Girls on Food

Happy Hour

Brunch at Spear Steak & Seafood House in DTLA

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, but I never have time to eat a proper breakfast during the week because I’m too busy. I always look forward to the weekend when I can indulge in a savory or perhaps a sweet breakfast. So when I found out that Girls on Food got invited to the preview the new brunch menu at Spear Steak & Seafood House, I got pretty excited.

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Spear Steak & Seafood House
800 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
http://www.spearrestaurant.com

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Spear Steak & Seafood House is located in the heart of the Financial District in downtown Los Angeles. The restaurant has high ceilings, and the décor is modern and stylish with a beautiful open kitchen. The outdoor patio has a very inviting and relaxed vibe. It feels like a lounge ideal to hang out and catch up with your friends.

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Spear Steak & Seafood House is now offering a super delicious brunch. The portions are generous, so it is perfect to order a couple of dishes and share a meal family style with your friends. They also have bottomless mimosas at a very reasonable price, and they keep their promise I was never able to see the bottom of my glass.

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For our brunch my friend and I decided to share the Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes and as you can image they were so good. You could taste the Ricotta and blueberries, and best of all the pancakes had a perfect consistency. They came with Berkshire maple syrup and a fruit salad.

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We also had the Crab Benedict. This was not your average Benedict, it came with poached eggs, a lovely hollandaise sauce and jumbo crab cakes. The crab cakes which are made with real fresh crab meat were perfection. The Benedicts came with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes.

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I enjoyed the brunch at Spear Steak & Seafood House, and I would gladly come back for brunch or dinner to continue exploring the menu. The servers were super friendly as well and next time I come back, I will sit on the patio to enjoy the DTLA view.

Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas, TX

I may be “living the dream” in Los Angeles, but I’m a Texan at heart and when I visited the greatest state in the union this spring, I knew I was going to have to check out some local beer. A week before my trip I heard a interview with the head brewer of Deep Ellum Brewing Company on The Business of Beer Podcast and immediately added them to my list of places to visit while I was in Dallas.IMG_0723

 

Deep Ellum Brewing Company
2823 St Louis Street, Dallas, TX 75226
http://www.deepellumbrewing.com

Maybe it’s just because I was out of the beer scene when I lived in Texas, but my memory of beer was pretty much Bud and Coors- Lone Star or Shiner were for when you were feeling fancy. But the craft beer scene in Dallas has absolutely exploded, and they are turning out some amazing beers. Deep Ellum Brewing is definitely leading the pack, with a commitment to quality beer and a great beer community. They are located in the heart of Deep Ellum, right on a strip full of great bars and restaurants. It’s an ideal spot to stop in for a few pints after dinner.

IMG_0720The tasting room itself has a great atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating. They’ve done a great job of embracing the industrial feel of the area, but making it a really interesting and dynamic space. For those of you from out of the state- be aware that Texas has strict ABC laws, which caught me off guard. Six packs of beer are only for on premise consumption and they don’t do tasting flights at certain times. But it is 100% worth your time to come by and grab a few pints.

IMG_0719I was head over heels in love with the Dreamcrusher Double IPA. Coming from the west coast, I’m used to super hoppy IPAs, and I’ve had a million of them. So finding a fantastic IPA brewed in Texas was a such an unexpected surprise. The also have a brown ale brewed with coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, which filled me with nostalgia since I worked in that neighborhood for several summers in college. I was also a huge fan of both the Rye Pilsner and the Praline Porter. The rye gave a nice kick to the pilsner, which was crisp and refreshing. The Praline Porter was basically everything I wish for in a porter- robust, but with a wonderful malty sweetness. That was only a smattering of what I got to try though- they have a really solid list of year round beers plus some wonderful specialty and seasonal beers. Being a Dallas native, it was wonderful seeing such a great brewery innovating and making such great beer. If you are ever in the Big D, make sure you give these guys a visit.

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Santa Monica’s New Classic: Ingo’s Tasty Diner

ingos signPhotos 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
http://ingostastydiner.com

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Fun fact, this is Historical Landmark for Santa Monica, dating back to 1946

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 

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One Night in Babylon

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) 

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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.

ingos bobbyThe 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.

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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.

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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!

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ingos shak 2I 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.

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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.

To see a video of my brunch experience at Ingo’s Tasty Diner, go here and SUBSCRIBE!

Ingo's Tasty Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

#TapasTuesday: Under Current in Salt Lake City

There is a time after lunch and before dinner that I like to call the golden hour. In this time, I allow myself to have a small meal before dinner. In Spain they call it tapas, in the U.S we say appetizers, and in doctors offices, they call it making your way to diabetes. However, there is nothing I love more than having a small refreshing “snack” on days where I know I’ll be having a late dinner. Luckily Under Current has exactly what I need with a short food menu and a very long, very well planned drink menu.

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Taco Tuesday at Joyride Taco House in Gilbert, Arizona

I have lived in Arizona my entire life; born and raised. Which, I would consider pretty lucky. With thousands of authentic and delicious Mexican style restaurants around, it is pretty easy to always find a place to try something new. Enter, Joyride Taco House.

Joyride Taco House LogoJoyride is a part of one of my all time favorite companies in the valley; Upward Projects. Upward Projects are all about creating inspired restaurants that are connected to the communities they serve. Upward Projects began 11 years and has since grown into something many Zonies still get excited about when they announce a new location or restaurant.

Joyride Taco House (two locations)
302 North Gilbert Road
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
http://www.joyridetacohouse.com

Joyride Taco House, set in the ever growing and vibrant downtown Gilbert, Arizona, has an insane atmosphere. The good reviews, the location, and of course, the delicious food draws you in. It is the music, the employees and the house made cocktails that make you want to stay.

Joyride Taco House mealBoth locations of Joyride Taco House (Gilbert and Phoenix) have some really great deals on Tuesday nights. From 2:00 PM to close you can get $2 tacos such as braised beef, chicken tinga, crispy fish and more.  The chicken tinga taco is one of my favorites. It includes avocado, cabbage, cilantro and white magic. White magic is essentially just a house lime aioli sauce, but it sure is delicious. The Tuesday night specials also include great deals on their house made margaritas or pitchers of your favorite Mexican beer for $5. One of my favorite margaritas that they offer on special is their blood orange margarita. It is a blend of tequila, triple sec, house blood orange sour and hibiscus syrup. To make things even better about Joyride Taco House, from 2 to 6 p.m you can double up on deals by taking advantage of the their weekday happy hour. Those specials include $4 quesadilla or $6 ceviche. But you don’t have to stop at what is on special that night. Why not splurge on some of their other delicious items including burritos, enchiladas or one of their agua frescas, which are made fresh daily. You can order pineapple, ,cucumber mint or almond horchata; virgin or spiked. And the best part? You get to decide what type of booze you want to add. You can choose from tequila, vodka, rum, gin, amaretto or frangelico.  I would highly recommend the pineapple with tequila. It is absolutely delicious.

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I am telling you guys, they know what they’re doing. So when you get a chance to visit Arizona, make sure you hit up Joyride Taco House. I would recommend visiting the Phoenix location over the Gilbert location. Phoenix doesn’t seem to have quite as long of a wait time as the Gilbert location does. Either one you chose, you are sure to enjoy!

We also recommend you check out our friends at the Village Bakery for more cooking tips and recipes.
Joyride Taco House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Poubelle and Other Spots on Franklin Ave in LA

I had a blast being an improv student at UCB.

The infamous UCB
The infamous UCB

Although I trained at UCB’s new Sunset Blvd location, students are required to see performances at their original location in Franklin Village, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. This is the original UCB location, where the magic happened. Franklin Ave has a cute strip with shopping and food. I finally had an afternoon to explore this area in depth and had a blast doing so. I started with happy hour specials at La Poubelle.

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La Poubelle
5907 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-465-0807
http://lapoubellebistro.com

I love the Parisian bistro atmosphere at La Poubelle. I have been here for dinner and although it’s very good, I wanted to show off their Happy Hour. All food and drinks on the Happy Hour list are under $8, with a bottle of Rose as the exception (even that is only $16). This is such a steal for Los Angeles, so my girlfriend and I had ourselves a feast.

Swingset Cocktail
Swingset Cocktail

I had the Swingset Cocktail, which is made with champagne, strawberry and rhubarb shrub and has Pop Rocks in it! I felt like I was a little girl again when I heard it crackle, you can watch the video here: La Poubelle. This cocktail is fizzy, fun and only $6 on Happy Hour. My friend ordered the Ancho Daiquiri, which is ancho chile liquor, lime juice and cilantro syrup, also only $6. It’s a little odd to have a Daiquiri without rum but it does have a nice kick from the chile liquor.

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Ancho Daquiri
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Bruschetta

We started with the Bruschetta, which was $5. It seemed a little small, even for a happy hour portion, but it was tasty. The tomatos were very fresh and it’s tough to go wrong with burrata cheese on anything.

Warm Chicken Confit
Warm Chicken Confit

For only $6, this is a pretty great plate. The crispy chicken sits on ciabatta and is topped with yummy pickled onions. It sounds simple but it’s very good and perfect to share.

Mac & Cheese Gratinee
Mac & Cheese Gratinee

This is the most decedent dish we ordered. Their mac & cheese is made with comte, mozzarella and a béchamel sauce. This was also $6 and stuffed us up. It’s so rich and creamy. We couldn’t possibly order more after, but we did have another round of their fantastic cocktails.

This is such a great spot to eat at before a show at UCB. Here are some other spots on Franklin Ave worth checking out.

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The Oaks Gourmet

  The Oaks Gourmet
1915 N. Bronson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90068
323-871-8894
http://theoaksgourmet.com

Around the corner from La Poubelle is The Oaks Gourmet, a quaint speciality food shop specializing in what I call “picnic food”: Meats, cheeses, beer and wine. There is also a fantastic selection in mixers, olives, chocolates and pasta supplies. There is a coffee bar and they serve sandwiches out of their deli. This is a great spot to grab a sandwich before a show at UCB if you’re in a rush and don’t have the time for table service.

The Daily Planet
The Daily Planet

The Daily Planet
5913 1/2 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-957-0061
http://thedailyplanetbookstore.com

The magazine selection at the book store is amazing. You can find the usuals but they also feature a lot of foreign fashion, news and cooking magazines. I could gaze through their selection all day long. They also sell fashion books, fun stationary and candles. This is a great place to get your gifts.

Counterpoint Records and Books
Counterpoint Records and Books

Counterpoint Records and Books
5911 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-957-7965
http://counterpointrecordsandbooks.com

This used bookstore has a heaping selection of cookbooks. I found so many classics and a few newer ones at low prices. They also have a wide variety in vinyl records. Plus, if you’re a geek for VHS, this is a great spot to load up. I found copies of “Cry-Baby”, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Harold and Maude”.

There’s also a coffee shop, sushi spot and women’s boutique in this strip. The parking is always a little tough at night, best to valet at that time.  So, there’s a lot to do before and after a show at UCB. You really could make a day out of Franklin Ave.

La Poubelle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rice to Meet You!: Sushi Song in Deerfield Beach

Meeting friends for sushi is brutal if you suffer from a shellfish allergy. However, I did not let my friends all the fun with their fancy rolls. I scored two scoops of heavenly Deerfield Beach Mud next door at Kilwin’s Ice Cream before they got there. The name of this flavor may sound a little unappetizing, but this sweet treat was exactly what I needed before heading to Sushi Song. A little ice cream before dinner has never hurt anyone, right?

Sweet before savory.
Sweet before savory.

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Sushi Song

123 NE 20th Ave.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

954.481.3883

http://www.sushisong222.com

This tucked-away restaurant is native to South Florida and offers three locations throughout the area. I happen to live right by this one in Deerfield Beach, FL. It is perfect for happy hour or even a date night and I have been here for both.

I met a group of friends here after work a few days ago and thought it would be great to spotlight the place. We were just in time for happy hour. Of course, sake is a house staple and while it’s not my cup of tea, they do have a fun selection for those who are into it.

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I started with my absolute favorite plum wine, Choya from Japan. Usually, I shy away from the sweeter, dessert style wines but I have a weakness for this one. When the waitress brought out the glass, I got a little surprise in my drink in the form of a small ume fruit. It is the attention to detail and little touches like this that make Sushi Song stand out among the sushi places in the area.

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Enough about the drinks. Let’s talk food! Because I cannot order much in the way of sushi, I was grateful to my friends who ordered some amazing rolls and allowed me to take a pictures before they dug in. Let’s face it – while my spicy tuna and California rolls were super tasty, they are not very exciting to talk about.

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I did want to capture this combination plate in full, which included the Dragon Roll, a shrimp tempura roll with cucumber, topped with avocado and completed with a drizzle of unagi (eel) sauce.

 

If there was one roll I was insanely jealous I could not eat, this was it. The Maine Lobster Volcano looked absolutely amazing. It features baked Maine lobster, set atop of a shrimp, cucumber and avocado roll, glazed with unagi sauce.

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Here’s another variation of Maine Lobster Volcano that the chef made special for another one of my friends. This one has barbecue unagi as well as lobster.

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This roll is Sushi Song’s Dancing Eel. This takes the California roll and turns it on its head by topping with barbecued unagi and unagi sauce. My friend thought she’d just eat one roll, but it was so good she ordered another.

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All of that unagi sauce action made my simple spicy tuna and California rolls seem not as fun. But, even my simpler rolls were delicious. If you are ever in the South Florida area, drop by one of Sushi Song’s three locations and tell them Girls on Food contributor Mo sent you!

GOF Sneak Peek: Whole Foods Playa Vista

Whole Foods’ new Playa Vista location officially opens Wednesday, 6/17, but, GOF got the inside scoop a little sooner than the locals. Below is a tour through photos of the new digs.

It may have been gloomy outside but the staff was full of pep!
It may have been gloomy outside but the staff was full of pep!

 

 

Whole Foods

12746 W. Jefferson Blvd

Playa Vista, CA 90066

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/playavista 

Yes, I will.
Yes, I will.
Inside the new location
Inside the new location, it will be packed with produce come Wednesday.

This location is huge, it’s 35,000 square feet huge. This location isn’t limited to just groceries, if anything, it’s like a health emporium. There is a 5 level parking structure with plenty of spaces, free wi-fi and iPhone app Instacart provides home delivery service to locals. The use of natural lighting makes this location easy on the eyes. The panels and coloring used on the walls make it feel fun and sunny- just like Playa Vista. They nailed representing the location very well. I love that the art panels are made with repurposed materials. WF can’t resist a chance to recycle.

Bulk goods- one of the best money savers at Whole Foods
Bulk goods- one of the best money savers at Whole Foods
Can you ever go wrong with lots of cheese? I think not.
Can you ever go wrong with lots of cheese? I think not.
The Breakfast buffet- a Whole Foods staple.
The Breakfast buffet- a Whole Foods staple.

We all know and love WF for their efforts in creating over 420 stores that sell natural and environmentally conscious items. Now, we can know and love WF for their restaurants. You heard me right, this location has a restaurant and bar. In addition to a beer and wine license, they got liquor license. This is a first for WF and I hope starts a trend. The Astro Pub is where it all happens.

Where the magic happens
Where the magic happens.
The bar, when you see it, it'll be packed.
The Astro Pub bar. Next time you see it, it’ll be packed.

I cannot wait to invite my girlfriends for a happy hour drink (or two!) and a grocery shopping session. The art-deco themed Astro Pub has a countertop bar, table service, indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has a wide variety of treats including apps, pizzas, cast-iron skillet dishes, pub fare, seafood and sushi. Even the pickiest eater can finding something yummy on the menu.

Love the kitsch seating!
Love the kitsch seating!
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A Michelada popsicle cocktail? Win. Perfect for upcoming LA heatwaves.
Cooling off with a cocktail.
Cooling off with a cocktail.

Besides the Astro Pub, this location offers some other unique treats. There well-known breakfast buffet features a savory oatmeal station. Brown sugar and raisins are so last year. This station features 3 unique oatmeals: Mediterranean (eggplant, feta cheese, kalamata olives), Thyme and Shallot (thyme, shallot, mushrooms) and my personal favorite, Chicken Curry (chicken, curry, bell peppers).

Savory Oatmeal Bar.
Savory Oatmeal Bar.
My favorite, the Chicken Curry Oatmeal.
My favorite, the Chicken Curry Oatmeal.

 

Playa Vista in "healthy" font.
Playa Vista in “healthy” font.

The juice bar offers fresh made juices and smoothies. They are also going to start making ice cream sandwiches (inner child is rejoicing!). It also features a Sambazon Acai machine, which disperses the antioxidant rich acai like frozen yogurt. That’s healthy and great… but I really want that ice cream sandwich!

Acai bowl topped with granola, berries and bananas.
Acai bowl topped with granola, berries and bananas.
Beer aisle.
Beer aisle.

The 36 foot long beer aisle feels like it never ends. It’s beautiful. It just keeps going.

The cider collection.
The cider collection.

I learned on this tour that it takes a lot for hard cider to be sold at a WF. Many well-known ciders are rejected from WF for having too much high fructose corn syrup. Even with those rejections, there are still plenty of options here. Gluten-free friends, you have a new emporium.

The Poke bar. Mike is too cute to not feature...
The Poke bar. Mike is too cute to not feature…
Poke bar close-up.
Poke bar close-up.

I wish all WFs had a poke bar! Staff member Mike was also very educated on the product knowledge and created a fantastic mango sauce for us to sample the poke with.

Bulk up!
Bulk up!

There is also a Bulk Protein bulk station (see what I did there?). This is great for those who don’t want to commit to a huge plastic tub and want more variety.

My new favorite pastry- Filled Kouignettes
My new favorite pastry: Raspberry filled Kouignettes

Move over Cro-nuts. Kouignettes are taking over. These were amazing. They’re like if a  croissant and a cake made a baby, then stuffed the baby with raspberry filling and baked it. When it’s baked, the sugar gets crispy (similar to creme brûlée topping) at the bottom. You have to try one!

Getting my Kouignette on.
Getting my Kouignette on.
Draft kombuca and coffee
Draft kombuca and coffee

Their already fabulous organic and fair-trade Allegro coffee/espresso bar got some new features. First, is their draft Stumptown Coldbrew Nitro and the Allegro Draft. These coffees are frothy and have a sweeter finish. Second is the draft kombucha, from local supplier, Conscious Kombucha. The healthy hippies of LA, and those with sensitive stomachs, are going to love this. These draft beverages will make the Starbucks mermaid logo across the street glare in jealousy.

There were a couple of aisles that weren’t quite ready for us to snap a picture of, that you should know about. There will be a large selection of Paleo Diet friendly meals in the produce section. The bakery will be packed with desserts, including their tasty macaroons. The meat display also wasn’t ready, but I heard there is going to be a blueberry smoked bacon, which I cannot wait to try.

Whole Foods Playa Vista will be a game-changer in LA. I hope it’s a game changer for grocery stores all over the USA. You have to stop in and see it. It’s like Disneyland for foodies.

Are you keeping up with the Girls on Food on Instagram? Follow us at @girlsonfoodblog to see some salivating images that don’t always make the site! #foodporn

Whole Foods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

#TankedTuesdays: The Anchor

I have to give a shout-out to The Anchor in Venice, it’s been consistently great. I used the Cover app a while back to find The Anchor, which is still somewhat new to the Main Street scene in Venice.

Please note: Always check in with theanchorvenice.com to see the most current Happy Hour menu and promotions.

The Anchor 

235 Main St

Venice, CA 90291

(310) 664-9696

theanchorvenice.com

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The Anchor’s exterior

 

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A bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc – 50% off on #TankedTuesdays

I was so lucky to come in on a Tuesday night at 5:50 PM. I landed just in time get happy hour items ordered and I got their promotion #TankedTuesdays where bottles of wine are half off at 6 PM. Perfect timing.

Daily Oysters
Daily Oysters

I loved the port vibe this restaurant has. It also helps that there was a perfect amount of sea breeze that kicked in right as I sat down. I was stoked to see all the draft beers were only $5, so I chose the St. Archer White Ale, which went with my oceanic treats perfectly. The daily oysters were Kumamoto, which came with a side of grapefruit vinaigrette, grapefruit lemons and horseradish. These oysters were fresh shucked, a little sweet and juicy in texture.

Mussels with Green Curry and Chinese Sausage
Mussels with Green Curry and Chinese Sausage

Seriously Foodies, the New Zealand mussels are so plump and juicy and they soak up the green curry sauce so well. There’s also a sweet Chinese sausage and tons of cilantro. The green curry sauce/broth is what really made it for me. It’s just amazing. This is the best mussel dish in Venice for sure. Be sure to order a side of bread to soak it all up.

Charcuterie Plate with Cheese Plate
Charcuterie Plate with Cheese Plate

 

The Happy Hour plates are $5 each. You can choose either Charcuterie or Cheese, I decided on both. If I see Truffle Tremor cheese on the menu, I have to order it. I discovered this cheese on my trip to Leavenworth, WA and I’ve been a fan ever since. I paired it with their Bresaola, which is an air-dried, salted beef. I pictured the truffle going better with duck or pork, but the server assured be it’d be great. He was totally right. I also topped the crostini with the cheese, bresaola and their berry compote. The flavors together were salty, creamy and tart. I also loved topping the crostini with the compote and jalapeños.

The Anchor Lobster Roll
The Anchor Lobster Roll

I was so glad to see their lobster roll is a little bigger than the ones I’ve eaten in the past. The bun is toasted soft, lightly buttered, then topped with lobster and shaved black truffle. It also has hints of truffle salt in the mix of the lobster. The lobster was fresh, has that traditional delicate texture and was a little bit sweet.

The Anchor is known for having a fantastic brunch, which I can’t wait to taste. I have heard that the chicken and waffles are bafflingly good so I will be back to review that. If you check out their website, theanchorvenice.com, there are a lot of promotions.

Anchor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

VinoTapa in NYC

I found this gem before an exciting evening of competitive skeeball.  Located in Murray Hill, it’s a stylish pleasant discovery.

 

VinoTapa
201 East 31st Street
New York, NY
10016
(212) 725-8466
I was there during their happy hour which had an amazing selection of cheaply priced drinks.  Note, they have happy hour daily which some restaurants opt to not do on the weekend.  Always a winning choice.

Daily from 5pm-8pm this is sure to make anyone happy

My friends had the sangria and I opted for the standard red wine which was a nice rich flavor.  Normally, during happy hour you’re handed a disgusting house wine and this wasn’t the case.  They have a great outdoor seating area which is spaced out so I didn’t feel like I was a centimeter away from the next diner.  The waitress was pleasant and didn’t hover.  On a beautiful day it was a little piece of heaven.

We shared some marinated olives and brussel sprouts.  The brussel sprouts were marinated in honey and mustard which was a sup rising combination which I might have to make at home.

Tapa’s, flatbread, and wine oh my!

My friend ordered the flatbread with dates, honey, and mozzarella.  Blending the savory and sweet it looked delightful.  She gave it rave reviews all around.

Flatbread with dates, honey, and mozzarella
Brussels you won’t be forced to eat
I highly recommend stopping by this off the beaten path wine bar.  If it’s a gorgeous day out-side and you’re hankering for a chat sesh with the ladies or even going on a date this is a perfect spot.  Just make sure to get there before 6pm when all of the seats are taken.

VinoTapa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Drinking My Way Through Portland…

I finally made it to Portland! Once my bucket list for this culinary mecca became too ridiculous to ignore I called my sister and the next thing I know we’re sipping champagne waiting for our flight. Armed with an extensive list of places to enjoy thirty exquisite meals should we please on our three-day jaunt, we were prepared to eat well. (And, we did.) It was the cocktails that took us by surprise.
Of course they were great, but it was the sheer abundance that blew us away. There is a vegan, gluten-free bakery with a cocktail menu. Let that sink in for a second because it took us a beat to fully grasp it when we wandered in… A VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY WITH A BAR. Half the restaurants in Sacramento are only licensed for beer and wine! Impressive Portland.Below is a collection of my favorite sips in a city I can’t wait to taste again… 

The Last Word
Aviation Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, Lime Juice
@ Brasserie Montmartre
This is a prohibition-era cocktail, usually made with green chartreuse, and it’s fantastic. It’s not for everyone though. (My sister hated it.) If you’re not a gin fan, this is not the drink that will win you over. It is herbaceous. And strong. But still a little sweet and very interesting. Bronx Cocktail, you’ve now been demoted to number two on my list.
New Horizons
Bulleit, Canton Ginger, Cucumber, Fresh Citrus,  Ginger
@ Departure
In general, I’m not big on bourbon. I tend to like it better in dessert than a glass but cucumber and ginger can be pretty convincing. This one is incredibly refreshing and the best part: it’s served on a rooftop patio with an incredible view of the city, alongside killer happy hour bites.
Bottle Rocket
Gin, Lime, Apricot Liqueur, Soda, Lime Peel
@ Clyde Common
Attention fellow Gin & Tonic fans: Immediately stock your home bar with apricot liqueur and make the switch. That is all.
Bitter Spring
Aperol, Lillet, Grapefruit, Celery Bitters, Sparkling Wine, Orange Twist
@ Olympic Provisions
If you love mimosas, stay away from this. It will ruin them for you. Aperol, Lillet, Grapefruit Juice? Yes. Celery Bitters?? YES!
I can’t move on without mentioning two things: 1) Brunch here was simple and legendary. I had the sudden urge to move here with every bite. 2) The other drink in the picture is a tequila cocktail, that my sister ordered for breakfast. I was proud.
Tom Kat Sour
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Aperol, KASK Ginger Syrup, Lemon, Mint
@ KASK
This is a terrible photo but I had to include it in the list because it was taken at the best bar in Portland! Granted, I’ve only tried three days worth of bars there but I’m near positive this would be confirmed by locals.
Water Lily 
Aviation Gin, Cointreau, Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette, Lemon Juice
@ Petunia’s Pies & Pastries
And now we’ve arrived at the infamous vegan, gluten-free establishment with a full line of dessert cocktails… This one is definitely dessert, very sweet. Normally this wouldn’t be my cup of tea but just look how cute it is! The bakery is adorable too, don’t let the vegan part deter you.
Passionfruit Berliner Weisse in Coconut Water Sorbet
a ribbon of marmalade made from passionfruit and
Breakside Brewery’s “Passionfruit Berliner Weisse,” in a coconut water sorbet

@ Salt & Straw
Since this blog is technically about food I feel the need to include at least one thing you can nosh on. Of course, in true Portland style even the ice cream celebrates the hard stuff…
This was one of SIX beer-infused flavors! We stood in a line that ran down the block, sweating, doubting it would be as good as everyone says but, like you may have guessed, we were wrong. And in case you’re thinking I got lucky with the one flavor I ordered, I should admit that I sampled eight others in line. (Don’t judge.) They were all amazing and obviously this place knows how to churn out a profit by the look of the lines but the most impressive thing to me was to see a love for beer so strong on both sides of the counter that over a third of the menu was dedicated to it. You’ve got your priorities in line Portland. I like your style.

Yuppie Moonshine Diary: Chapter 2 (The Chocolate Experiments)

Three more concoctions were sealed up in jars yesterday. Some girls have a closet full of shoes, some have a closet full of booze…

My first recipe called for a whole coconut. I had never cracked a coconut before. This did not go well. I’m positive this is NOT how it should look when you “tap it with a hammer along the equator and pry it apart with your hands.” (Sounds simple, right?) This is the result of whacking away at it with a hammer (both sides of the hammer!) like a mad woman and then struggling to pry it open further and failing. I don’t even want to admit the amount of time it took me to get this little coconut into pieces in a jar. (Hour and a half, maybe two. Yikes!)

CHOCOLATE COCONUT LIQUEUR

750 mL vodka
1 whole coconut
1 cup cacao nibs

The inspiration for this one is Zico’s Dark Chocolate Coconut Water. I crave that stuff day and night, it’s a little ridiculous.

The plan for this is to let it steep for 8 days. Then, I’ll make a simple syrup with vanilla and add it to taste. Excited for this one!

CHOCOLATE CHAI LIQUEUR 

750 mL vodka
6 tbspn chai tea
1 cup cacao nibs
2 cinnamon sticks

I realized I made a mistake right after I poured the vodka into this jar. Tea isn’t supposed to steep for very long but the cinnamon and cocoa nibs need more time. So, after a day I strained the mixture through a coffee filter and added new cinnamon and nibs.

In a week I’m going to split it up and try a few different creme liqueur versions – testing out heavy cream/milk with simple syrup, sweetened condensed milk and dulce de leche to see which works best.

CHOCOLATE JALAPENO TEQUILA 

375 mL silver tequila
2/3 cup cacao nibs
1 jalapeno

This one gets a lot of funny faces. It’s admittedly a little strange but I have high hopes for it. I got the idea when I discovered Tanteo’s “Cocoa” tequila. I’ve never tried it but it gave me hope that it could be great! They also have a “Jalapeno” flavor… so I added that too. I may have gone too far with that part. We’ll see. If all goes as planned this will make a legendary Mexican Coffee Cocktail.

With these, I now have five spirits in the holding chamber (my closet). A little more time, some final tweaks and I’ll deliver the (hopefully good) results along with some fantastic food and drink recipes for them!