Twenty-One Reasons to dineL.A.: January 19 – February 1, 2015

Lobster Roll – Blue Plate Oysterette

DineL.A. is back and it’s time to scour the menus of participating restaurants all over town. I’ve come up with some reasons to jet to a particular dining establishment near you, whether for lunch or for dinner. Some restaurants offer exclusive dishes to dineL.A., others are offering a particularly enticing lunch and/or dinner menu. There are also participants that might normally be out of your price range or sense of adventure, but dineLA might just be the right occasion to give them a try.

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Open Sesame: Legit Lebanese on Beverly (Plus Giveaway)

Sultan’s Platter

In the old space that once housed Hatfield’s, then Eva Restaurant, is now an outpost of a successful Belmont Shores import. The new location of the Lebanese chainlet called Open Sesame is admirably strategic; it’s well north of other Mediterranean haunts on Pico but south of those in The Valley. It adds to the diversity of dining options on Beverly Boulevard, and from my experience a couple weeks ago, a viable choice for flavorful food which also doubles as healthful. Those seeking vegetarian, vegan or Halal compliant will be happy that this popped up in the neighborhood.

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The Great White Truffle Round-up of Los Angeles

White Truffles at SAAM, The Bazaar

It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s time to indulge in one of the true delicacies of the world. Forget the artificial truffle oil (redundant) of the ’90s – the real thing has a season and the time to enjoy white truffles is now.

Of course, at two to three thousand dollars per pound, it’s quite easy to break the bank while partaking. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of options in different forms (cocktails! tasting menus! burgers!) and price points that will ensure you’re able to get your fungi fix.

Let’s start out with a cocktail by Matty B, why don’t we?

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Fresh, Fall Cocktails Launch at Crossroads

Cause for Alarm, Parisian Standard, Lady From Shanghai, Forever Young

Now that the restrictions that come with a vegan diet fail to faze him, Jeremy Lake, in his second cocktail menu since Crossroads has opened, made efforts to advance the drinks even further and towards a healthful mindset. And if any restaurant in Los Angeles has been successful at reframing how a diet with no animal by-products is viewed, it’s Crossroads. Everything here is delicious – without mention of the usual apologetics – and the new fall cocktail menu is no exception.

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Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe: All the Health, All the Flavor

Rice Noodle Delight Bowl

It’s not enough, these days, to simply give a pass to vegetarian and vegan food. Going past crunchy, granola stereotypes often attached to a plant-based diet, I imagine, has to be a welcome option for those having adopted conscientious lifestyles.

Good thing there’s Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe, a place you’ll want to visit for their teas and shakes but also their food – no matter what your diet. Because even if you’re an omnivore in Los Angeles, you’ll still eat out with some friends you might oblige with a more than the couple options than, say, what you might find on a menu at a BBQ place. (I know. The sacrifices you make.)

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My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Lunch Picks for Summer, 2013: July 15 – 26

RivaBella’s Nidi di Rondine

This summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week commences today and lasts 10 days – over two weekday stretches and one weekend. And since we’ve had a few of these by now, it’s probably time we got smart on maneuvering through the multitude of menus. The trick with dineLA prix fixe is that it may get people through the door, but it may or may not be quite the deal you had in mind. The danger is that you might just be stuck with fewer, albeit recommended, choices for about the same price you’d normally pay.

May I propose lunch? They tend to be better deals than dinner – often true between both offerings of the same restaurant – because there’s more incentive to increase lunch traffic with dinner reservations filling up more readily. So whether you’ve got a 9-5 in the area or are in a certain neighborhood for an audition or client appointment, there’s probably a great dineLA power lunch strategy wherever you end up.

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The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook Launch at Chloe’s, Golden Road Brewing

by Randy Clemens

Tomorrow marks the launch of the follow-up to The Sriracha Cookbook: The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook. It’s actually likely nearer and dearer to the author’s heart since Randy Clemens himself is vegan.

Whatever our diet, we can all partake in the cult that celebrates the, green cap-topped, garlic-vinegar-red jalapeño sauce that is Huy Fong Foods’ flagship, the famous “Rooster Sauce.” The launch event is free and both cookbooks will be available for purchase with Randy’s autograph – and everyone who does will receive a special edition of Sriracha sauce packaged in a limited edition bottle with “The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook — July 2, 2013” printed on it.

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Clover: The Cold-Pressed Juice Bar on La Brea Opens Tomorrow

Clover Juices

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Okay, let’s try that again. I very much leave things to the last minute, and now that the new year rush is over, it may just be time to do a juice cleanse. Though I’ve never done one, I’ve perhaps been inspired by my on-going, 2-month long Pilates-spin regimen. Let’s be honest: What I put into my body gets a lot more attention – despite all the events and dinners – whenever I’m working out regularly.

Clover is fittingly located next to a yoga studio for the ultimate environment in mind-body conscientiousness. The organic juices support local sustainable farming with the produce it sources. But it doesn’t stop there; there’s also kombucha on tap, Stumptown coffee, food by Silver Lake’s Flore Vegan but also sandwiches by The Churchill’s Executive Chef Bruce Kalman. Pastries sold in-store will be created by Lauren Lobley of Charm City Cakes, which will also include vegan and gluten free options baked fresh, daily.

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Urban Garden: Fresh, Casual Lebanese Fare on Fairfax

Tabouli, Fatoush & Falafel

Though there’s a new eatery in the neighborhood, its proprietor is anything but a stranger. George Abou-daoud’s newest venture (The Bowery, Rosewood Tavern, Township, The Mercantile) does not actually include a liquor license.

Instead, you’ll find fresh Lebanese made from scratch. Your trusty Mediterranean selections like babaganoush, lebneh yogurt, organic chickpea & quinoa falafel, tabouli, fattoush salad, vegetarian kibbeh, lentil mujadarra, stuffed cheese rolls, fried cauliflower can be found at Urban Garden for an average combo price of $9-$15 a pop. It’s a great addition to Fairfax Village, at once metaphorically and physically across the street from mainstays as historic as Canter’s and iconic as Animal.

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Tender Greens Offers More Than Just Fast-Casual Salads

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs Stew, Rainbow Carrots, Fingerling Potato, Celery, Onion ($10.50)

Tender Greens has not only been open for awhile, they’ve been rapidly expanding all over Southern California with each location employing unique, add-on menus onto a solid, base selection of salads, sandwiches and hot plates. And though they are filed under the “fast-casual” column that has been touted as a 2011 food trend, Tender Greens operates with all the sensibilities of a stand-alone rather than a chain. Or worse – a fad.

Happy Vegan Salad ($10.50)

I love having Tender Greens near my place as a healthy option should I run out of goods in my refrigerator. Their produce, sourced from Scarborough Farms, is as fresh (not so tender) as any you’ll find at a sit-down restaurant, though at Tender Greens you’ll appreciate the easy way of placing your order at the beginning of line, to pick your order up (and/or a number for the remainder) as you reach the cash register with a minimal wait. Consider it an upscale cafeteria. I like the no-nonsense, and since it saves a few bucks off my check while I can get some solid nourishment, I know what I came for.

On to the “add-on” specials being offered at each location. In West Hollywood, they’re offering one-pots that change daily. I had the opportunity awhile back to try the roast of the day, a slow-cooked beef ribs stew, and devour it I did. It’s a great way to mix the menu up should you feel like deviating from the trusty Happy Vegan (with farro wheat with cranberry, green hummus tabbouleh, hazelnuts quinoa with cucumber and beets and lettuce) – my favorite salad here despite my lack of vegan status. I’m always smitten when the healthiest item on the menu also happens to be the dish I love.

Aztec Brownie ($3)

So go to Tender Greens in West Hollywood and get your one pot on. See what’s in store for the day. Or, if you’re feeling like fitting them  into your warmer weekend calendar – or are just looking for a good excuse to partake in a whole animal roast – schedule Tender Greens Hollywood for the last Sunday of the month beginning April 24th (Easter).

In a special event spearheaded by avid home brewer, Chef Eric Hulme, Tender Greens will welcome Tustin Brewing Company into the space on Sunday, April 24th and together they will be cooking up a whole roasted lamb in the restaurant’s caja china – a Cuban roasting box. For $35 per person, you’ll get to enjoy your Whole Lamb Roast with sauces and sides, beer and dessert on the back patio of the Hollywood location. It also includes tax. Reservations are required, so be sure to contact [email protected] to claim your spot.

With plenty of selections on the menu that aren’t just healthy – they’re also delicious - and even special events and items at the individual locations, everyone should experience Tender Greens at least once. Easter is a great opportunity, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be by beforehand since it’s a neighborhood staple. (In case you were wondering, the Aztec Brownie is a solid dessert choice which masquerades as a flourless chocolate cake – it’s good.)

All food and drink were hosted.

One-pots available in WeHo

Tender Greens
8759 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Whole lamb roast in Hollywood: Sunday, April 24th, 2011 from 5 – 9 PM

Whole animal roasts every last Sunday for Spring and Summer

Tender Greens
6290 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028