Los Angeles

img 1235La Sandia Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar shares the top floor of Santa Monica Place with half a dozen other restaurants, the Food Court and the Market.

You'll recognize La Sandia by the crowded patio and open air bar, offering over 200 tequillas, half a dozen margaritas and Mexican beers, Mojitos, Capirinhas and Sangria pitchers.

The front part of the restaurant is dominated by the busy bar scene, especially at Happy Hour. With generously extended hours Sunday-Thursday from 4:00pm-9:00pm and Friday 4:00pm-7:00pm, Happy Hour appetizers are $3.00 (shrimp ceviche, a choice of quesadillitas, tacos, empanadas and sliders, chicken wings and bbq pork ribs), margaritas $5.00, Mexican bottled beer $3.00, daily specials Mondays-Thursdays and $5.00, "bottomless" bowls of guacamole.

Walk past the bar and you enter the restaurant with a dining room in a plaza style expanse, dominated by a retractable ceiling, a large fountain with four, smiling cherubs and upholstered booths with plush seating.

Read more ...

beerbellygrilledI'm pretty sure LA is the only place that it can be hard to find a restaurant marked by a gigantic neon sign. That's because in a city that's made up of a string of strip malls, neon signs are easy to overlook. And this one is tucked behind the parking lot of an unassuming boba place. It reads 'park' above an arrow pointing one way and 'drink' above an arrow pointing the other way, towards Beer Belly.

Aptly named since (refreshingly for LA) there's not one remotely dietetic thing on the menu. Even the broccoli rabe is drenched in burrata, and don't get me started on the duck fat French fries. Or do, because they're the perfect combination of crispy and greasy.

And the grilled cheese might just be the best I've ever had.

Read more ...

carnitas-elmichoacano.jpgLos Angeles has the best Mexican food in the world.

An established foodie might suggest this claim be true, because of Los Angeles’ high end Mexican cuisine. Places like Casa in downtown or Mexico City in Los Feliz.

But I’m no foodie, so I’m not going to make that claim. I am just a dude who really enjoys regional Mexican food, and LA has got way more of it than any other place.

Without opening the census books, anecdotal evidence shows us that there must be a large percentage of Mexicans from Jalisco. Look at all the restaurants named Taquería Jalisco or Tacos Jalisco #2. This compounded with the prevalence of stickers for the Chivas from Guadalajara, proves my amateur research (Chivas’ MLS team is also based in LA.)

Jalisco like Michoacan, their paisanos to the south, has a propensity towards carnitas that delectable slow roasted pork dish. Carnitas end up everywhere, because this community is so large, and this regional Mexican cuisine has come to embody “Mexican Food” to gringos.

Read more ...

stanslogo.jpg There’s something about being up at 4:00 a.m. that I feel, gives me permission to go to hell in a hand basket, gastronomically speaking.  I dropped my husband and kids off at LAX so he could escort them to Connecticut for summer camp. I always  feel bereft when the kids are away.  Especially our younger daughter Hannah, who I think on the eve of leaving, feels obligated to be sweeter to make up for the fact that her older sister Lena, urged by her teenage-ness, becomes, well, let’s just say, not so sweet.

I slept with Hannah last night and it was like being 13 all over again. Although I think our combined ages when we do that amounts to about 10.  “Quit tickling me!” “I’m not Mom.” “Are too!!” “Am not!” “Oh, Christ, you farted!” “Miss me yet?”

Driving home from the airport, I thought, ‘what would be open at this hour that would be absolutely decadent and bad for me…..?”  “Stan’s!”

Read more ...

Image Artisan cheese in the display case, turkey meatloaf you wish you could make at home, fresh lemonade that’s just the right amount of sweet and sour,  strawberry jam for sale on the shelf, Nicky (and Paris) Hilton at the back table but nobody cares because the Chinese chicken salad is perfect and everyone else has too much to do. Did I mention the cupcakes?! It’s the perfect place to stop when you’re busy, when you barely have time for lunch, but it’s also, the perfect place to hang out.

Read more ...