While I’m flying across the Pacific to the big sassy city of LA, my new friend cum travel blogger Melanie Waldman is filling in as my guest blogger. Her blog Travels With Two is a couple’s informal guide to charming cities around the world, with a romantic touch! Get ready for a series showcasing the Best of Los Angeles, as she brings us on a tour around her hometown!
Photo by Destination360
When I heard Nellie and Alberto were headed to my hometown, Los Angeles, I was not only excited — I also heeded the call to guide them towards Travels With Two’s favorite experiences in this vast and eclectic city!
Dining is almost a sport in L.A. You might not win any medals for it, but you’re sure to feel all warm inside.
Here are some of our favorite spots to chow down on in the City of Lights:
BREAKFAST & BRUNCH
Aroma Cafe 4360 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City
Make friends in line, browse the in-house bookstore, and have a seat in the rambling courtyard at this cozy place, the best breakfast in the Valley. The Salmon Stack, design-your-own omelettes, fruit salad and breakfast quesadilla are divine, as are the selection of teas. The baked goods case is legendary.
Cafe Montana 1534 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica
Apparently, everything here is good — we’ve never gotten past the beautiful omelettes and delicious coffee. The glass-encased room offers a fishbowl view of Santa Monica’s fanciest shopping street.
Millie’s Cafe 3524 Sunset Boulevard, Silverlake
An institution since 1926, this friendly gem invites you to perch grill-side and watch your meal being prepared with care. Carnivores, vegetarians and rosemary potatoes are served.
The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Perfect for a special occasion. Besides the fact that everything here is almost absurdly delicious, the elegant, flower-filled courtyard invites you to listen to live music and simply smile at each other.
Taste on Melrose 8454 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
The ideal weekend seats are on the airy porch, with friendly service and a view of the area’s most prestigious shopping district, Melrose Heights (Melrose Avenue between Fairfax & Robertson). Try the bellini of the day, the Taste Protein Scramble, or the Breakfast Panini.
Cheebo 7533 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
Just a mention of the fabulous Cheebo Chop salad can turn Adam’s worst day around. We love to sit out front, drink endless iced teas, and pretend not to notice the celebrities at the next tables.
Julienne 2649 Mission Street, San Marino
If you’ve just been to the exquisite Huntington Gardens, take a seat on the patio and bask in a mini-vacation. A shaded street, tables that feel private, and you can pair two salads for $15 — the price of a single salad in LA proper. We love the chicken salads with tarragon, or dried apricots and almonds.
Lemonade 9001 Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood
You’ll find an excellent collection of prepared salads (served cafeteria style) and the best lemonade we’ve ever tried. We get a ginger and a cucumber mint…and share.
Newsroom Cafe 120 N. Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood
Celebrity-sighting central, attracting paparazzi spillover from the far more expensive Ivy across the street. Try the sublime grilled artichoke, tandoori chicken salad, and honeydew concoction known as Moon Juice.
Absolutely Phobulous 350 N. La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood
An extremely popular hole in the wall. We’ve been known to come twice a week for Vietnamese pho ga (chicken soup with rice noodles), rice paper-wrapped spring rolls, Chicken Xiu Xiu, or the cabbage-mint Buddha’s Chicken Salad. Love their soda chanh, a sparkling lemonade.
A.O.C. 8022 W. 3rd Street, Mid-City Los Angeles
Our hands-down favorite for our birthdays. Small plates of delicate, gorgeous creations, cheese from the gods, and a wine tasting menu that could bring you both to tears of joy. Cheap? No? Worth it? Yes.
BLD 7450 Beverly Boulevard, Mid-City Los Angeles
A stylish dining room, lovely wines, and darn tasty food. Construct your own meal from proteins, sauces and sides, or make a whole dinner of appetizers like risotto croquettes and crab-stuffed squash blossoms.
Cobras & Matadors 4655 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz (our preferred location)
We keep coming back to this Spanish tapas mecca for the addictive chickpea socca cakes with honey, lil’ skillet of paella, asparagus with manchego and almonds, and big selection of Spanish wines.
Il Cielo 9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills
One of the most romantic spots in LA. A sublime Italian restaurant with a walled-in, vine-covered, twinkly-light-strewn courtyard where violinists stroll by your table, leonine fountains trickle and champagne flows.
Kiwami 11920 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City
Our own neighborhood has so many sushi spots, it’s known as Sushi Row; the Row’s best food is here. Miso tuna served like a sushi roll in slices of Japanese eggplant; an extensive array of tempuras; gorgeous spicy tuna on crispy rice cakes; and daily sashimi choices prepared with yuzu, green onion, or salt and lemon.
Primitivo 1025 Abbott Kinney Boulevard, Venice
An extensive wine list, friendly service, and incredible small plates of food from across the Mediterranean. Sit inside in the airy but dim dining room, or out back on the patio beside a funky plant store. Their bacon-wrapped dates, golden beet salad and Spanish tortilla are big enough to share…and should be.
Real Food Daily 414 N. La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood (our preferred location)
LA’s most popular organic vegan restaurant, and one of the city’s best places to spot celebrities. This is where people who are paid to look good come to stay that way. We also happen to love their art-filled dining room, creative weekly specials, roseberry tea, and Yin-Yang Salad with marinated tofu.
Shin BBQ 1600 N. Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood
LA’s Korean food mecca is Koreatown, but this place is stylish, hip, friendly…and offers a staggering $25 all-you-can-eat special. Their bulgogi beef, pan-fried cellophane noodles, and spicy chicken are all revelations. Bring change or spring for valet; parking meters around here run ’til 10pm.
Tagine 132 N. Robertson Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Our favorite Moroccan restaurant for the dark, sexy lighting, perfect little bastillas (phyllo-wrapped hen dusted with sugar, cinnamon and almonds), mood music, and complete lack of belly dancers. Try a tasting menu to really see what the kitchen can do.
Melanie Waldman lives in Los Angeles and writes the couples’ travel blog, Travels With Two. Her blog has been nominated in the Lonely Planet Travel Blog Awards.