Los Angeles pro: this city is full of good eats. Los Angeles con: this city is so spread out. Now that we live in the Southbay I’m not getting out as much as I used to… and the kid probably has something to do with it as well. But, when I do get out, I love to share my finds! So, without further ado, these are the 5 best food and drink finds of September 2023 in Los Angeles. (PS – excuse my amature food photographs; I promise you everything tastes better than it may look.)
The Best Meal: Barr Barr
I’m starting off this list with a lie. This wasn’t my best eat of September, but I was so impressed with this downtown LA restaurant when I visited over the summer that I wanted to tell you all about it! This is Indian food as I’ve never seen it before; the restaurant has an upscale, trendy vibe and the food is definitely using Indian flavors but with unique twists that you won’t find at your typical spot. We ate a lot that night but I think my favorites may have been the Lamb Chop Burrah Kebal – which says a lot since I didn’t realize that I liked lamb chops until this experience. The Cheese and Jalapeno Naan is also a must-order.
The Best Cocktail: Guava Spicy Margarita at Smorgasbar
I’m a huge fan of Smorgasburg – the massive food festival that happens every Sunday at ROW DTLA. I went to check out their bar version… which is not exactly alike. Smorgasbar is a small bar pop-up, also at ROW-DTLA, which is open on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s a laid-back vibe (although there is a DJ spinning tunes), and they have collaborated with the team at Guelaguetza, the Oaxacan restaurant in Koreatown that is DELIC, to create a Micheladas menu. But, back to my favorite cocktail – it was their Guava Spicy Margarita, that was actually on tap at the bar. It was both spicy and sweet and it went down (too) easily. The rest of the menu features highly curated wines, mezcals, and beers. The pop-up runs until mid-November so get there while you can.
The Best Glass of Wine: 2022 Rose of Grenache at Tensley Tasting Room
To start off our date night, Gregg and I visited the Tensley Tasting Room in Brentwood to have a drink (or rather, 4 mini ones). Their tasting menu featured 4 wines for $25 and I thought they were all fabulous. I’m highlighting their Rose because I typically am not a fan of this wine. Unlike other roses I’ve had, it had a bit of a bolder flavor and less of that acidic after-taste that I usually associate with roses (I’m not a sommelier, so no idea if these descriptions actually make sense). The winery describes “the nose” as having aromas of “tangerine, peach, and strawberry,” and all I know is I could have drank the entire bottle if given the option.
The Best Hidden Gem: 106 Seafood Underground
You are guaranteed to park in the residential neighborhood that this restaurant is located in and question if you’re in the right place. As you walk along someone’s driveway to enter the spot you’ll wonder if you’re trespassing. But if you keep going, you’ll end up in this Inglewood restaurant that is literally in someone’s backyard; while planes from LAX fly overhead, you’ll enjoy the city’s best mariscos (Mexican seafood) around. Their menu features a lot of shrimp, and my favorite items were both just that; the garlic shrimp and the Ceviche de Manzana (shrimp with apples and a big kick of spice)!
The Best Salad: The Santa Monica Sunrise at Alfala
I am so thankful for Alfala because I’m just gonna say it – the main salad spot in the game, Sweetgreens, is overrated. Alfalfa, the Hobokoen-based salad joint, makes my favorite salad ever – the West Coast – which features dates, goat cheese, strawberries, and almonds. What I had this month was their newest addition to the menu, The Sunrise, which featured mango, crispy turmeric chickpeas, avocado, chicken, cucumber, onion, and a red-pepper feta which I could have bathed in. Good news for the folks in LA, they just opened a second location in Larchmont Village.