Girls on Food

Venice

Belcampo Santa Monica Serves Up One Of The Meatiest Brunches In LA

Since 2015, Belcampo has supplied Santa Monica locals with classic Californian farm-to-table dishes and a local butcher shop. With a recent remodeling, Belcampo is looking fully refreshed and ready to cater to the Westside brunch crowd.

Belcampo Santa Monica
1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
https://belcampo.com/restaurant/santamonica/

Belcampo practices Regenerative Farming, meaning their approach is holistic, rejecting pesticides, artificial fertilizers and aims to enhance ecosystem services. All of the meats and eggs served are organic, grass fed, from their farm in Yreka, California, near the Shasta River. They raise their animals on their own farm, operate a USDA-inspected and Animal Welfare Approved processing facility, and sell their meat in their own restaurants and butcher shops.

The colorful bar brings instant feel good vibes when you arrive. There’s an ample selection of cocktails and creative non-alcoholic beverages too.

Looks are very deceiving with their Bloody Mary (I recommend celery infused vodka). As you can see, it’s not that canned tomato juice base, it’s actually a clarified tomato juice, giving it a thinner appearance, but it’s just as flavorful and more refreshing than a traditional BM.

The Santa Monica Egg Cream is their dreamiest, creamiest beverage. Although it’s called an egg cream, there’s actually no eggs, the foam is made with coconut cream for a rich texture. This beverage will make you feel like you’re drinking a Pina Colada and want to get caught in the rain.

The Classic Beef Tartare is a must-order item. Start by dipping grilled bread into the egg yolk custard, then top with minced beef sirloin and greens. If you’re dining solo, I recommend making this your biggest priority.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, the Pancakes, which happen to be gluten-free, will be right up your alley. Topped with a citrus jam, strawberry butter and fresh fruit, these cakes are so fluffy and are perfect to pair with any meatier dish.  

For those of you on the Keto diet, Belcampo has you covered. The Keto Breakfast Bowl packed, with bacon, 2 fried Belcampo farm eggs, kale, avocado, tomato is dressed with pistachio dressing. It’s high fat, low carb but it’s a larger bowl to keep you full.

Other fantastic items include their BLT and their Greek Yogurt. The butcher shop at the front entrance also serves up fresh bone broths for those of you looking for additional protein power.

MEDIA TASTING: Chaya Venice Gets A Glow Up

I moved to Venice in early 2013 and Chaya became my main stomping ground after waiting tables at The Firehouse across the street. Regularly, I’d sit at the bar alone and enjoy their happy hour specials after a shift. I could only afford one cocktail (a Lychee Martini) and one Spicy Shrimp roll at the time. Want proof? Check out these fun (and low-quality) shots from my personal Instagram page, here, here and here. When I was slumped over at the bar, I’d dream of dining in the actual dining room. I was mostly lured in by the white tablecloths; since I was a child, they had embodied the word “fancy.”

Fast forward to last Monday night: I don’t live in Venice anymore and haven’t made it out to Chaya in ages. I am invited in to check out the newly renovated Chaya Venice for a media tasting and dine not at the bar, but in the proper dining room with these chairs made by Hans Wegner. With Danielle, my friend and owner of my favorite LA restaurant blog, Follow My Gut, I was excited to indulge in some nostalgia and taste items outside of the happy hour menu.

Chaya Modern Izakaya
110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291
http://www.thechaya.com/

The original Chaya, a family-owned teahouse called Hikage Chaya, debuted in Kamakura, Japan in the early 1600’s. After centuries of reinventions and expansions into other locations, the Chaya group eventually opened a Venice location, under founding Chef Shigefumi Tachibe in the 90’s. Current Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino and Executive Chef Joji Inoue are now leading the show.

The appearance of this longtime Venice favorite had not been touched but it finally got its LA glow up and the addition of “Modern Izakaya” to its name. Changes include swapping the vibrant red exterior for a light Japanese bamboo fencing, long communal cedar tables in the lounge, and a more intimate main dining room (they swapped 25 seats for a new banquet room). Sadly, my beloved white tablecloth is gone.

The zhoosh up

I’m not sure if the glow up was necessary for me, since the only reason I hadn’t been in so long is due to proximity. I prefer the former 90’s Japanese-meets-French brassiere vibe, even if was a little dated. I think there’s fun in being formal, in eating like a “grown up.” I realize the rest of LA wants all their favorite spots to be “mod upscale-casual” so I suppose they could make everyone else happy with it.

Although I noticed some changes to the Happy Hour menu — doing away with some of their beloved sushi rolls, like the Spicy Shrimp and the Chef’s Choice — I am happy to report they did not get rid of the classics like the Lychee Martini and the Mac & Cheese. They’ve also added nigiri and sashimi to the bar menu, which I don’t recall from my Firehouse days.

A view from the Kaisen Bar

The bar now boasts a larger selection of liquors, including more tequilas and a more developed Japanese whiskey program. Although I’m not indulging in cocktails (I’m breastfeeding, so beer and wine is more my thing) I will note the specialty cocktail list is perfectly updated with drinks for beachy, Westside vibes and not overly trending. At the Kaisen Bar, similar to a Chef’s Counter, guests can dine on a set omakase menu, featuring the freshest sushi and oysters made right in front of them.

Amuse Bouche

The wines are mostly California-based, with a few European options, and are perfect for pairing with the new menu items. Every dinner should begin with bubbles, so that’s how I started mine. The Schlumberger Grüner Veltliner Brut is minerally, high on effervescence and the floral notes work perfect for the Amuse Bouche and Big-Makase, a five-piece nigiri selection. The Amuse Bouche of the evening (note: off menu item that changes every day) was an ample portion of a potato stuffed with mussels in a Pommery mustard sauce. If this was any indication of how the dinner would start, I knew I was in great hands.

Big-Makase and the off menu mackerel roll

Based off image above, the nigiri in the Big-Makase is intended to be eaten starting left and working your way right. Each nigiri piece had a different sauce, starting with Maguro with a savory sauce, Hamachi with a buttery, smoky soy sauce, Sake with yuzu pepper sauce, seared Shiro Maguro with a garlic ponzu and Scallop with a plum paste. Danielle and I both agreed that while all of these were great, the Shiro Maguro (aka albacore) was our favorite bite. We tasted another off-the-menu treat, a roll of cured mackerel topped with ginger and shiso leaf. Fans of the pungent shiso leaf would love this one, since there is an ample amount in the rice, so be sure to ask if they’ll make it for you.

Manila Clams

The next course was my favorite new dish of the evening. The Manila Clams are steamed in a green garlic broth and settle upon silky tofu. Be sure they bring a spoon, cause you’ll want to sip up that broth. Pair this one with the St. Urbans-Hof Black Label Nik Weis Estate Old Vines Riesling, since it’s a sweeter, fruity pour.

Chrysanthemum Salad

There is now a larger selection of salads and vegetables added to the menu. The Chrysanthemum Salad is a meatier options with chewy bits of bacon, enoki mushrooms and bacon vinaigrette. It’s not listed under the salads but the Grilled Octopus is a lighter dish that comes with a filling portion of green papaya salad. If you’re on a date, don’t fear this salad — it’s less garlicky, compared to others, so you can confidently kiss at the end of the night.

Grilled Octopus

The octopus, braised for two hours with lemon and spices, then bincho-grilled, is charred around the edges but still maintains a marshmallow softness. Although I originally thought I’d be pairing a fuller white or even a sake with these two, server Marcel recommended the Banshee Pinot Noir, which was better since it’s a lighter, riper red, a perfect in-between.

Pork Chop Katsu

The Pork Chop Katsu, served bone in, is crisp with panko on the outside but juicy on the inside. Since it’s a pork chop cut, it is quite thick and topped with a peanut-mole and Japanese mustard. I paired this with Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Syrah. It’s an intense, smoky syrah, perfect for meatier dishes.

Cherry Parfait with an Earl Grey Mochi Ice Cream

I’m not much of a dessert person but the Cherry Parfait, with mascarpone cream and light chunks of brownie was to die for. Ask Danielle, I inhaled it! The Early Grey mochi ice cream on the side was herbal, creamy and melts in your mouth. Make sure to save some of the syrah for this one, especially after it aerates even more.

The new menu is delicious, thoughtful and very modern, to match the new esthetic.

Thanks to Lawrence Moore and Associates for setting up this media tasting.

Although this dining experience was comped by Chaya Venice, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Bites by the Beach: Leona in Venice, CA


When Leona opened in the summer of 2015, I was there for their first brunch. I loved the casual, yet sleek vibe and the inventive, seasonal menu. Not to mention that adorable cookie stand? Too cute! So what’s next for one of Venice’s most-beloved spots?

Former Sous Chef Jennifer O’Neil, now Head Chef, is leading the way at Leona with a new menu and is introducing new concepts to the restaurant.

Leona
123 W. Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
http://leonavenice.com 

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Venice Art Crawl Presents Music Connects Us: Photography & Art Show on 4/20

The Venice Art Crawl (VAC) is pleased to present its 7th annual Anniversary Fundraiser event, Music Connects Us: Photography & Art Show on Thursday April 20, 2017 at the Runway at Playa Vista, 12746 W. Jefferson Blvd, Playa Vista, 90066 from 6-10PM. The event will take place at the Runway, transforming a 3,800 square foot space into an urban art installation. Over 70 local and international artists will be featured, including Miles Regis, Spaik, Plastic Jesus, Guy Webster, Balloonski, and more!

VIP tickets include a sit down dinner at the new Hal’s Bar & Grill Playa Vista. General admission tickets are also available. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.veniceartcrawl.com for the “VIP Dinner and Art Show” package for $200 and the “Art Show” alone for $40.    

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Girls on Food at 26 Beach in Venice, CA

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26 Beach Restaurant 
3100 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
http://www.26beach.com

I have waited way too long to show off my favorite Venice Beach restaurant, 26 Beach. Below are the favorite items from the video:

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The Peach Melba French Toast

The Peach Melba French Toast is hands down my favorite item on the menu. Unlike most traditional french toasts which are made with brioche, this bad boy is made with croissant. It manages to stay crisp even with covered in caramelized peaches, melba sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The Elvis
The Elvis

The Elvis is truly fit for a king! This French Toast is stuffed with Skippy’s peanut butter, blueberry jam and sliced bananas. Requires a glass of milk to wash down!

The Chef Katsu's Original California Roll Hamburger
The Chef Katsu’s Original California Roll Hamburger

I’ve had several of the burgers on 26 Beach menu, but this burger always intimidated me a little. I love burgers and I love sushi but would I love them together? This burger patty is topped with snow crab salad, avocado, sushi ginger, Boston lettuce, tomato, nori and a wasabi-shoyu-mayo.

I took one bite and I was in surf ‘n turf heaven. Lovers of a juicy, dripping burger must try this one. It’s tough to eat on camera cause it’s so huge (that’s what she said) but worth every bite.

I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to feature them here, but we love 26 Beach and can’t wait to come back and eat some more! We’re shooting a lot of video content in cities all over the U.S. so be sure to subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

A Dog Day Afternoon at The Lincoln in Venice, CA

If there’s one thing I love as much as food, it’s dogs! So when I heard that The Lincoln, a craft cocktail bar in Venice, was hosting “A Dog Day Afternoon” to benefit No-Kill LA (an initiative of the Best Friends Animal Society), I knew I had to be there!

The Lincoln
2536 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Dog-Day-Afternoon-The-Lincoln

The Lincoln is a industrial-chic bar that fits right in with Venice’s gritty and eclectic vibe. It evokes the style of a 40’s auto-shop with vintage decorative touches and repurposed materials such as barstools made from car-jacks, and glass from a Sherman tank factory. When I arrived at the brick, open-air patio with sunlight filtering through wooden beams, it was bustling with a lively mix of people and their canine companions.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Patio

I brought my dogs, Max and Oliver, along for the experience, and they were happy to mingle with some of the other pups as I perused the special drink menu for the event. I did treat them a lot on this trip, especially when it came to the food. I know a lot of people with pets do like to do that, but I think it may be time to try switching to natural dog food. This would be in their best interest in all honesty and I can always treat them once in a while!

There were even dog food reviews in the forms of pamflets as well as free samples for your dog too! I was talking to someone there and they were telling me about the fantastic new dog playpen DogProductPicker.com research on dog playpens has found that having the right playpen for a dog can reduce damage to your furniture and lawn, so I’m told. How interesting!

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Menu

Being a wine lover, I had to try the Rose Wine Flight right off the bat! For $12, the pours are generous, and it was a treat to sample the different flavors of rose from various regions.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Wine-Flight

The first, a Grenache/ Cinsault blend from the Famile Sumeire winery in Provence, France, had a bright berry flavor with hints of spice balanced with a subtle minerality.

The second glass, a Grenache/ Syrah “Funk Zone” blend from Santa Barbara was my favorite. Crisp and dry, it was a mellow wine, perfect for a Sunday afternoon; that offered flavors of honeysuckle and strawberry with notes of citrus.

The third wine was also a hit; a Chenin Noir by Domaine Brazilier of Loire, Franc. This was the most complex tasting, and it boasted a strong, almost cidery vibe, with flavors of ripe melon, lemon zest, and pepper.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Patio2

Any of these wines would have paired perfectly with seafood or a summery strawberry salad, and I may have to hunt down a bottle or two to keep at home. The Lincoln doesn’t serve food, but for this particular event they had 100% beef hot dogs available for free, and I helped myself to one only to earn jealous glances from Max and Oliver.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Hot-Dogs Dog-Day-Afternoon-Hot-Dogs2

Luckily for them, The Lincoln provided free doggy treats and fresh water for all the visiting pups to enjoy. (I can also say that the rose flight pairs quite nicely with a good, old-fashioned hot dog!)

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog-Treats

I was also tempted by the cocktails offered on the special menu, so I tried a “Bark at the Moon”, made with gin, amaretto, mandarin, lemon, and egg. This cocktail was deliciously citrusy, creamy, smooth and totally refreshing. The whipped egg whites on top offered a light and foamy touch – it was like drinking a lemon meringue pie!

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Cocktail

I would have tried more cocktails if I didn’t have to make the drive back to Pasadena, so I worked off my buzz by wandering the patio, saying hello to some of the other dogs and their owners. There’s no better ice-breaker than a dog, and I found that everyone at The Lincoln was friendly and eager to chat. I loved the neighborly vibe of this bar, and I only wish I lived closer so I could become a regular.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog5 Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog4 Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog3 Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog2 Dog-Day-Afternoon-Dog

I also made sure to visit the NKLA booth at the back of the patio. Every donation made that day was pledged to be matched by The Lincoln, so I was happy to contribute $20 to the cause, and pick up a t-shirt as well. For those that don’t know, No-Kill LA is a fantastic organization whose mission is to serve as a model for how the rest of the nation’s animal shelters can become no-kill. Since their launch in 2012, NKLA has reduced the amount of animals killed in Los Angeles shelters by 66%, thanks to a variety of programs including spay/neuter clinics, pet adoptions, and fostering. They aim to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017, which is great news for pet lovers everywhere.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-NKLA

NKLA also brought along Sabrina, a three-year-old Terrier and Pitbull mix with a goofy personality, who was up for adoption. If I didn’t already have two dogs (both of whom are rescues), I would have been tempted to bring Sabrina home with me! She was such a sweetheart, and I hope that she finds her forever home soon.

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Sabrina

Dogs are always welcome on the patio of The Lincoln, but I was glad to learn that “A Dog Day Afternoon” will likely be a monthly event where local dog-lovers can gather to support an excellent cause while enjoying delicious craft cocktails in one of Los Angeles’ hippest neighborhoods. It was well worth the trek for me, and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Dog-Day-Afternoon-Tania

Hint Hint: Hinterland in Santa Monica

HinterlandMain Street in Santa Monica is home to more than a handful of the Westside local’s favorite restaurants. A few local/family owned spots have had to close, due increasing rents on this street, which makes us sad. Now, there are a few newer spots popping up and since I’m a Girl on Food, I have to a give them a shot.

 

My mom and my niece were visiting and since my niece, Syd was hoping to see some Hollywood stars, I figured we’d try to scope out Joe Jonas at his new restaurant called Hinterland on Main Street. No luck seeing Joe, sorry, Syd.

Hinterland
2917 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
http://hinterland.la

I was very impressed by the interior design of Hinterland. It’s minimal and has a “California Coastal” feel to it. Hinterland has an open kitchen, but the noise is controlled. Chopping or dishes clanking never interrupted our night. There’s no liquor here, it’s beer and wine only. I’m okay with that, especially for seafood and other white meats. I started with a glass of sparkling rose, which was beautifully crisp and dry. It paired perfectly with all of my items.

Hinterland 1

For the appetizers, we noshed on the PEI mussels and a shishito pepper special. The mussels were drenched in a beautiful sauce. However, the shishito peppers were this table’s favorite. I love shishito peppers because they vary in spiciness. Some are mild and some can be pretty hot. These roasted peppers came with large dollop of burrata cheese, crostini and a green onion salsa. I hope they add this item to the menu it’s just marvelous.

Hinterland 2

For my entrée I had the country cut Neiman pork chop. It was perfectly grilled and it maintained its juiciness in each bite. I haven’t had this good of a pork chop since I lived in Sacramento. This dish totally took me back home.

 

 

Hinterland 3My mom ordered the grilled Scottish salmon, which came with farro and veggies. Although I only got a couple of bites, it was so good I wanted to include it too.

 

 

 

 

1506638_10153447180897642_5420279560061261984_nWe ordered the ice cream sandwiches for dessert, which Syd loved because it allowed her to get a little creative with the side of hot chocolate sauce. Everything from the food to the service here was impeccable. Can’t wait to come back!Hint ice cream

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

Sunday Funday: Brunch at Leona in Venice

NyeshaI had the pleasure of meeting executive chef Nyesha Arrington (of Top Chef and Knife Fight) at a party/tasting celebrating the opening of her new spot Leona, in Venice. The tasting was fantastic and had me salivating for the opening. When I heard it was going to be located on Washington Blvd, I was a little apprehensive about that. I’ve lived Venice over 2 years now and I can honestly say, I never make it past Abbot Kinney Blvd. If you’re on Washington Blvd and move east toward Lincoln Blvd, there is a decent amount of ethnically diverse restaurants, as well as foodie favorites, but towards the beach, there’s more of a tourist trap vibe (The Whaler, Cabo Cantina, Islands). Leona sits a lot closer to the beach than the usual food blogger havens, so I had my guard up. Especially since the beachside of Washington Blvd. can be a little overwhelming with traffic on the weekends.

Leona
123 Washington Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
310-822-5379
http://leonavenice.com

LeonaLuckily for us, Leona is a breath of fresh air for the beachside Washington Blvd scene. I hope Leona’s presence makes a big enough splash to bring in better culinary delights for this part of the block. My girlfriends and I went to the soft open for their brunch over the past weekend and it definitely met the Girls on Food standards for a solid Sunday Funday. Mimosas, great food and a laid back atmosphere. Nyesha defines Leona as “California Progressive Cuisine”, and I think that’s a perfect description for the menu. The brunch items are appropriate to the current season with a melting pot feel of flavors, Italian, Dutch and Korean are represented. I was bummed out the infamous Chicken Brick that I have read so much about online wasn’t offered during brunch. It’s becoming a signature item (according to my online stalking), so I would’ve loved to have seen it incorporated in this menu. Maybe next time?

peach mimosaMimosas are mandatory for a girlie Funday. I had their peach mimosa and I love that it was delicately peach flavored; it didn’t have that overkill-syrupy taste a lot mimosas have. One of my friends had the passion fruit mimosa, which had a beautiful magenta color and also scored points with me for not being too sweet. These were great sweet spins on a classic drink.

Latkes

We started with Korean Latkes, a Jewish potato pancake with a kick. If you’re sensitive to spices, you should dip it in the dollop of creme fraiche provided before a bite. I loved the kick personally. I also gushed over the presentation. I love the offering of herbs, fresh pepper and sea salt to sprinkle on it.

pancakes

bacon

After our savory start, we shared Brown Butter Pancakes and California Benedict. The pancakes were to die for. They have that sweet and savory flavor combination that brings this foodie down her knees. The whipped coconut cream and sea-salt vanilla butter on top melt and get soaked up by the pancake, so there’s a buttery flavor to every bite. If you really love that sweet and savory flavor, order a side of their bacon and add that on top of your pancake. It’s smoky, very thick and has the right amount of fat.

 

benedict

The California Benedict is aesthetically impressive plate and caters to coastal tastebuds. The fried soft shell crab rests on top an English muffin, with avocado and topped with poached eggs, then covered in a tomato hollandaise. I haven’t had soft shell crab added to a benedict before, so this was a unique treat for me.

I recommend all Venice locals give the brunch here a taste and I’m looking forward to coming in for dinner. There’s a variety of seating here, ranging from indoor, outdoor, wine bar and countertop. These options cater to pretty much anyone. The atmosphere is very “California”, it’s nice, but there’s no pressure to dress up. Be prepared to either ride a bike or take an Uber here. Parking can cost up to $25 and there isn’t a valet system set up there yet. This spot is still technically in a soft open, so there’s time for them to find their legs.

Click to add a blog post for Leona on Zomato

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!
WF BAR 2
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

Patties and Pies: 3 Square Cafe + Bakery’s Summer Pop-Up

The term “pop-up” doesn’t just apply to fashion. Restaurants in cities all over the world, especially in the past couple of years, have been developing their own pop-ups. Pop-ups are tough on customers because unlike a restaurant that has central locations, we can’t always get that food again. As a customer, we have to savor that food while we can. Food trucks are probably the most popular form of a pop-up I can think of, but I’m starting to see more in actual restaurants.

I finally got around to walking the Abbot Kinney First Friday in Venice, CA last week. Abbot Kinney Blvd. was deemed “the coolest block in America” by GQ magazine in 2012 and I can see why. The mile long street has a very hip, boho-chic vibe to it. Even the buildings with expensive retailers look distressed and as if they’ve been there since the 60’s. I like this look though. It’s fun.
There was an overwhelming amount of food trucks on Abbot Kinney. I suppose I could’ve stopped at one, but I didn’t want to wait in a long line only to end up eating my food on the sidewalk. I found 3 Square Cafe + Bakery and found to be aesthetically inviting right off the bat.
3 Square Cafe + Bakery 
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
I am coining their patio “the coolest people watching spot in America”, cause it has a great view of the block.
3 Square is known for their German and Californian blended Breakfast and Lunch on the weekdays and Brunch on the weekends. During the Summer they have a dinner pop-up open Wednesday – Saturday nights 4 PM – 10 PM called Patties and Pies. As you can gather from the name, it’s all about burgers and dessert pies. It all sounded amazing and after a long walk, I was ready to kick back and chow down.

 

3 Square is owned by Chef/Restaurateur Hans Rockenwagner who wrote the popular cookbooks Rockenwagner and Das Cookbook: German Cooking…California Style. Hans is well known in the LA food scene for providing pretzels and other baked good to retailers like Gelson’s and Whole Foods. He’s also credited with inventing the Rockenwagner Pretzel Burger, which has been imitated by many other restaurants. I was stoked to come in on a night he was there, cause he was able to provide me with a look at their updated Patties and Pies menu starting this week (5/3/15). Foodies, it’s  sehr gut.
Pictured: Avocado Fries
The avocado fries are a staple here. It’s literally a sliced avocado, battered and deep fried with a side of fire roasted salsa. I was amazed by this dish, because even though it’s deep fried, it has an unexpected freshness to it. I expect to see county fairs imitating this dish soon.
Pictured: Avocado Crostini
Yes Foodies, I was on an avocado kick that day. The avocado crostini is another longtime dish here. The toast is fresh baked, then grilled, topped with mashed avocado and watermelon radish. Simple, yet delectable.
Pictured: Grilled asparagus with leeks and romesco sauce
This is an interesting item to have on the menu, cause it’s inspired by Spanish tapas. The fresh asparagus is grilled and topped with leeks. The leeks are prepared in a similar style to Calcotada, the leeks are roasted, then topped with a romesco sauce. The romesco sauce at 3 Square is made with ground almonds, which adds a soft nuttiness to it. It still has that expected garlic and chilli kick to it.
Pictured: The Swiss Burger
Oh boy. Here we go. It’s a doozy to eat, but it’s so worth it. It’s a ground veal patty, topped with fried onion rings, bacon, hash browns, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, then smothered with a parsley aioli and that is all sandwiched in a biscuit bun. It’s bonkers. It’s also one of the best burgers I’ve ever had and now I’m wishing more places had veal patties. This burger separates 3 Square from all the other burgers on the Westside.
Pictured: Wild Blueberry Pie
It wouldn’t be Patties and Pies without a delicious pie to finish it off. The blueberry pie a la mode paired with a hot cup of their Stumptown Coffee brought out the Dale Cooper in me. The crust is flakey and buttery. The filling was packed with actual berries that maintained their flavor.
I can’t turn down a Twin Peaks reference.
Foodies, you have to stop into Patties and Pies this Summer before the pop-up goes away! Check out rockenwagner.com for more information.

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California Love: Wurstkuche

Los Angeles is a city crammed with junk food options- and they are all trying to one up each other with something crazy. I just relocated form Seattle to Venice and apologize for not keeping up with the GOF bloggin’ as of the past couple of weeks, but I am back with a foodie vengeance.
Wurstkuche Venice
625 Lincoln Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
http://www.wurstkuche.com
My thighs are not going to like that I live walking distance to this place. The draft beer, Koestrizter Schwarzbeir, was the perfect blend of malty and sweet and it’s only 6 dollars. Wurstkuche is known for incorporating exotic meats in their sausages, such as Rattlesnake and Rabbit, Crocodile and Pork, and Buffalo with Beef and Pork. I was feeling a little less adventurous but I decided to go with a Greek vibe. I got the Lamb with Mediterranean Spices (which was super flavorful) topped with Sweet and Spicy Peppers. I also had a side of Tzatziki to add on top, which took me back to Athens. The fries are thick cut (that’s a “small” order in the picture, FYI) they were steaming hot and I dipped them in their Blue Cheese, Walnut and Bacon dip. Everything I ate was amazing. I know there’s another location in downtown LA, but I prefer Venice’s quieter vibe.
Also, an hour after I ate here, a car crashed into the building! Close call, am I right? Since the incident they added an awesomely ironic sign out front:

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