Tag Archives: Santa Monica

Highway 1 California Road Trip Guide

Highway 1 California Road Trip Guide

A sponsored post.

Planning a summer road trip?

One of our favourite adventures is the drive along the California coast between San Francisco to Los Angeles. Paul and I flew into SFO and were able to hire a car that we later dropped off in LA at the end of our trip. It’s a great way to get on the ground and make stops whenever you like.

But what should you see? What shouldn’t you miss?

Here are 6 unique stops for your Highway 1 California Road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles! (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…)

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…)

The Aussie Pie Kitchen – Santa Monica

Tiger-Stack-Aussie-Pie-Kitchen

Have you ever eaten an Aussie pie?

When I noticed a sign for pie shop going up in my neighbourhood last fall, it instantly piqued my interest. A new pie shop??? Sign me up! I recently dropped into the store to investigate further…

Owner + Pie-oneer Nick Bishop is originally from Adelaide, Australia and wanted to bring the savoury pies he loved back home to his adopted city of Los Angeles. So he launched the Aussie Pie Kitchen on Main Street in Santa Monica last October. This quick-serve eatery features homemade fork-in Aussie pies (which they’ve trademarked), fresh brewed coffee, savoury breakfast rolls and classic sides  called ‘stacks’ like their White Stack which features garlic mashed potatoes and creamy gravy or their Green Stack, made of mushy peas, butter, mint and shallots.

The clientele is a mix of Commonwealth expats who are well-educated in a proper savoury pie and Aussie pie converts who want a break from their pressed green juice and are looking for something comforting and a bit more indulgent. And if you’re going to indulge – you might as well do it right.

Pies_Coffee

Growing up in Canada, I ate A LOT of meat pies and sausage rolls because of the British influence on our culture. It was only after moving to the US did I realize that grocery stores don’t casually sell sausage rolls in thr frozen food section like they do back home. You really have to dig around and look for a specialty store to get your fix.

Traditionally, an Aussie hand pie is street food – like a bacon-wrapped hot dog in Hollywood. However, Bishop wanted to elevate this Aussie comfort food into something heartier and eats with a fork and knife. As a result, the Tiger Stack was born. (more…)

Get Fit: Exhale Spa Barre + Yoga

Exhale-Venice-barre

Welcome to GET FIT! A new weekly column where we feature interesting workouts and fun ways to stay active, outside of the usual gym. In case you missed it, we talked about this surf workout last week. This week, I get my yoga and barre on at Exhale Spa.

I recently bought a Gilt City deal for Exhale Spa and used my 10 class pass at their Venice, California location. I had my eye on Exhale for awhile, but it does run a bit more expensive than other yoga and barre studios in my neighbourhood.

It was totally worth it.

I have been to yoga studios where you’re so squished together, you’re almost smelling the person’s feet in front of you during vinyasa. At Exhale Venice there was a ton of space for each person to spread out and you never smacked into anyone during a sun salutation. The studio is full of natural light and open space. My class pass included small towels and complimentary tea at the end of every session. (more…)