I have a major love affair with the entire state of California. The relaxed, beachy atmosphere just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I am not exactly a winter person and I dream of the day I can move to LA. That being said, it has been quite a number of years since my recent visit to the West Coast. Also, Jonty had never been, so we decided to take a little vacay. I counted down the days until we left and savoured every moment. With every vacation comes my excitement for food. This trip was no different, as we did plenty of eating.
Right after booking our flight, we knew the first stop would be In N’ Out Burger. I have had it years ago but Jonty had never been so lucky. I was salivating the entire flight just thinking about what was to come in a number of hours. As planned, right from the airport we made our first of many stops at this famous burger joint. I ordered a cheeseburger, while Jonty got a double, with a side of animal fries (topped with their special “spread”, cheese, and fried onions). OH MAN was it delicious!! We inhaled it so quickly and realized that nothing quite compares to an In N’ Out Burger. It just doesn’t.
The next morning we decided to take a stroll in downtown Manhattan Beach, which is the little beach town we stayed in. Many LA food guides and bloggers that I follow suggested a trendy restaurant called Manhattan Beach Post for brunch, lunch or dinner. We decided to try it out for brunch and was not disappointed. The corned beef hash with egg on top and the caramelized apple french toast with walnuts were incredible. However, the only downside was that the portions were quite small and the prices were a little high. Since we were on vacation and like to try tons of different restaurants, we refrained from ordering more and figured we would eat somewhere else to fill our hunger that remained. While exploring the area, we came across a fast food type restaurant called lemonade. As soon as we walked in, we fell in LOVE. It is a counter/cafeteria style and has plenty of healthy options such as kale salad, cabbage salad, quinoa, among many others. There are also sandwiches, prepared meats, soups, and desserts. The best part of it all is the various flavours of lemonade. Our favourite was the blueberry mint and watermelon rosemary. We also ordered a plate of different salads which was a nice healthy addition to our brunch.
After a little walking, we felt that it was time for a donut. Now not just any ordinary Dunkin Donut. It is all about Randy’s donuts. You may recognize it from various TV shows or movies. It’s that big donut on top of a building, known as Randy’s Donuts. I have been here as a child, but barely remembered what the donuts tasted like, but I knew they were good based on the amount my parents/everyone who’s been to LA talk about them. We pulled up to this tiny walk-thru and drive-thru window and the smell in the air was pure bliss. As per usual, there was quite the line-up. The donuts are not crazy, unique flavours. They are simple and classic. The best two in my opinion are the plain glazed and the chocolate glazed. On top of those two we got a cinnamon streusel cake donut and a jelly donut for Jonty (I’m not a fan). We immediately ate all 4 donuts before reaching the car. The taste is almost impossible to describe. You just have to try one. They taste so light, not overly sweet, and exactly how a donut should taste. Let’s just say we visited Randy’s four times during our stay and even brought a dozen home to Toronto for our families.
That night we met up with some cousins of mine who live in LA and they took us to Umami Burger, which I have only heard good things about. We enjoyed the truffle burger which was topped with house-made truffle cheese and drizzled with truffle glaze. The burger was incredibly tasty and moist. The fries were also my favourite type of fry, thin and crispy. Along with plain fries, we ordered truffle fries which were topped with some sort of truffle infused sauce.
Our next meal happened as a coincidence. A while back, Jonty and I saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives where they went to a restaurant called The Boiling Shrimp, which serves shrimp in a plastic bag. We made it our mission to try it one day. As we were driving through Hollywood, we randomly thought of going there but didn’t know where it was located. We pulled over and was about to look it up on our phone, when all of a sudden I turned my head to the left and we were literally right beside it. If that’s not faith then I don’t know what is. The shrimp come steaming hot in a plastic bag with whichever spices you want. We got a mix of a whole bunch, with a side of the Cajun fries. The shrimp were so succulent and tasty. We are thrilled to cross that off our food bucket list!
The weather in LA started off a little gloomy, so we figured heading to the desert would be just what we needed after our long Toronto winter. The entire drive to Palm Springs was cloudy, and I was starting to get angry!! I was convinced that I was bringing horrible weather with me wherever I went. That was until we literally entered Palm Springs. It was quite surreal actually. We drove from pure grey clouds straight into BLUE SKIES!! It truly felt euphoric, and was the perfect pick-me-up. We spent the afternoon by the pool, with a break for lunch at the one and only, In-N-Out once again.
For dinner we walked up and down the main street until we found a nice, busy restaurant with a patio called Lulu, so we got a table. The food was alright, but the only dish worth mentioning was the tuna tower which was tuna sashimi layered with avocado with a soy ginger sauce. It tasted extremely fresh and the sauce added a nice sweetness to the dish.
After doing some research for a brunch/breakfast spot, I came across Cheeky’s which was close to our hotel. I could tell it was going to be a great start to the morning just by how busy this place was. We waited about 20 minutes and then got seated on the wonderful outdoor patio. As if it mattered at this point, I tried to be a little healthy by ordering the kale acai icee which was just kale, acai berries and ice blended. Jonty chose freshly squeezed blood orange juice. As for the food, we shared a few dishes which were, truffle tater tots, salted caramel waffles with apple chips, and a herb rolled omelette with a croissant and side of mixed greens. Each dish was better than the next, I didn’t know where to bite first. We thoroughly enjoyed this breakfast and I kept mentioning all day/trip how much I loved Cheeky’s.
We headed back to LA and went for dinner with my uncle who lives there. We couldn’t decide on a place, so he suggested we go to a few different restaurants and just have something small at each. Jonty had some obsession with trying Chick-fil-A, so we started our food tour by sharing a fried chicken sandwich with waffle fries. It was a yummy start for our taste buds. Next we headed to the famous Philippe the Original which is known for their french dip sandwiches. Jonty and I shared a double dipped beef dip which was incredibly moist from the au-jus on a soft, white bun with a side of creamy pasta salad. This was by far the best beef dip sandwich I have ever had. It literally melted in my mouth.
Our next stop was Bottega Louie. The moment we entered this Italian spot I was in awe!! I loooooved it in there. The huge, open space with high ceilings and a very plain, yet chic white interior was buzzing on this Monday evening. A huge display of desserts greeted us as we walked in, which included numerous flavours of French macarons and beignets. There was also prepared foods, as well as coffee and other beverages sold at this front counter space. We were seated and greeted by a friendly waitress and brought an interesting shaped bread, which was perfectly complemented by soft, salty butter. Since this was already stop number three, we opted for just a pizza to share. We couldn’t decide on which one, so we got half of one pizza and half of another which gave us a chance to try some different combinations. One half was topped with fontina cheese, mozzarella, creme fraiche, shittake mushrooms, garlic and Italian parsley, and the other half had ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted garlic, and wild rocket arugula. The soft crust topped with fresh ingredients was the perfect choice. I will most defitnely visit Bottega Louie on my next trip to Los Angeles!
As a little treat for later, which Jonty and I enjoyed in bed, we brought home one nutella stuffed beignet and a few macarons. I was literally in heaven. The nutella oozed out of the fried doughy goodness. My mouth waters at the thought.
Our last stop was Canter’s deli to take a look. We were all incredibly stuffed and definetly did not have any room for a huge deli sandwhich. However, there is always room for dessert. Along with my treats from Bottega, we got a little slice of carrot cake, plain cheesecake, and cookies and cream cheesecake to bring back home with us. *Although not the most appetizing photo, I can assure you they tasted juuuusssst fine 🙂
Stay tuned for the rest of our eats in part 2, coming soon!