Tag Archives: Los Angeles Restaurants

A Midday Break With Gold Peak Brewed Tea

Gold-peak-brewed-tea

This post is sponsored by Gold Peak Brewed Tea.

How do you fancy your iced tea?

My friends at Gold Peak Brewed Tea recently posed this question to me, which got me thinking. I am a bit of a purist and I love a tall, cold, refreshing glass of unsweetened iced tea with a big squeeze of lemon. If I have time, I’ll add a few fresh berries and let it naturally infuse with flavor. Lots of ice cubes too please!

My advice? Don’t be afraid to customize your Gold Peak Brewed Tea to make it your own! I love that home-brewed taste that comes from Gold Peak’s high quality tea leaves and pure filtered water.

Iced-tea-gold-peak

I used to be a sweet tea lover, but lately I’ve just enjoyed letting the natural home-brewed taste shine through. It’s a nice little afternoon pick-me-up to get me through the rest of the day.

Paul and I have been working so much lately, that we finally set aside some time to get out of the house and go OUT for lunch. It’s funny, if we don’t book it – it will never happen. Does anyone else ever notice this? Lately, we’ve both been grabbing something quick out of the fridge and eating at our desks. It was nice to plan something and have an afternoon to look forward to! (more…)

The Albright at Santa Monica Pier

Spicy-Seafood-Soup-The-Albright

I’ve walked by The Albright on Santa Monica Pier a few times, but never ventured in. The Pier has its fair share of restaurants that are geared towards tourists – so I’m never sure how good (or really terrible) the food is going to be or if I’m going to be overpaying for food that’s just meh.

I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, the thoughtfulness of the menu and the attentive service at this oceanfront seafood shack. The pricing was also fair considering the prime real estate, ocean views and fresh seafood.

The-Albright-Santa-Monica-Pier

Prior to being renovated and introduced as The Albright last spring, the space was previously home to SM Pier Seafood restaurant. I think the new concept is a vast improvement! The Albright is still a family-owned operation with Yunnie Kim Morena at the helm after taking over from her mother after 35 years.

The nautical knot logo is a nod to tradition and represents the intertwining of family and the two generations of the Kim family who continue the seafood tradition now as The Albright.

The-Albright-Menu

The Space – The Albright has a hip and rustic surf shack vibe with dark wood tables, bench-style seating and a subtle nautical theme without going all Red Lobster on you. The format is quick-serve which I really like. It’s efficient and a bit more casual and laid-back.

You place your order at the counter, grab a number and the staff bring your food out to you when it’s ready. I noticed lots of servers during my visit and everyone around us was being checked up on upon in case they needed anything. So it’s not like you order and they forget about you.

Make sure you grab a table outside with a north facing view of the ocean so you can watch the sunset over a lovely seafood dinner. (more…)

Brunch at The Lobster Santa Monica

Shrimp-Grits-The-Lobster-Santa-Monica

If you’re looking for a special little place for brunch on the Westside and want to wow your dining companions, The Lobster Santa Monica is it. This oceanside restaurant has the perfect combination of location, view and delicious food. I stopped by with Paul recently to sample their newly launched brunch menu and here’s what we ordered:

Shrimp & Grits ($27) – I have never seen a shrimp & grits plate quite like this! The Blue King Prawns had their heads still intact and were served on a bed of Anson Mills White Grits with a Poached Egg and LOTS of Sausage & Shrimp Butter Gravy. I thought the presentation was quite beautiful and a definite brunch showstopper. However, I did have to pick out a few of tentacles out of my broth – so if you’re squeamish about stuff like this, be forewarned.

The gravy was quite rich and in abundance! The sausage does make the gravy a bit oily, but it did not lack in flavour. However the grits were delicious. I would just go easy on the gravy next time and heavy on the grits because they were really good.

Crab-Eggs-Benedict-The-Lobster

The Crab Cakes Benedict ($32) – Say hello to decadence on a plate. I do love this seafood twist on the classic eggs benedict. Poached eggs are served on The Lobster’s meaty crab cakes and served up with a side salad of arugula, sunried tomatoes & fennel for that extra little crunch.

Just breaking into the middle of each egg and letting the yolk run down the sides of a perfectly cooked crab cake is just divine. For seafood lovers, The Lobster truly takes brunch to the next level with these over-the-top menu items. (more…)

A Santa Monica Taco Crawl

Border-Grill-Tacos

Cinco de Mayo is coming up next Tuesday and we will not be caught at home eating a frozen burrito in our pajamas again – no siree. So what’s the plan? Here’s an easy do-it-yourself, walkable taco crawl in Downtown Santa Monica. Just eat, drink and repeat.

Stop #1 – Start your taco eating engine at Border Grill for The Yucatan Pork Taco featuring pork that is slow-roasted in a banana leaf before it’s served on a handmade corn tortilla with pineapple jicama salsa. The meat just melts in your mouth with the perfect amount of tenderness. We paired it up with the Route 43 cocktail with spicy jalapeño-infused tequila, passion fruit, lime and agave syrup.

Out of all the different tortillas I tried during this crawl, Border Grill was simply my favourite. This restaurant is where I will forever bring out-of-town friends for a sampling of LA tacos + great margaritas. The food never disappoints, I love the casual atmosphere and they will also be running a slew of specials for Cinco de Mayo with gourmet $5 tacos + tequila flights.

Mercado-Santa-Monica-Taco-Crawl

Stop #2 – We headed directly across the street to Mercado to sample their Gringa Taco with spit-roasted pastor, oaxaca, onions, cilantro, chile de arbol salsa, avocado salsa served up on a flour tortilla. I loved all the toppings and the duo of salsas going on here in this hearty serving of a taco. I had to start pacing myself here – we had many more tacos to eat!

We paired this up with a Spicy Cucumber Margarita made with silver tequila and house jalapeño purée. This cocktail is no joke. It is SPICY. However, the cucumber is nice and cooling – just get ready for the heat!

Loteria-Grill-Taco-Crawl-Santa-Monica

Stop #3 – We walked around the corner to Third Street Promenade to Loteria Grill for a taco tasting of their best of the best. I started with a Classic Margarita because it had already been five minutes since my last margarita and we were clearly on a roll here. The drink was light, refreshing with the perfect balance of lime, salt and tequila without knocking me to the floor – which I appreciate.

I was most excited to try The Papa Con Rajas – a potato taco with roasted poblano peppers topped with salsa verde, onion, cilantro and queso fresco. If you love mashed potatoes and you love tacos – this is your dream right here. My second favourite was the Huachinango Estilo Ensenada – a beer battered fish taco made with red snapper and then topped with shredded cabbage, chipotle-avocado aioli and fresh pico. Make sure to also try their Carne Deshebrada – made with braised beef that is then shredded and their Carnitas en Salsa Morita with a spicy chile morita sauce for a kick. (more…)

A Dreamy Patio Dinner at Michael’s – Santa Monica

Shrimp-Goat-Cheese-Pizza

Looking for an incredible all-night Happy Hour in Santa Monica?

I’ve been suggesting Michael’s non-stop to all my friends who work late or have a crazy commute home. This local bistro features top rate apps and happy hour specials with beer, cocktails and wine ranging from $5-8. Happy Hour runs from 5 PM to close  SIX nights a week. It’s a steal and a hidden gem located on Third Street just beyond where the promenade ends and across from the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Here are a few of my favourites from a recent tasting I attended:

The Shrimp + Goat Cheese Pizza ($14) – This was a nice, light pizza to get our appetites wet with shrimp, goat cheese, fontina cheese, bell peppers and red onion. The crust had a nice satisfying crunch to it and the dough itself was still chewy. The mix of all the different ingredients played quite well together and it’s not often I see a shrimp pizza on the menu.

Pork-Belly-Tacos-Michael's-Santa-Monica

The Braised Pork Belly Tacos ($12) is served up with a homemade jalapeno relish, avocado cream and cilantro. This was one of my favourite appetizers of the bunch. The pork belly was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The relish provided a bit of heat and the crema countered it well. (more…)

The Independence – Santa Monica

The-Independence-Tavern

I drove past Santa Monica Place recently and noticed that Buddha’s Belly across the street had officially been replaced with a hip looking tavern called The Independence.

I was definitely intrigued, so when I received an invite to their media tasting just a week later – I jumped at the opportunity to get an inside look of this local gastropub with a California twist. Think less heavy pub grub, and more light and fresh food made with seasonal ingredients.

Here are my favourite items from the menu tasting at The Independence in Santa Monica:

Blood-Orange-Cocktail-The-Independence

I love being able to take advantage of blood oranges when they are in season. I chose the cocktail, Sawtelle ($12) made with citron vodka, kumquats, freshly-squeezed blood orange, homemade honey-ginger syrup and curtis lime bitters. If you’re looking for artisanal cocktails in Santa Monica where your mixologist uses fresh juices and homemade syrups – you’ve landed in the right place.

The cocktails have been created by Vincenzo Marianella of Copa D’Oro just a few steps away in Santa Monica from The Independence.

Oysters-Santa-Monica

Our tasting started out with a board of Oysters ($15) topped with generous bulbs of smoked salmon caviar, freshly grated horseradish and a few cubes of apple for a slight crunch. (more…)