restaurant exterior with red walls

All Day Baby

With all-day breakfast and a mix of southern and So-Cal classics, All Day Baby fully embraces a comfort food ethos.
Editors' Picks
Dinning Area at Café Gratitude, Los Angeles, California

Café Gratitude

Foodies made the trek to the original branch of this vegan culinary spot on Larchmont Avenue for years, but now the new outpost in Venice Beach is the spot to be. The raw-vegan menu is innovative, delicious and whimsical, with such dishes as I am Humble (Indian curried lentils over brown rice or quinoa, with sautéed sweet corn, potatoes and spinach) or I am Grateful, a grain bowl of kale, quinoa and black beans which has an optional donation value to give to someone in need. The dining room is airy and bright, the atmosphere congenial and fun and the desserts and smoothies much richer and more delectable than the term raw-vegan implies.

Food at Farmshop, Angeles, California

Farmshop

“Why do these tomatoes, which are totally not in season right now taste better than any tomatoes we eat in New York in mid-summer?” my husband asked when presented with a beautiful plate of plump yellow and red heirlooms, tossed in delectable oil. The same question could be asked of nearly every plate of food that comes out of this special restaurant, part of the upscale Brentwood Country Mart.

Diners sit at rustic wooden tables on one side of the airy, bright space, while the other is taken up by a makeshift farmer’s market, with a bakery, charcuterie and butcher. It’s all a bit orchestrated (as much “farmshop” as Eataly, in New York, is Italian), but the super-seasonal menu and expertly prepared dishes are not to be mocked. Beet-cured ocean trout; grilled Burgundy snails with wild fennel; crisp pork belly with squash and Brussels sprout slaw; roasted pumpkin hummus: everything is locally sourced and simply prepared. Many of the dinner dishes are served family-style, contributing to the homey ambience. It’s also a great spot for breakfast or lunch when staying or touring in the area.

Father’s Office

Before chefs all over town started offering their own haute takes on the burger, there was the granddaddy of them all: the iconic Office Burger. On any given day in Santa Monica, you’ll see locals lining up outside or sitting in their cars along Montana waiting for the doors of a small pub called Father’s Office to open at 5 pm. By 5:15, all eleven of its square wooden tables are claimed; by 5:30, the whole place is packed. Some come for the artisanal beer (the extensive menu is divided into Malty, Hoppy, Yeasty/Spicy, and Fruity/Herbaceous), but most need their fix of the house specialty, a perfectly grilled beef patty with a dollop of melted Gruyere and Maytag Blue, a pile of fresh arugula, a little smoked bacon, and a compote of deeply caramelized onions, all served on a soft French roll. As my cousin explained to me, “It’s the best burger you will ever have in your life, and if you ask for ketchup they will throw you out.” Trust me, you won’t need the ketchup. The burger is flawless and the fries (thin, delicate, curly, with a dusting of parsley) come with an insanely addictive garlic aioli dipping sauce. Don’t expect glam surroundings—this is, after all, a burger-and-beer affair, where you place your order with the bartender. But know that you’ll be dreaming of it long afterwards. There is a new, much bigger location in LA, but it will never match the heart and soul of the Santa Monica original.

Bar at Fountain Coffee Room, Los Angeles, California

Fountain Coffee Room

The coffee shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel with its legendary banana leaf wallpaper, curvy counter and wrought-iron counter stools is a fun spot for a casual meal with kids. It opens early for breakfast, serves salads and burgers at lunch and dinner and is rightly famous for its homemade ice cream. But note that there are only 19 seats at the counter—and the counter is all there is—so it can be tough to get more than a few seats together.

Editors' Picks

Gjusta

Following in the footsteps of older siblings Gjelina and GTA (Gjelina Take Away), this bakery-cum-deli has a high cool quotient. Patrons nosh on sandwiches such as a porchetta melt and classic banh mi, and regulars know to end a meal with one of the superb baklava croissants. Milk crates double as seating, but we recommend taking your food to go for an impromptu beach picnic.

Editors' Picks
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Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre is a trendy cantina in West Hollywood serves plant-based, meatless Mexican cuisine. Read Indagare's review.
Exterior View - Joan's on Third, Los Angeles, California

Joan's on Third

Foodies go nuts for this stylish café and market. Stop here for a latte and a mini lemon bundt cake after shopping on West Third. Or grab a salad and some homemade soup and sit outside. There’s a marvelous cheese counter and all sorts of condiments and other gourmet items. Joan’s serves breakfast starting at 8 am.

Jon and Vinny's

Despite its friendly, casual vibe, this Italian eatery is far from the average neighborhood pizzeria. Named after owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (creators of LA staples Animal, Son of a Gun and Trois Mec, 716 N Highland Ave), this pint-sized restaurant serves scrumptious pastas and perfectly charred pizzas using simple but sublime ingredients. The interior is wrapped in white oak (the architect, Jeff Guga, previously worked for Frank Gehry), with artist-designed pizza boxes stacked along the walls. There’s also an on-site wine shop, Helen’s, which boasts an impeccable selection.

Note: A Brentwood location serves the same menu at a much more convenient location for travelers staying in Santa Monica or visiting The Getty.

Lamill Coffee Boutique

There’s almost no going back to Starbucks once you’ve been to this red-lacquered not-your-father’s-coffee-house. Not only are coffees brewed with your choice of Clover vacuum siphon, Eva Solo, Chemex, French press or espresso machine, but the specialty coffee (and tea) drinks are wildly imaginative and artfully presented. Coffee and a Jelly Doughnut isn’t java with a big round dunker but a beverage made with the essence of the sweet treat inside. As if the beverages weren’t attraction enough, the boutique’s menus, from classic frisée au lardon to s’mores made with lemongrass, candied kumquats and lemon marshmallows, was created by Michael Cimarusti and Adrian Vasquez, of the acclaimed Providence restaurant. The funky Silver Lake neighborhood, birthplace of much of L.A.’s modernist architecture, is a five-minute freeway drive from downtown.

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Love & Salt

Operating on the belief that food needs little more than love and salt, this Italy-by-way-of-California-restaurant is helmed by chef Michael Fiorelli, formerly of Terranea Resort, and the owners of nearby Farmstand. If the dinner crowd, digging into roasted baby cauliflower with preserved lemon, duck egg pizza and mushroom gnocchi, is any indication, this newcomer has been embraced with open arms. A well-edited selection of Italian and Californian wines round out the meal.

Osteria Mozza

For foodies—or anyone really—no trip to LA is complete without a dinner at Osteria Mozza. The team behind the popular Pizzeria Mozza (next door) followed up with a marvelous Italian restaurant that’s wildly, and deservedly, popular. The large interior has an upscale bistro ambience, centered—physically and spiritually—on the huge mozzarella bar. As you peruse the menu, banish thoughts of salad and proceed directly to the über-fresh cheeses. There are more than a dozen picks, each big enough to share, so order several. The incredibly tender and creamy burricotti, for instance, is served on two crostini and topped with roasted radicchio, crisp spiced walnuts, a drizzle of honey and fried rosemary. Or consider burrata with bacon, ricotta with hazelnuts, or bufala mozzarella with pesto. Of course, there are fabulous pastas (even a pasta tasting menu), and entrées like gnocchi with duck ragu or cedar-smoked wild salmon. Be sure to try the desserts. Osteria Mozza is the kind of place where, before the meal is even over, you are already planning your next visit. Is tomorrow too soon? Reservations several weeks in advance are absolutely essential.

Editors' Picks
Interiors at Pine & Crane, Los Angeles, California

Pine & Crane

Dig into scallion pancakes, trumpet mushrooms and dan dan noodles at this light-filled, Taiwanese café in Silver Lake. The Zen interior feels almost spa-like and the food is equally fresh and clean (much of the ingredients, like sweet potato leaves and pea shoots, come from the owner’s family farm in Bakersfield). The café’s delicate ceramics are made by a neighbor and local potter, Peter Sheldon, and are also available for sale.

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Pizzana

Candace Nelson conquered the cupcake industry when she opened Sprinkes, which became a national phenomenon of 23 stores. Her next venture is less sweet but sure to be just as successful: an elegant pizzeria in Brentwood. The chicly appointed Pizzana serves delectable pies from chef Daniele Uditi, a Naples native whose creations boast tomatoes sourced exclusively from the Neapolitan countryside and 'slow dough' that has been fermented for 48 hours. The menu includes delectable classics like margherita and cacio e pepe pizza, along with unexpected flavors like cilantro and chorizo (a nod to the chef's Mexican wife and California's love affair with such cuisine). And while there are no cupcakes on the menu, Candace brings her flare to the dessert offerings, which include salted caramel panna cotta and dark chocolate olive oil cake. Complete with a ceramic tile mural and wood-burning oven, Pizzana has an excellent beer and wine list and makes an ideal stop for those craving a great slice.

Related: Q&A with Indagare Ambassador Candace Nelson

Pizzeria Mozza

Nancy Silverton, the talent behind the bonanza of La Brea Bakery, opened this stylish gourmet pizza joint, which serves pies topped with either wild nettles or eggs, plus any combination of guanciale, radicchio and bagna cauda. Salads and desserts are solid too. It took off the minute it opened, so don’t plan on coming without a reservation unless you don’t mind standing around waiting for a seat at the too-cramped bar. Don’t miss sister restaurant Osteria Mozza, which has a more upscale menu and a mozzarella bar. On busy nights, the restaurant can be quite loud.

Interiors at Rose Café, Los Angeles, California

Rose Café

A fixture in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, this beloved Venice café emerged from a major renovation in late 2015. Its makeover updated the restaurant with a bright, design-focused interior filled with Moroccan tiles, rope accents and white oak, and introduced delicious, market-driven dishes. Still, the café retains its original rose murals and boasts outdoor seating, a beer patio, market, bakery and cocktail bar. Be sure to snag an outdoor table and order the beet hummus with crispy chickpeas, sumac, feta and mint, while enjoying the people-watching at this bustling destination.

Editors' Picks
Ice cream at Salt & Straw,  Los Angeles, California - Photo Courtesy : Leela Cyd

Salt & Straw (Larchmont Village)

This Portland import is perfectly at home in L.A.’s Larchmont Village. The beloved scoop shop maintains its ethos of sourcing from and collaborating with regional farmers and artisanal purveyors. Case in point: the shop incorporates local ingredients such as Grand Poppy liqueur from Greenbar Distillery in downtown LA, apricots from Burkart Organics and beer from Three Weavers brewery.

Food at Stella Barra Pizzeria, Los Angeles, California

Stella Barra Pizzeria

Legend has it that chef Jeff Mahin tried some 30 variations of pizza dough before settling on the chewy and crusty version (made from local red and white wheat) that’s used at this pizzeria-cum-social house. Then come the seasonal ingredients from farmers’ markets such as purple kale, Bloomsdale spinach, Blue Lake beans and fingerling potatoes. Start with the olive-oil-drizzled burrata and grilled grapes before moving on to popular pies such as the “Shaved Mushroom” with gruyère and flecks of parsley, rosemary and thyme and the “Housemade Italian Sausage.” There is an additional location in Hollywood (6372 Sunset Blvd.; 323-301-4001).

Ice Cream at Sweet Rose Creamery, Los Angeles, California - Courtesy Cida Fukushima

Sweet Rose Creamery

Simply put, sunshine and ice cream go together. Happily succumb to that universal truth at this pint-size Brentwood creamery with flavors such as peanut butter brownie, Earl Grey and blood orange soft-serve. Husband-and-wife owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan of local Santa Monica eateries Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry brought in Tartine alum Shiho Yoshikawa to helm the ice cream shop and swirl up seasonal, market-driven creamy goodness. Don’t miss Yoshikawa’s famous almond milk made with Fat Uncle Farms almonds.

Dinning Area at Tavern, Los Angeles, California

Tavern

This chic Brentwood restaurant is headed by James Beard award-winning chef Suzanne Goin and partner Caroline Styne (the duo behind AOC). Designed by Jeffrey Alan Marks in a soothing color scheme of celadon, silver, ice blue and cream, the space is gorgeous. Up front, there’s an airy café with camel-colored couches where you can linger over cappuccino and stock up on prepared foods, homemade granola and exquisite cupcakes.

The main restaurant (which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner) is divided into two rooms: a beautiful bar (a scene at night) and a glorious, light-filled atrium with soaring ceilings, big skylights, exposed brick, and leather button-back couches in place of banquettes. Goin excels at elevating homey lunch classics with superb ingredients: a BLT with heirloom tomatoes and avocado, a Niman Ranch burger with fontina, a Cobb salad with Point Reyes blue. Even the kids’ menu is well thought out, including a cornbread muffin with honey butter. This is a lovely spot for a ladies’ lunch or a leisurely breakfast.

Food from Restaurant of  Urth Caffé, Los Angeles, California

Urth Caffé

The lunchtime rush at this casual LA institution, with additional outposts in West Hollywood (8565 Melrose Ave; 310-659-0628) and Beverly Hills (267 S. Beverly Dr.; 310-205-9311), speaks for itself. Consistently delicious and fresh fare, including organic coffees and teas, grilled paninis and avocado-and-sprouts-loaded sandwiches, tostada salads and soups, all served with Urth’s signature sourdough bread, make it a great spot for a leisurely morning with newspaper or book in hand, or lunch with friends. The Santa Monica location is also a short walk to the beach.

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