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.
Ingo’s Tasty Diner
1213 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
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.