Archive for the ‘los angeles restaurants’ Category

West Hollywood: The Veggie Grill

Veggie Grill Chickin Caesar WrapYum… Chikin always makes me hungry. You see… we like our meat now and again (if it’s organic and sustainable, of course), but there’s really nothing like some solid veggie fare to make us reconsider our carnivorous tastes altogether.  That’s why we’re whispering in the ears of our veggie loving readers to let them now of the brand new opening of The Veggie Grill this September on the corner of Sunset Blvd and Crescent Heights in Sunset Plaza. Bringing its wholesome, 100% plant-based food to West Hollywood, their food is not only delicious and healthy… it’s affordable! The menu focuses on flavor first with signature menu items including the “Santa Fe Crispy Chickin” (Crispy Fried Chickin’, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Avocado, Southwestern Spiced Vegan Mayo, $8.95), “Sweetheart Fries” (Sweet Potato Fries seasoned and served with Chipotle Ranch, $4.25); and Baja Fiesta (Chopped Romaine, Papaya, Avocado, Roasted Corn Salsa, Quinoa, Cucumber, Cilantro with a Ginger-Papaya Vinaigrette, $8.95). Some new additions to the menu include the “All Hail Kale” (Marinated Organic Kale and Red Cabbage, Roasted Corn Salsa, Agave-Roasted Walnuts with a Ginger-Papaya Vinaigrette, $7.95) and “Bayou Chickin’” (Chillin’ Chickin’, lightly blackened with Cajun Spices, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Thousand Island Dressing, $8.95). With this new location, The Veggie Grill makes it even more convenient for Angelenos to enjoy premium vegetarian food in a cute, casual environment. It’s comfort food everyone can feel good about eating.

The Veggie Grill ( is on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Sunset Plaza

8000 Sunset Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90046

LA Local Gem: Gonpachi on La Cienega

One word. “Naga.”

Short for Katsuo Nagasawa, originally from the Fukushima region of Japan. “Naga” (as he’s better known) is applauded in restaurant circles for his 20+ years in Pacific Rim cuisine. Recently appointed new Executive Chef of the year-old Gonpachi, Beverly Hills on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row, he joins Masa Yamamoto, the Executive Sushi Chef (and six-year veteran of Gonpachi Tokyo), and Yasu Kusano, Executive Chef of Soba and Sumi-Yaki, where they can be found grilling robata, dicing sashimi, and pounding buckwheat noodles by hand nightly, a highlight Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbilia deemed “worth a trip just to see, and taste.”

Under different management when it first opened, the word has been slow to get out, but JAUNT says, ‘Great place, solid cuisine.’ Weekends draw more of a crowd, while during the week it’s a bit quiet, so spread the word… we don’t want to see it go away. Located across the street from Matsuhisa and down the way from Benihana has kept it under wraps, but the prices are a little less painful and the food on par with the likes of Koi and Kantana.

The atmosphere?
Well, it happens to be a world apart.

Imagine a two-story 11,000-square-foot Japanese spectacle steeped in Japanese carpentry, cherry blossoms, lighting fixtures imported from Japan, Zen gardens, and intricately-designed roof tiles. The dining area consists of a large sushi bar, open seating in the center, booths lining the perimeter, and private rooms where you can sit with a group on the floor, straight up Japanese style. We here at JAUNT love to sit on the floor and it’s tough to find that in this part of town.

Pst. the only other Gonpachi’s are in Japan.

Chef Naga’s inventive new menu consists of an array of traditional and fusion Japanese items like the always tasty Yellowtail Carpaccio with enoki mushroom in a warm ginger jalapeno dressing and traditional hot robata plates.

They also present several interesting sobas, both hot and cold, and add unique touches to dishes like their baked dynamite by resting it on eggplant and topping with corn and the occasional spicy crunch of red peppercorns, a welcome revision from the sometimes deliciously mundane. Try the Yuba Roll with accents of madras curry and wasabi aioli wrapped in soy paper or the Flaming Grady, a mix of spicy lobster, albacore and jalapeno. With the introduction of new flavors to the already popular, standard sushi dishes around Los Angeles, Naga’s competing with the best.

“A restaurant of Gonpachi’s magnitude needs standout cuisine to rival its visual excellence,” reveals Naga amid his lavish new surroundings. “My goal is to help make an already-impressive experience…unforgettable.”

Gonpachi is open for dinner, sushi and cocktails seven nights a week, so let’s keep it in business. We could use somewhere good, cozy, close, and NEW to go.

134 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 659-8887

LA: Your Restaurant Cheat Sheet

Tell me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it seem like there’s a new restaurant opening in LA about as often as Britney runs a red or Posh Spice designs a new pair of jeans?

Whether it’s Mike Ovitz’s West Hollywood hot spot, Kumo, or Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, LA is full of new flavors of the month. Finding out what’s hot is as easy as visting Citysearch or reading my favorite bread & butter, LA Confidential Magazine. Discovering what’s been right under your nose all along, well… that’s like dating your best guy friend. So many factors to consider in this tawdry game of love and fine food, nay?

In our quest for what’s brewing beneath the surface, we queried Monique-Marie DeJong, editorial coordinator for Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC’s Today show, who took to the streets to inform our readers on the solid local spots you may, or may not be, aware of. Some are new; others are merely in need of some re-discovery, so be a chowhound and get munching.

Exposed, worn-stoned walls and a Tuscan villa appearance create a causal, yet elegant, atmosphere at Fraîche. The Mediterranean cuisine—specifically French and Italian—offers roasted corn soup, braised rabbit tortelli with sage brown butter and artichokes, bouillabaisse, and oysters on the half shell. The wine list has over 300 selections, and esteemed Sommelier Thierry Perez assists guests with creating the utmost food and wine combination. After dinner, visit the often-busy bar and try one of their specialty cocktails. Might I recommend the Leblon Infused Sugar Cane Mojito?

9411 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: (310) 839-6800

Piccolo Paradiso
Strikingly modern yet surprisingly warm, The Drago family’s famed Piccolo Paradiso puts you at ease with its hospitable staff and traditional Italian dishes. The upbeat atmosphere is a great option for a causal business lunch or dinner. Don’t be surprised to find the chef-owner Giacomino Drago conversing with his guests. On his menu, he even includes a tribute to Mamma Drago: carnaroli rice with porcini mushroom.

150 S. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 271- 0030

Sushi Wa
No, it certainly won’t make you cry (unless you’re really, really happy), but you will wonder why the hell you’ve never been here. The simple décor at Wa avoids the trendy nightlife that is West Hollywood. Instead, emphasis is placed on authentic Japanese sushi like salmon sashimi, lemon, and sea salt, sea bass with eggplant and the most interesting Japanese kelp this side of WeHo. Distinct flavors, super-fresh fish and dizzying choices of traditional, fusion, or contemporary dishes will entice you to select more than you can finish. Be forewarned… reservations, if only made a few hours ahead, are a must. This place packs up.

1106 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: (310) 854-7285

Hidden Restaurant
It will… surprise you. The phantasmagoria of international cuisines draws from Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, and Japanese flavors—a perfect remedy for those who, like me, need variety. Limitless choices won’t disappoint under shaded palm leaves and seductive light. Dishes include the likes of thin-crusted pizza, beef pho, and smoked prosciutto. Care for a pomegranate mojito, wine, or sake? Answer D. All of the Above.

3110 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone: (310) 399-4800

Via Veneto
A great friend from Italy once took me here. I considered dating him based on that alone. So, if you don’t end up dating the man (or woman) who takes you here too, you may as well promise life long friendship. I sure as hell did. With rich, wooden floors complemented by romantic, amber candlelight, Via Veneto’s menu (and straight off the sexyboat staff) offers a variety of authentic Roman and Tuscan specials in an intimate old-world, Italianate-hip ambiance. Dishes resound with fragrant flavors brought out of the finest meats, while regional notes from Central Italy and the Islands bring guests classic creamy risottos and daily selections of fresh fish. When half the diners hail from Milano or Roma, you know you’re in for authentic.

3009 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Phone: (310) 399-1843

Le Petit Greek
One of the best low-key lunch or dinner spots in Larchmont Village, Le Petit Greek has a generous selection of Greek wines from both the mainland and islands. If you enjoy sunny lunches, try the sidewalk seating. Inside, the white and green tablecloths and black and white photographs of Greece create a pleasant dining experience. Traditional Greek dishes include hummus, stuffed grape leaves, flamed cheese with ouzo, rack of lamb, and layered eggplant with zucchini, potatoes, and ground beef.

127 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Hancock Park, CA 90004
Phone: (323) 464-5160

If you like good ol’ American staples but appreciate finer, creative dishes, Blair’s is the place for you. First and foremost, you’ll feel like you’ve flown to Seattle… or a warm boite in the village. Lightly peppered with paintings, Blair’s envelops you with terra cotta walls, and its minimal décor leaves you feeling invited but not overwhelmed with interior stimuli. The rich, but tempting truffled mac ‘n cheese will leave you full, but without regret. If you like gnocchi, you’ll love the sweet potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, wilted watercress and yam coulis.

2903 Rowena Ave.
Silver Lake, CA 90039
(323) 660-1882

– Monique-Marie DeJong

LA Local Gem: Melrose Bar & Grill

I love it when I come across a local gem. I love it even more when it’s close to home. Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.

‘Honey, where should we eat?’
‘Somewhere close.’
‘We had sushi last night.’
‘Somewhere good… and inexpensive.’
‘Looks like it’s Baja Fresh.’

Well, think again.

Finally, the neighborhood has a new cozy bar & restaurant that feels like a NY grill without the pretense. Melrose Bar & Grill, nestled discretely on Melrose near Robertson and Doheny… is somewhere between NY pub and Aspen den. Now, I don’t normally order duck or burgers, but I had a bite of my husband’s Duck Burger with Gouda Cheese and Cherry Ketchup and I almost kissed the chef. Then there’s the Berkshire Pork Chop cider brined and served Alsatian style with house cured sauerkraut, the Mediterranean Platter, Thin Crust Pizzas and snacks like Warm Pretzels with House Made Sausage. Specials include Fresh Oysters, Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice (my personal favorite), Fish, Cheeses, and Desserts. And… let’s certainly not forget about the 600 + wine list, selection of sakes, specialty cocktails and beers on tap. As they say, ‘The atmosphere is casual, relaxed and contemporary.’ Wood banquettes, a fireplace, an open kitchen, a spacious bar… I give Melrose Bar & Grill a 9.5 for being that go-to neighborhood spot perfect for couples, family, and friends. You can actually talk, dine well, and leave without spending half your paycheck. Their goal? To keep everything under $25.

It’s about time, LA.

Shhh… don’t tell everyone, just tell enough people to keep this awesome gem around.

Melrose Bar & Grill
8826 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 278-3684

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