The Best Things I Ate in 2015

Branzino, Maré

Los Angeles has been a phenomenal place to eat for the duration of 2015. In fact, it’s been really hard to keep up with everything going on in all parts of the city, but what a great problem to have. Better food is available in more neighborhoods, helping raise the standard of dining out in all parts. Hopefully all parts, anyway. We do have our native Roy Choi, doing what he can to make sure such positive change reaches otherwise forgotten neighborhoods, with his and Daniel Patterson’s project, LocaL.

But for all the Fig & Olives of the see-and-be-seen L.A. dining scene, there have been some indisputable favorites of mine to rise to the top. I see 2015 as the year we’ve surpassed the huffing and puffing about authenticity and what that even means for all the history and diversity we have in this city. It’s been exciting to taste how we’ve moved beyond all that to a place and time where chefs can confidently make their mark using flavors from all over the world as their paintbrushes.

So read on, and get to it. 2016 is just around the corner:

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Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit Launches Today at California Science Center

Space Shuttle Endeavour

We all remember that magic day last September, when we all climbed onto our work roofs or stepped out onto the street and our porches to see the space shuttle make piggy-backed laps on a NASA 747 around the city. Well, most of us, anyway. We Instagrammed. We Tweeted. We even Facebooked as we ooh’ed and ahh’ed, with some even tracking the red-eye voyage from LAX to its home at the California Science Center.

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Dine LA Restaurant Week Launches Sunday

Last week, the food and restauranteur community of Los Angeles gathered at The Hollywood Roosevelt to celebrate the launch of the winter installment of Dine LA – a two-week-long collaborative effort to offer diners three-course lunches and dinners at six specific price points.

$      Deluxe Dining   $16  $26
$$    Deluxe Dining   $22  $34
$$$   Fine Dining       $28  $44

Burger Slider

The red carpet was out and almost 100 chefs – many donning their white jackets straight from the kitchen – were the stars of the night. Oh – plus Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Writers, journalists, bloggers – what have you – were or weren’t donning our white “PRESS” badges. The purpose was clear: To celebrate food’s imminent role in Los Angeles culture – and the accessibility every man has to fine dining. And why don’t we enjoy some fixins from Dakota Chop House and 25 Degrees with cocktails from Matt Biancaniello of Library Bar to wash them down while we’re at it? Pork belly, tacos, quesadillas, salads, burger sliders and even a shiitake mushroom-infused Manhattan were passed around – but the hits of the night were undeniably the spicy burger sliders and Biancaniello’s arugula gimlet.

Arugula Gimlet

If you haven’t already, make your reservations soon; Dine LA runs Jan 24 – 29 and Jan 31 – Feb 5. The bevy of restaurants this round tops 243. Schedule a lunch in there to save a few dollars – it’s a great occasion to take an extended break from work. Eva (lunch or dinner), Palate (dinner), Cube (lunch or dinner) and Petrossian (lunch or dinner) rise to the top of my personal list.

And don’t forget to enter the daily contests Dine LA is holding: Starting 10 AM and running all day, answer a trivia question to be entered to win $100 gift certificates to participating restaurants (today’s is Petrossian, lo and behold). Also follow @dine_la on Twitter for updates.

Bonus: If you’re an American Express card holder, all you have to do is “do” Dine LA three times and you get a $20 credit on your statement. Just spend more than $21 per time.

And if you’re interested in the names behind the scene in Los Angeles food, it might interest you to peep the Dine LA Family Tree to see how they – and we – are all interconnected. Food brings us all together, doesn’t it?

Further reading:

DineLA Flickr Set

Restaurant Deals Ahead: It’s dineLA, the winter version; plus a “family tree” of L.A. chefs & restaurants – LATimes

DineLA Restaurant Week Kicks Off With Celebri-Chef Party – LAist

Dine LA Restaurant  Week Launch Party – ShopEatSleep

Jan 24 – 29 and Jan 31 – Feb 5, 2010

Dine LA Website
Various locations throughout Los Angeles
Call early for reservations

Lindsay, Dawson and Sabrina

4th Annual Great Walk of Los Angeles

H.C. and Siel at Shrine

I’ve a confession. It’s been awhile since this Angeleno and once-Marathoner has clocked even a mile on foot. So when I heard that Michael of Franklin Avenue‘s Great Walk of LA was coming up – I knew it was time to come through. To my relief, I found out Siel of Green LA Girl and H.C. of LA-OC-Foodie would also be there and I’d have my day-long walking partners.

Since Saturday’s walk, I think I’ve averaged about 10 hours of sleep per night. My average is usually 6-7. I am still sore.

We started off in Shrine Auditorium by USC and from estimation it looked like about 250 people were gathered there. Walkers were all ages and of all backgrounds – including USC students, families, couples, single people, bona fide and once-per-year walkers (like myself). Michael got on the blowhorn and handouts on the history of the nearby West Adams district were available.

St. Vincent de Paul Church

Our walk involved a few loops around the historic neighborhood, giving us a real appreciation for an area that would otherwise be easily dismissed. From Numb3rs to Six Feet Under, many shows were filmed in a lot of these huge houses. We also passed by Marvin Gaye’s house in which he was also tragically shot by his father.

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Cabbin’ it in LA: It’s Text-a-Taxi

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Photo credit to elakerfan on Flickr

I’m going to New York next week. Though I’m very much a subway girl while there, there will be a lot of taxis – and at that, ones you can hail. I doubt any of us ever instructed anybody to “hail a cab” as a means of getting around Los Angeles. Despite our best efforts, that is. But let’s get serious here. Outside the airport or hotel complete with taxi lanes, we’re most accustomed to calling one if we had planned to use a cab, at all. I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced many a frustration with operators on the other line while trying to call one.

This Labor Day weekend might be prime time to try a new experiment. I know you’re on your phone texting your dogsitter, anyway!!

I may end up loving where I live even more (the key phrase for that would be, “central to everything”) because I just found out about a new service that makes cab service even more conducive for my friends and I to take around town. You can now text the address of your location to “777222” and GoFastCab will dispatch a cab directly to you, wherever you are in L.A. – even South Bay and Long Beach! Sweet!

After texting your address, you get a confirmation text back to you so you know they received it (and that your text didn’t get lost in outer space). If you change your mind, you can also text “CANCEL” to the same number and that will cancel your cab. If you’re wondering where your cab is before he gets to you, you can text “STATUS” for a status message back.

I think the best part about this, though, is when you’re out at the bar and not exactly sure when to cash out because you want to secure the cab you called – for fear of someone else snatching your cab from you. The service calls you when they’re outside!

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Club Taxidermy

Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History“You’re on the VIP list, right?” she asked.

“Uh…yeah.” I had stopped just short of overcompensating. “Yeah!

We had tried 3 different names and none of them were on the list. So, C and I turned away from what we had previously thought was a “regular RSVP list check-in table” and reconvened about 10 feet away on the steps of The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, where Interpol (wiki), an American indie rock band was being thrown a party in celebration of their new album, Our Love To Admire.

I peeped past the table and into the entrance. I could see T-Rex and Triceratops skeletons, each bone held in suspension but positioned with the T-Rex’s jaws at the Triceratops’ neck.

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