the original that inspired them. It's fine, they’re brilliant in their own way.

I wouldn’t be living my best life if I didn't order the Wild Living Food’s version of Avocado Toast, made with crushed avocado, brazil nut cheese and tomato, on spouted almond toast. Cannot believe I am going to utter these words, but although I loved the flavor of this dish, there was too much avocado, and it over-powered the other ingredients. I still very much enjoyed it though, don’t get it twisted. I'd never tried sprouted almond toast, so that was fun. Rounding out the rest of the meal was the Pablo Burger made with a homemade burger patty with freshly made cashew cheese, mustard, ketchup, stacked with lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, served on onion bread. Had I only ordered this, I am not sure if it would be filling enough for an entree, but despite it's unfamiliar appearance, all of the flavors worked together nicely, especially the notes of homemade ketchup coming through. The onion bread felt more like two thin discs, which made it hard to hold together, but it didn't compromise the flavor, only it's design.

 
Wild Living Foods located in Downtown is one of the best vegan restaurants in LA. Vegan pad thai aka Rad Thai is a must order.
 

Let’s talk about Lettuce Eat Tacos, made with cashew cheese, pumpkinseed chorizo, marinated kale, avocado, walnut taco crumble, chipotle kale chips, red cabbage, cucumber, tomato, topped with sour cream, pepita and hemp oil, served on a romaine lettuce leaf. I love tacos of all kinds, including ones wrapped in lettuce and these beauties were a bounty of fresh ingredients perfectly matched up. I absolutely love food that is crunchy, the sensation always takes it up a level for me, and each bite satisfied that urge. I could've used a bit more salt in the mix but that aside, these lettuce-wrapped tacos would be ideal for lunch or dinner, especially if you're transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle, but don't want to feel hungry after.

Everything at Wild Living Foods is made from scratch – they have an industrial juicer, blender, and hydrater to name a few. The tiles lining the floor are hand-poured and sourced from Nicaragua. The food is organic and non-gmo, with better price points because you order at counter, and the cost of a hostess and server is removed. Open from 8am - 11pm, this is one of the few places you can enjoy raw and vegan throughout the day. The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Belinda Wei, Chef de Cuisine Alex Gomez, and sous chef Abel Gomez, with Santino Rice as the man behind the beverage program. With the philosophy of "Food is Spirit" and "Food is Medicine", I can get behind a restaurant who aims to improve the well-being of their customer through their thoughtfully crafted menu. 

Wild Living Foods | 760 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

 
Wild Living Foods best vegan restaurants in LA. Downtown LA vegan restaurants. Raw and vegan desserts.
Odys + Penelope

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Odys + Penelope

Comment Los Angeles, California
One of the best shrimp and grits in LA can be surprisingly be found at Odys Penelope in Mid-City. Made with cauliflower, this recipe is unique. Odys+ Penelope
 
Odys Penelope located in Mid City Los Angeles, is one of the coolest designed restaurants in LA. Odys + Penelope.
 

Odys + Penelope, located in the bustling La Brea District and conceptualized by the talented duo Chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield, has been feeding the neighborhood for a little over two years now. From the outside you could surmise that O+P offers a cut-above Los Angeles dining experience and that you should have a little more cash in your pocket if you planned on dining in, but make no mistake, it's not going to break the bank. The times I’d pass by this beautiful space I was either leaving a Sonos Studios listening session or hitting street wear boutiques, and the vibe inside always appeared to be unique to the space. A very chill ambience far removed from all the noise on the street. Each time I would peer in, I'd get a glimpse of servers walking with beautiful dishes and at least one low-key celeb enjoying a glass of wine.  

Brunch is serious in Los Angeles. Forget the slander of the early 00s, as read in Bourdain’s 2001 “Kitchen Confidential” where he revealed all the nasty details behind weekend brunch. That was 16 years ago and the stories didn’t take place in the brunch capital of America, where menus are now being fine tuned to satiate weekend debauchery. I love brunch because it can be an interesting way to gauge whether or not I'd like to return for dinner. If the service is good and the dishes executed well, I am more prone to put down the cash for dinner. If it falls short, I don't feel like I wasted much.

We walked in to Odys + Penelope on a Saturday morning. I was drawn to the concrete and glass design of the exterior and although I love the severity and coldness of cement, I appreciated the warmth that exuded from the blocks inside the interior of the space. The restaurant was filled with natural light, dark woods, and high ceilings. There was a partially exposed area of the kitchen (a personal favorite) adorned with piles of firewood and citrus. The chef's counter made entirely with a beautiful slab of concrete popped with bright orange chairs. The space was originally a printing press and was re-imagined by designer Alexis Readinger of Preen Inc. The space is best articulated as modern rustic, and most definitely after my own heart.

 
Martine Syms enjoys the frisee and smoked trout salad at Odys Penelope brunch. Best food photography. Best LA Food Blog. Odys Penelope. Top 10 food blogs.
 

I stay on the hunt for a brunch banger and Odys + Penelope had a couple, not to say the meal wasn’t without some misses. My favorites were so good though, I would absolutely return to order them again. In fact, if I were writing a “Best Pancakes in LA” guide, their cornmeal ricotta pancakes with Pudwill blueberries, salted butter and maple syrup would be near the top of the list. While eating those pancakes I was simultaneously in heaven while low-key mad that I’d never had them before. Had I been asleep on cornmeal pancakes all these years? Had I eaten them before but they simply weren't memorable? I don't know. The flavor of each pancake was so delicious I barely needed butter or syrup–but let’s not get it twisted, I did enjoy a little slather and splash of both. There are countless restaurants skating by on mediocre pancakes in Los Angeles, acting as if people don’t know the difference between good and bad. Quite possibly, they don’t. I do, and I am telling you now that it's criminal if you don't add them to your must-eat brunch list. They were light and fluffy, with a a slight hint cornmeal grit. I loved them.

Quality shrimp and grits are not easy to come by in our city but when the stunning dish arrived at our table I knew I had made the right choice with my order. I put my classic grit standards aside for this brief moment as these “grits” are made with cauliflower. Don’t roll your eyes but riced cauliflower is one of the LA food trends I can get behind; it’s healthier, while not compromising flavor. Grilled prawns and cauliflower grits with smoked paprika butter, my goodness. Creamy with each bite and bursting with robust flavor, the prawns just the right kind of crunchy. I would order this many times over.

 
Avocado Toast at Odys Penelope. Where to eat avocado toast in LA. Top 10 Food Blogs. Top blog sites.
 
Adobo rice bowl at Odys Penelope.  Where to eat brunch in LA. Odys + Penelope. Top 10 Food Blogs. Top blog sites.
 

For those who’ve been following my perpetual avocado toast hunt, I am disappointed to report that there were no surprises here. This dish was the standard issue of what I typically make at home, but with a superior bread. I didn’t feel special eating it. No one was putting me on to something new and exciting. If I’m taking time out for a long Saturday brunch, I seek to enjoy meals that I can’t easily make at home. I read it’s description on the menu – grilled focaccia avocado toast with house ricotta and cherry tomatoes - but you already know what you read is not always what you get. I was hoping there’d be some exotic salt or surprise ingredient. The bread was excellent, the produce and cheese on point, but if this is what you’re already eating in your free time, skip it here. If you're not an avocado toast hound, then you'll love it.

The Adobo Fried Rice bowl was hyped majorly, before I went in for brunch and while seated inside the restaurant. As a Latina, I am no stranger to adobo, so it’s been wild seeing it become so popular amongst a different group of people. I remember last year a championed food magazine called it the hot new ingredient and POC rolled their eyes in unison. I was excited to see on the menu and was curious about its execution, especially since there’s a cult following for the other one down the street. The presentation of this bowl is undoubtedly delightful and one of the more substantial brunch options. This dish looks glorious as it makes its way to the table, so there's much excitement when it's actually placed in front of you. The eggs were perfect, the rice done well, but I found myself relying on the sauce entirely for the bites of flavor. Not disappointed with the adobo boldness in the slightest, bringing a slight sensation to my tongue but this is one dish I’d need to try again, to fully commit. I heard they also have a dinner option which piqued my interest.

Odys + Penelope is committed to local and sustainable products. The restaurant uses prime meats and their poultry is free range and contains no antibiotics. They serve dinner 7 nights a week and brunch on Saturday & Sunday. Walk-ins are welcome.

Odys + Penelope | 127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

 
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Odys Penelope brunch. Where to eat brunch mid-city. Where to eat brunch in LA. Odys + Penelope. Top 10 Food Blogs. Top blog sites.
 
Best Pancakes in LA. Best Pancakes in Los Angeles. Odys Penelope Brunch. Odys + Penelope. Top 10 Food Blogs. Top blog sites.