I visit Los Angeles at least twice a year to visit my family and friends. Sometimes my visits are nice and long (a month!!) and some are short (a week). When I'm doing the shorter version my time must be calculated and planned wisely. Restaurant wise this means that I generally don't have the luxury to try new places- I want what I know is good and is going to make me feel at home (or what was formerly home). Last time I was in LA-it was for a total of five days- and somehow I was able to squeeze in a new spot that I have been wanting to go to for a very long time, and was recommended by one of the best LA/NY foodies I know...Deanna
So here's the list plus one inspired recipe. Restaurants are in no particular order.
Brent's Deli- (818) 886-5679
This is the real deal when it comes to deli food. My flight from Tel Aviv to LA usually lands at 6:00 am and my dad and I have a ritual when it comes to this place. He picks me up from the airport, we head straight over to Brent's and order the same thing each and every time. Ron's Special Brunch- it comes with eggs (pancake style, well done), smoked fish of your choice (whitefish), potatoes or home fries (home fries), tomatoes, onions, olives , lettuce and your choice of bagel or toast. I always order a cup of lima bean soup as well- even at 7 am- because it's the best soup I've ever tasted. Anything deli can be found here and at great prices and even better portions- my mom (who waits at home for me)always gets the leftovers from the brunch that even the two of us couldn’t finish.
Katsuya - (818) 985-6976
I have been eating sushi ever since I remember myself and my first sushi bar was (and still is) called Kabuki, a small, authentic, neighborhood joint. A nice sushi chef named Katsu worked there. Today Katsu is the man behind the Katsuya brand/chain with over 14 locations. I've been to several of the restaurants, but my favorite by far is still the original Katsuya in Studio City. If you have never had a baked crab roll or rock shrimp from Katsuya, well in LA you would just be considered strange, and elsewhere you are simply deprived of pure goodness.
Angelini Osteria- (323)297-0070
For a proper Italian meal, this is it. This intimate bustling restaurant has a relatively narrow menu, but everything on it will literally make you salivate just by reading it. Their homemade pastas (Pumpkin Tortelli with Butter, Sage and Asparagus) are nothing less than the perfect and the chicken (Rosie Organic Half Chicken alla Diavola with Roasted Potatoes and Spinach) yes, chicken is the best I've ever tasted. Every day they have a different meaty special, so check the menu and pick your day to visit.
Pizzeria Mozza-(323) 297-0101
Pizzeria Mozza is the child of three extremely capable parents: Nancy Silverton (co-founder of La Brea Bakery), Joseph Bastianich (restaurateur and vineyard owner) and Mario Batali (no explanation necessary). It's my go-to spot for lunch when I'm in the city. The antipasti's like the brussel sprouts with prosciutto breadcrumbs and fried squash blossoms with ricotta are just the right size so that you can order a few and share with the table. Next is pizza- and I love pizza. There are so many amazing options to choose from that this is always my dilemma when coming here. I try a different one every time and have yet to be even the slightest bit let down. I could go on explaining about this place- the wine, the desserts, etc. but I don't want to ruin the imaginary taste of pizza I have right now.
Cobras and Matadors-(323) 932-6178
This is the new spot- so I have only been here once, but it was such a joyful experience that it has landed on this list. First off, this place has a BYOB policy, and I have to say that it's quite refreshing to be able to bring whatever wine (and price-range) you desire. If you buy wine from the wine shop across the street the $5 US corkage fee is waived. Now onto the food- this is a true to self Spanish tapas bar. I was there in a group of 8 and this was the way to go. We ordered almost everything on the menu (some things twice). Everything I tried was gone within a minute (that's how good this place is). The grilled angus skirt steak, one of their larger tapas, comes with white corn salad and fig jam. The sweet potato fries were a great to munch on while we were waiting for our next plate. Everything comes out here as it is ready, so your dining experience ends up being spontaneous and fluid. The socca cakes (highly talked about and completely lived up to their expectation) were so good that they inspired me to try to recreate the recipe.
Chickpea Pancakes served with Honey and Goat Cheese - Inspired by Cobra's and Matador's Socca cakes
This is a dish for people (like me) who appreciate sweet and savory flavors together.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings (depending on size)
1 cup chickpea flour (also known as gram flour- can be found in Middle Eastern and Indian markets)
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ stick (2 oz.) butter, melted
½ cup honey
7 oz. soft goat cheese
- In a large bowl mix together both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the milk, eggs and butter. Mix until all ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Heat a heavy bottomed skillet coated with canola oil on medium heat and use a soup ladle to spoon out the batter and place onto the skillet.
- Cook on one side for about 4 minutes, until bubbles appear. Flip the pancake on the other side and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Evenly drizzle honey onto each pancake and top with slices of goat cheese.