Dinner on Ice—a pop-up dinner (presented by Capital One Cafe) featuring five-courses fromMasterChef Finalist Chef Derrick Fox,cocktail pairings, ice skating and more—will take placeat ICE at Santa Monica on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
A limited number of tickets are available for $100 in advance, and all inclusive of skate rental fee, dinner and open bar. Guests are encouraged to dress in cozy winter attire.
The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.
It’s for those with impeccable taste – What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.
Be undercover – Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.
Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.
Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.
With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.
Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell
Right when you walk into Sloan’s Ice Cream in Santa Monica, you enter a world of pure imagination. Sloan’s invited Girls on Food and a few of our influencer pals in to taste and photograph a few of their favorite icy concoctions.
When I hear the word “tavern”, my mind takes me back to a bar scene from the TV Show, Cheers. Picture a dimly-lit, confined space with bar stools that make you slouch and not much else to look at. While there’s certainly a time and a place for divey spots like this, there’s also a time and a place to step it up a notch.
Case in point: recently opened Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, a modern neighborhood restaurant. The spacious, extended patio overlooks the Loews Hotel, JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot and Santa Monica Pier. I checked out JFAT on Ocean Avenue’s Day at the Races earlier in May and tasted the Southwestern Dip and Mint Julep. This time around I tasted a lot more.
Poke is a personal favorite of mine. I have flashbacks of being in Oahu and walking along the beach. The addition of papaya to this Spicy Ahi Poke added more island flair to this appetizer. After one bite I found myself compulsively searching airfare prices to Hawaii.
On the last visit, Meagan and I pestered Head Bartender Sam into creating a caffeinated cocktail for her. Sam took us up on this challenge and instantly concocted the Caffettoso: espresso, Amaro Averna, Kahlua, and vodka with lemon zest. We’re very pleased to see this drink, which will keep you wide awake during your boozy brunch, has since been added to their brunch menu!
O+O’s Bottomless Brunch Menu (Saturdays and Sundays 11 AM – 3 PM) might just be one of the best damn brunch deals in all of Los Angeles! For $20 per person, not only do you get bottomless Mimosas, Aperol Spritzes and Bellinis, but your table also gets one tasting platter, including an ample amount of Italian cheeses, olives and other delicious starters. It’s one per table, but that’s still a fantastic package that’ll keep you full if you’re sipping the day away.
Their mimosa is a combo of prosecco and blood orange juice, while the bellini is prosecco with peach puree… but the Aperol Spritz is my favorite. Nothing beats this combo of prosecco and blood orange juice with a bitter Aperol kick.
Since 1921, Pacific Dining Car, Los Angeles’ only 24-hour fine dining establishment (7 days a week) has been serving their loyal customers the best in steakhouse cuisine. Now on their fourth generation of family-ownership, and spearheaded by Chef Mark Kalenderian, PDC is breathing some new life into their menu, while maintaining all the favorites.
Pacific Dining Car
1310 W. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017 http://pacificdiningcar.com
* Santa Monica location: 2700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
You may remember seeing PCD in many films and TV shows. Most notably, the 2001film Training Day. Denzel Washington’s character, Alonzo, tells Ethan Hawke’s Jake “Get yourself a Baseball Steak.”
Yes, cinephiles, the Baseball Steak is currently on the menu, you can dine like Denzel.
The second I stepped into this spacious, wood-paneled dining car, I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a vintage Los Angeles-based pulp novel. The lighting is dim, the seating is plush and the décor is old school- my kind of place.
There are 6 different rooms at PDC to dine in, I was arranged to taste their new specials in the Astor Room. I was immediately struck by the elegance of this room; everything from the velvet chairs, white linens, fine china and Wallace silverware. I felt a little guilty for not rocking one of my Unique Vintage dresses to dine but the maitre d’ didn’t flinch at my appearance.
Although this is a fine-dining, the dress code is flexible. All walks of life are welcome to dine at PDC- you could be Joe Schmoe and you’ll receive the same high-class treatment as Johnny Depp.
Surfrider Foundation helps protect our beaches and to keep our waters clean. I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with three core volunteers Summer, Josh and Graham from the West Los Angeles Malibu Chapter. My son has participated in beach clean ups before for Dock Weiler (#proudmomma!) so I was happy for him to meet others who are noble in their care for beaches as well.
We were given a card that mapped out all 7 places we needed to visit and had to have checked off on our list. Once you complete the card, you have the opportunity to bring it back to the main booth at Del Frisco’s and be entered in a drawing to win a night stay at The Shore Hotel. Who wouldn’t want to win staying at a cool, chic and hip hotel right on Ocean Avenue?
How can you not get excited for a culinary crawl that celebrates the Kentucky Derby and raises funds for the Surfrider Foundation? I know I am!
Restaurants and hotels along Santa Monica’s premier oceanfront street come togetherforOcean Avenue’s Day at the Races, a culinary walking tour to celebrate the Kentucky Derby and raise funds for the Surfrider Foundation onSaturday, May 6, from 12-5 p.m.
Come out and support by purchasing a ticket for $40 here (a portion on all ticket sales will benefit Surfrider Foundation).
This crawl will begin atDel Frisco’s Grillewith their signatureAhi Tuna Tacosand a complimentary Mint Julep courtesy ofAmerican Born. Then we’ll trot along for food and drink tastings at each of the participating locations and watch the race at 3:34 p.m.
Food offerings include classicSicilian meatballsat O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar. Julianne recently checked out this new-ish spot and I’m excited to try all the Sicilian goodness myself! Then we’ll race off to try Corn & Goat Cheese Tamales at Red O,Oysters Rockefellerat Herringbone, Chicken and BeefEmpanadasat Shore Hotel and more.
On the cutest street in Santa Monica sits a narrow restaurant called Ashland Hill. I went to check it out on a rainy Wednesday night. We were offered seating in the intimate bar inside or on the covered back patio; I opted for the patio. The sound of the rain pattering on the cover mixed with laughter and the occasional dog bark made for a truly cozy atmosphere. (Bonus: friendly dogs are allowed on the patio!) Even though we could still see and hear the rain, the backyard was kept warm and bright. Ashland Hill 2807 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 https://www.ashlandhill.com/
Ashland Hill offers a number of beverage options, but they’re known for their gin and tonic bar. You can choose your own combination from a list of gins around the world and tonics including varieties such as Yuzu, Mediterranean, and Grapefruit. OR you can try one of their Gin and Tonic cocktails as I opted for. The first cocktail up was the Silky Smooth which featured Tru Organic Gin, East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic, Orange Bitters, Aperol, Lime juice, and Kumquats. It tasted like the best grown up candy, the drink’s sweetness being tamed by the bitter of the grapefruit and both brought together by the Aperol.
The second cocktail up was The Wildflower; a concoction of Cutler’s Gin, Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, Grapefruit bitters, and bell pepper juice. The drink was herbal and vegetal. The bell pepper juice gave it a flavor reminiscent of summer gardens. Our server Josh also recommended The Big Lou for diners who might not like big Juniper-y gins but still want to try one of the gin cocktails.
For dinner we started with the Burrata which was accompanied by jalapeno pea mash, caramelized onion, sugar snap peas, pea leaves, and toasted sourdough. Holy peas Batman! The pea mash was sweet and fresh, although I would have enjoyed a little more kick from the jalapenos. The caramelized onion paired so well with the burrata, I wondered why I had never had this combo before? You might need to get extra bread with this dish; it is a very hearty serving, and the bread went quickly!
Next up was the Crispy Cauliflower and Ceviche. The cauliflower came served with salmoriglio (an Italian dressing made with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and herbs), Parmesan, saffron aioli, pickled vegetables, and espelette (a Basque chili). The crispy texture was perfect, and the drizzle of sauces was just enough to flavor the dish without being overwhelming. I also really enjoyed the pickled veggies, they gave a crisp, vinegary contrast.
The Ceviche was made of marinated seafood, jalapeno, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and crispy tortillas. I loved the crispy tortillas! They were thick, warm, and salty. The ceviche itself was different; the marinade was creamier than what I’ve had before maybe because of the avocado. Again I would have enjoyed a little more kick from the jalapeno!
For a larger plate, we had the Chicken Shawarma, a wrap stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, tahini and served with parmesan fries and cucumber yogurt. I could eat this every day; the lavash wrap was perfectly thin, and crispy on the outside and the chicken was super flavorful. I’m also a sucker for a good French fry and those hit the spot! They also offer this dish with falafel for the vegetarians in your party.
Our final dish was their Market Blueberry Crumble, an oat crumble, whipped white chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. The oat crumble was delicious, and the ice cream they serve is fantastic. The dish comes with a heaping serving of blueberries, almost like a granola cobbler. The piece de resistance, however, was the whipped white chocolate, how do you make that and can I get a gallon of it?!
With the fantastic atmosphere and tasty food, Ashland Hill could be an excellent choice for many outings. Take your dog or your date and stroll the cute Santa Monica street post-dinner. Dining with a picky group? Ashland Hill’s menu denotes which items are gluten free, and they also have a lot of vegetarian options. It would be the ideal restaurant for a mixed group or family since the menu caters to all; the unadventurous will feel safe with a burger or fish and chips while the foodie in your group might like to try the Grilled Octopus or Shishito Mac & Cheese. If you’re all on the same page, I recommend sharing a bunch of plates, everything I tried shared well. The prices are fantastic especially considering the generous portions and quality and the service was prompt and gracious, what more could you want?
I’m terrible when it comes to eating a full breakfast, I’m usually a cup of black coffee kind of gal. But nothing makes me happier than being able to sit down and have a full breakfast that’s tasty and keeps me full all day.
Since 1994, Bread and Porridge has been serving up some of the best breakfast on the Westside. I discovered this place when I moved to LA and thought I’d share with you a couple of my favorite breakfast items in town.
Instead of my usual black coffee, I decided to live a little and have a Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate. It was topped with an ample amount of whipped cream (just how I always had it as a kid) and totally hits that comforting spot.
The Ultimate Breakfast Burrito is my favorite item to get here. Not only is it jam-packed, but they wrap it tight enough so it all stays in the tortilla (major points for that!). This is a classic breakfast burrito with rice, beans, eggs, cheddar cheese and pico de gallo, and it comes with a side of house-made salsa, sour cream and guac. Editor note – I order it with their Cilantro Verde Sausage, made with turkey and chicken in place of the usual sausage.
I really went all out with my sweet tooth here! I also got the Original Belgian Waffle topped with strawberries, Nutella and a fresh vanilla cream. I’m a Nutella fanatic, so this treat really hits the spot.
Right when I walked in, I fell in love with O + O right off the bat, because its atmosphere is the perfect blend of neighborhood haunt meets date night. I love spots that are somewhere in between casual and formal (can’t they all be like that?). My friend Meagan (@caffeineaddictfoodie) and I bellied up to the bar for a night packed with delicious eats and drinks.
We lucked out and Sam (@samhatley), the Bar Manager, who created the cocktail menu, was bartending and allowed Meagan and me to pick his brain on the drinks (which we did a lot of). We were able to try a lot of the cocktails (don’t panic, we took Lyft) and here are our favorites:
My Top Cocktail Picks:
1.) La Matcha Vita – Mezcal, Matcha, Mint, Ginger, Lemon. Has a lemony, sweet start and a bold, smokey finish.
2.) The Oakey – Perfecto Mundo Reposado, Cinque, Mandarinetto, Blood Orange Juice. Lots of citrus and smokiness throughout sips.
Meagan’s Top Cocktail Picks:
1.) Sicilian Mule – Vodka, Lime, Ginger, Basil, Blood Orange. Perfect for Moscow Mule lovers, crisp flavor with a ginger kick.
2.) The Mistaken – Cynar, Hibiscus, Prosecco, Blood Orange. Similar to a Negroni, with a dark berry flavor.
The menu is packed with pizzas, pasta, seafood, meat, salad and more. There’s literally something for everyone. After trying many of the items on the menu, prepared by Chef De Cuisine Gianluca Maita, here are our picks for an ideal dinner for 2 (if you’re like us and want to eat everything in sight):
Crudo of the Day: Our catch of the day was Hamachi. They toss the fish in a red chili, mint, cilantro, pine nut, lemon juice mix and topped it with an olive oil drizzle. It was light and fresh but note – it changes daily, so there could be different batch for you.
Fried Stuffed Olives: These are green olives, stuffed with scamorza cheese, breaded and fried, then served with a side of caper aioli. Once we popped, we couldn’t stop! It’s an ample portion for 2 to split, but we still wanted more!
Anduja Sautee Mussels: I could swim in this broth! The base is made with a spreadable, spicy Italian sausage, which adds a meatier flavor to the mussels. You will want to soak the bread in this sauce and clean the plate.
Chicken and Mushroom Meatballs: I know this isn’t a classic Sicilian dish (purists should order the Classic Meatballs, which are made with ground sirloin) but it was my favorite item of the night. The meatballs are plump and juicy, and the mushroom sauce reminded me of cream of mushroom soup. I also appreciate any dish with thyme- it’s an underrated, subtle herb that I can’t get enough of. It’s a very rich dish, with three medium sized meatballs, perfect for 2 to share.
Squid Ink Linguine: This savory pasta dish had clams, squid, prawns, mussels and mixed with cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. The sauce is garlic-ey, zesty from lemon and herbal. This is my idea of a perfect comfort meal, Italian style.
Cannoli: You can’t go to a Sicilian restaurant and skip cannoli! One order comes with three different creams; vanilla, pistachio, and chocolate. Their fried pastry dough keeps crisp even when stuffed with cream, so it doesn’t lose that anticipated crunch. They’re a must!
SECRET COCKTAIL ALERT!
Sam made us the perfect coffee dessert cocktail. Meagan, who’s a coffee aficionado, notes that this is the only coffee cocktail she’s ever loved. That’s saying a lot!
HERE’S THE HITCH- it’s not currently on the menu.
So, if Sam is bartending, be sure to order a Caffettoso – Espresso, Vodka, Averna, Kailua with a Lemon zest.
As this cocktail is shaken, it creates a creamy foam that gives it a coffee shop taste. The first sip of the Caffettoso cocktail is the only time I’ve ever enjoyed citrus with coffee.It’s the perfect after-dinner cocktail, especially if you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to commit to pastry. Let’s get it on the menu! Be sure to mention you read about it on Girls on Food when you order one.
Meagan and I were beyond full after this, so we didn’t have room to try the pizzas. I kept staring with envy at the man seated next to me who had a pizza all to himself. Next time!
O + O is still a new restaurant, but the food, cocktails, atmosphere and service, lead you think they’ve been around for years. I look forward to making O + O my new go-to for comfort Italian food and watching them grow (even though they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves already!)
Photos from Ingo’s Tasty Diner have been popping up on our Instagram feed a lot lately. And I’ve been salivating over their posts. I have always been a fan of traditional American comfort food so to see their menu items and how they incorporate ingredients fresh from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, I knew I had to make a stop in there, so I popped in for their weekend brunch.
While the name Ingo’s Tasty Diner may have you thinking of a “greasy spoon”, that is so not what you’re walking into. The interior has that American diner feel, but with a modern somewhat minimalist touch. It’s kitsch but not in a cheesy way, in the way that makes me look up and think “I’d love those lights in my house.” It’s a similar feel to their sister restaurant The Misfit in Santa Monica. They’re perfectly neighbored to longtime Santa Monica favorite Vienna Pastry, which has been in business since 1957.
Top 3 Reasons To Adore Ingo’s Tasty Diner
1.) The first thing you have to know about Ingo’s is that they have a happy hour every day until 7 PM. This happy hour knocks the price on their signature cocktails down to only $6. That’s BONKERS! In the best possible way.
2.) The second factoid is that while you’re dining if you post an image of one of their cocktails on Instagram (with tag and check-in) they will bring you another cocktail on the house. I put that to the test, and it worked! So this was the boozy brunch for me! I recommend showing the server proof of the post on your IG.
3.) And for a limited time, if you tell your server you heard about Ingo’s from Girls on Food, they will bring you a complimentary Grilled Cheese Sandwich of the day (with the purchase of a meal)! So you better be sure to note that Girls on Food sent you, or you’re going to miss out! (Offer expires 6/10/16)
Foodies, their Grilled Cheese sando is off the hook! The one I had (rotates different toppings daily) was with rustic seeded sourdough bread. It had gooey, melted Wisconsin cheddar cheese and housemade strawberry preserves in the middle. Like most Americans, a grilled cheese just really reminds of my childhood, and I feel like when I take that bite, I’m a kid again! But the ingredients are elevated, so I’m like a more sophisticated version of childhood me.
The first cocktail I ordered was the Bobby Love: St. George green chile vodka, green juice, and lime. Since all the items are farm to fork, the green juice was made to order, so be prepared to wait a moment longer for this one. It’s one of the freshest cocktails I’ve ever had and that slight kick from the chile solidifies the awesomeness of this drink. Cheers!
Since I was juicing with my cocktail, I decided to have a healthy start and the Caramelized Grapefruit just spoke to me. My mom used to bake a grapefruit half in the toaster oven when I was a kid but (not offense mom) this is such an improved version. At Ingo’s, the sugar on the grapefruit is torched to that famous creme brûlée stiffness and adds a sweet smokiness to it.
My second cocktail was the One Night in Babylon: Ophir gin, cucumber, and Za’Atar. This was another light refreshing cocktail, but I wasn’t expecting the tang that the Za’Atar (a Middle Eastern herb) garnish provides.
The Crispy Chicken and Crepes on the menu caught my eye right away. I’ve noticed LA spots are stepping up their “Chicken and (insert carb here)” game, so I obviously had to give this one a whirl, and I’m blown away with this dish.
As opposed to other LA “Chicken and (insert carb here)” dishes, this one doesn’t aim to be savory. It’s a sweeter dish; it’s topped with fresh fruit and honey. But the thin crepes are pretty genius because they don’t leave you with an awful overstuffed feeling in your gut. The portion size is perfect and kudos to them for really trying something different. The fried chicken breast is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. This dish is a must-try!
I also ordered the Shakshuka, another item I’m starting to see on many LA menus. For those not familiar with Shakshuka, it’s a Middle Eastern dip dish. It is served in a hot cast iron skillet, a tomato based sauce and is baked with eggs; you consume by dipping toast and scooping out the gravy and toppings. At Ingo’s, the Shakshuka is topped with lebni (kefir cheese) and their housemade merguez (lamb sausage). It’s a savory dish; the tomatoes are plump, and the lamb is mild.
And because it was a true #SundayFunday, we had to get dessert. My boyfriend’s all-time favorite dessert is the Banana Cream Pie at The Apple Pan, so when he heard they have one here too, we had to try and compare.
Conclusion? They’re different but equally great. I prefer Ingo’s banana cream pie because I prefer a graham cracker crust over a traditional pie crust. The chocolate shavings were also a bonus for me.
There you have it. I think this is the one restaurant that hits that “comfort food” sensory in me and each item takes me back to my roots in a lovely way. With its old school vibe, farm to table freshness, American diner-inspired dishes and a happy hour till 7 pm daily; Ingo’s will be a fun one to watch gain a cult following in LA.