Eating LA Morning til Night

Eating LA Morning til Night

Exploring the City in Every Bite

photos ©Dawn Garcia

Dining in LA is an experience. Something everyone in this city does happily – and often. So I figured that if you’re like me you may want to map out a day of feasting from morning til night because let’s face it, we’re a city abundant in exquisite culinary choices. We traveled from Pasadena to Downtown and stopped at three incredible eateries, each with their own story, design, bar program and authentic menus.

Once you’ve read the experiences at each one? May you find yourself hungry and thirsty …

BRUNCH + Cocktails

The RAYMOND

1250 S. Fair Oaks | Pasadena, CA. 91105 | Reservations (626) 441 3136

The Raymond in Pasadena is a restaurant that has a story you have to know. Once home to the Raymond Hotel, this was the hot spot where starlets would flock, architectural innovation would thrive and love would bloom. The present location of the Raymond Restaurant is actually the cottage of William Raymond and his wife. After re-building the original Raymond Hotel after a tragic fire, he built a grand 300-room hotel in its stead and a cottage on site for his family. In their private cottage, they would host a slew of guests including the fathers of physical comedy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Sadly, the Hotel would have to close.

That cottage is now what we know as the Raymond Restaurant and all of the love, charm and appeal exists in the detail of the architecture, the food prepared and the cocktails created. This is how we began our culinary expedition …

EAT UP

Chef Inspired Omelet | Japaneno bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese and salsa verde
(Vegetarian option: tomato, spinach, mushrooms, goat cheese and pesto
Dutch Baby | German style pancake with fresh seasonal fruit and sweet cream
Italian Baked Eggs | Prosciutto, potatoes and mushrooms baked with tomato and parmesan with sourdough

 

The chef inspired omelet was beautiful and light but it’s the jalapeño bacon that sets this apart. It’s the perfect combination of salt and fat and spice all wrapped into one. The eggs were cooked flawlessly and I loved that they let me add some spinach. That bit of iron only enhanced the flavors of the bacon, cheddar and in-house salsa verde. The Italian baked eggs remind me of shakshuka and is a hearty home for perfect eggs with the rich tomato base and the savory influence of prosciutto. Lastly, the Dutch Baby is a pancake on sweetened steroids (in the best of ways). With a healthy serving of fresh blackberries, blueberries and strawberries atop the powder sugar, it’s an exceptional way to brunch! Couple that with one of their intricate cocktails and it’s the beginning of a day that will be happily gluttonous.

DRINK UP

The cocktail program at the Raymond bar, 1886 was created by my friend Marcos Tello so you can come here and know you’re going to get a drink with thoughtfulness and a whole lot of fun! Working with a slew of mixologists from Jesus Gomez, Luis Nava, Adam Vaughn, Casey Levental, Cameron Masden, Ned Kirby and Raymond Morales, there is a range of flavor profiles, curious concoctions and a hearty dose of old school vintage with modern twists.

While each drink has a tale worth exploring, I throughly enjoyed Marcos’ Wren’s Remedy and Adam’s Blackwell. With winter keeping us brisk these days, Wren’s Remedy has a warmth and sweetness to it that invites you to sit back and imagine. The beet-infused mezcal with the vermouth and a touch of campari is simple and generous in taste. It just seems like something you’d drink back in the 1940’s. As for the Blackwell? It’s a bit herbaceous with a hint of heat, a touch of love and a lot of complexity. This cocktail brings spicy, herbal, sweet and aromatic all to the forefront.

LUNCH + Art

Drago Ristorante

6060 Wilshire Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90036 | RESERVATIONS (323) 800-2244

Lunch is one of the more overlooked meals of the day and yet it’s the prelude to the big finale that comes hours later as night sneaks in. We’re big advocates of lunch indulgences and heading to the place where we can feast on luxury cars, history AND Italian food? Kind of seems like an easy choice.

ART | Take in some of the most beautiful specimens of cars ever made before indulging on rustic Italian fare. When you pull into the Petersen Automotive Museum (the largest automotive museum in the world), red contemporary sculpturs line the outer shell of the building like a dispersed garnet hug of visual appeal. Wrapping around like an octopus’ tentacles but done in a sophisticated, elegant way, you find the fluid movement feels much like the tires that grip onto the pavement as they bend and move and find their traction in the heat of a sharp turn during an intense grand prix race. The Petersen is a legendary look at the history of automotive design and feasting at its newly designed, Drago Ristorante? It only lends to the experience.

Drago Ristorante is an Italian inspired restaurant created by the the four Drago brothers, Celestino, Tanino, Calogero and Giacomino and the results make you feel like you could be along the Italian coast watching the famed Grand Prix while biting into rustic local cuisine.

EAT UP

DELIZIE VEGETARIANE | caponata, roasted bell peppers, seasonal roasted vegetables, pea puree, toasted ciabatta bread
MELE E INDIVIA | pink lady apple, smoked bacon, candied walnuts, frisee, mixed lettuce, champagne vinaigrette
PACCHERI | large rigatoni pasta, porcini mushrooms, blue cheese
RISOTTO FIORI DI ZUCCA | butternut squash, zucchini flower, roasted hazelnut, parmesan cheese
TIRAMISU | mascarpone, lady fingers, espresso coffee
HOUSE MADE GELATO & SORBET | trio of vanilla, raspberry and passionfruit

This is the perfect stop for lunch! It’s bright and open floorplan enhances the dishes the Drago brothers created. While each dish, including the in-house bread, is worth a detailed review, it was the Paccheri that blew my mind and opened up my palate! The rigatoni is firm, cooked with the precise amount of temperature as to not disrupt the composition of the pasta itself and the porcini mushrooms are exceptional. The blue cheese balances out the porcini, which can sometimes overpower a dish with its intensity. This dish tasted of earth and romance, subtlety and balance and is one I’d order over and over again. The mele e indivia salad has notes of champagne and the bacon with pink lady apples is as if you’ve been invited into a garden to choose your own produce and the chef then pieces it together like a symphony of flavor. It’s that good … Every dish is lovely, including the risotto which is like spring in a bowl with the zucchini flower bringing the plate together. It’s light and refreshing and not too heavy. Lastly, I would be remiss to ignore the yummy desserts! According to Matt, “this is the best tiramisu he’s ever had!” and he devoured every last bite. This is light and ruminating with flavor and refinement. I devoured the gelato and sorbet. The vanilla tasted like it was made that morning with sweet hints of vanilla bean throughout and the sorbets were bright and aromatic.

DRINK UP

While they have an incredible selection of apéritifs, wines and cocktails, I opted for a glass of Taittinger Brut Champagne and then rounded out lunch with an in-house latte. The latte (as you can see above) was a decadent piece of art itself: a self-portrait of the barista with a twist of humor. It tasted as good as it looked.

Let’s just say that this is the way to spend an afternoon in Los Angeles. You’ll be treated like royalty at the restaurant and be pleasantly full as you leave. (But don’t forget: there’s still dinner to plan for!)

DINNER + DRiNKS

Spring Restaurant + Lounge DTLA

257 South Spring Street {Entrance on 3rd Street} | Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Reservations (213) 372.5189

Without further adieu, we have finally arrived at dinner. The evening must always begin with a cocktail and the Lounge is the idyllic place to start.

DRINK UP

You must first begin an evening at Spring by taking some time to sit in the lounge. In a location that is one enormous contrast: the soothing seduction of the lounge and the airy and bright openness of the restaurant, the lounge here is where you should be prepared to hunker down for at least an hour before venturing in for dinner. The lounge is designed with warm tones of emeralds, mustard, teals and rich dark wood accents. With contrasting elements of brick, metal, velvets offset by candlelight, you feel intrigued to slip into another time. (The theme we whole-heartedly endorse: allow yourself to imagine days past every chance you get!) The mixology program is one that adds personal touches to classic cocktails. This begins what will be a journey into French Americana cuisine, taking you through dinner. There is no doubt this will be the way to finish strong.

EAT UP

TARTARE DE BOEUF | grass fed strauss family farms beef, garlic, olives, tomato, celery, fennel
BRIE + TRUFFLE | fresh baguette with frisée cheveaux goat cheese with shaved truffle
SALAD D’ARGRUMES | frisée, radicchio, kumquat, pomelos, blood orange, citrus vinaigrette
FILET MIGNON Special | made with a marchand de vin sauce, carrots, brussels sprouts, potato
POIRE |  poached pear, caramelized pecan, streusel, pear sorbet, mousseline
CHANTILLY DESSERT | candied chestnut, black currant cremeaux, pate sucree, chantilly

The dining menu, created by Chef Esnault, emits a sense of the French Countryside, especially with the open kitchen concept. The restaurant is located inside the Douglas Building in the heart of Downtown and is open and bright with an atrium-like roof that gives heed to the concept that the outdoors are within reach. It’s a wonderful homage to both the downtown landscape and the influence of France. Now let’s talk cuisine …

The dishes themselves are true French dishes with rich flavors and sauces, blissful amounts of butter and elements of freshly picked garden vegetables and fruits. With a central fountain, trees and lights all around, you can’t help but feel transported away from the hurriedness of the city.

The escargot is carefully selected and dressed with the aromatics of fennel lending to the abundance of flavor but its the addition of persillad that keeps the true nature of the escargot present. While everything is delectable, the risotto is sublime! The carnaroli rice is plump and the flavors that move throughout every single bite is soft and elegant.

The evening concludes with total and utter decadence by way of the poire and the chef’s special dessert. The poached pear and sorbet marry together with the mousseline like a dance, one leading the other then, with ease, allows the other to shine. The chef’s dessert with black currant, however is like an abstract piece of contemporary art as the ingredients teeter on the edge of the plate leaning in to the swirly vortex of black current. Much like the presentation, it is a truly harmonious end to a delightful evening.

So there you have it. You can expect to get more articles encouraging you to spend your days feasting on the wealth of restaurants, bars and eateries Los Angeles has to offer. With chefs and mixologists coming from all around the world to those that are Angelenos, born and bred, we want to invite you to support the beauty that they all have to offer. Your hunger will always be met, your thirst always satisfied and that? That’s something I happen to love and adore about this city.

Cheers!

For more on where to dine and stay in LA, check out all the places we’ve been … LOS ANGELES