LA's Restaurants vs NY's

Being complete foodies, the first thing the hubby and I enjoy doing when we're in a new area is to explore the city by doing a culinary tour. There's hardly a better way to experience a new city and its vibe then through its food. When it comes to dining out we are particularly fastidious and have certain expectations. Within the short time we've been exploring the Los Angeles area and trying out different restaurants, we're pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part, they are of equal footing as those in NY. The only downside is that most places close down early.

We found out from our real estate lady that West 3rd street nestled in between 'The Grove and The Beverly Center' (both places we've yet to explore...have heard a lot about them, especially The Grove's farmer's market) is apparently LA's happening place - a little strip lined with all types of restaurants. I was happy to see a familiar place that made me feel at home and that's the Magnolia Bakery. Have to go check it out one day. We have already eliminated quite a few places that we wouldn't go back to - that said, however, there are more winners then losers. So when our friends (who normally hold our recommendations in high regard) visit we won't be hesitant to bring them to the following new few favorite spots (like Cecconi's for one...) : 

Little Next Door...
We happened to find this place after a late night meeting and needed something to eat. It was one of the few places that was opened past 9:30pm. The moody ambiance of the patio lit by strings of light drew us in. The setting was pleasant - starting with the French baguettes/pastries in glass encasing inside the restaurant, to the warm colors and décor; being served by an actual French waiter on a breezy  summer night transported us straight to Paris.  And I'm pretty sure that the glass of Moscato may or may not have also contributed to that feeling as well. If you're looking for a romantic spot for a low-key anniversary celebration or date night, I'd definitely recommend this place.

This is another restaurant we accidentally found while driving on Culver Blvd (which happens to have a happening little strip of restaurants in the center of town).  If you're a ceviche lover as I am, you won't be disappointed with their version as seen here. As simple as you'd think ceviche would be to make, I've noticed that it's one of the hardest dishes for restaurants to get right. Kay 'n' Dave's version may not be the best, but it is good and better than most other places. Now, it's not fine dining, but a good place to chill outside for lunch. Their margarita options list is endless and loaded with tequila, so if you like strong drinks, you'll love it here. On Mondays they have $3 margaritas all day!  Oh, their fried ice cream isn't too shabby either.

Santa Monica:

If you're looking for that beach town mom and pop place to enjoy some good fresh seafood with great service you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend the lobster mac 'n' cheese. Very cheesy, full of big chunks of lobster drizzled in truffle oil...super yummy. The lobster roll is also amazing, and the Blue Point or Komodo oysters are fabulous. It's casual dining with a view of the ocean across the street. The décor is a mixed of quirk and beachy. If you don't mind close table seating, then you'll enjoy it. We often go for a late lunch right before dinner and totally avoid the wait and crowd.

I'm not big on steak, but BOA really cooks their filet mignon so good that it melts in your mouth. Their sides are so delish and pretty sizable. It's a romantic place where you get top-notch service. However, if you suffer with back pain, make sure to avoid sitting on those long bench seats they have against the walls...I find them very uncomfortable. But the overall experience is a great one.

Café Montana...
Now this café, is our ultimate favorite. We practically eat there almost every other day. The photos don't do the place justice. It's a must-see in person spot for sure. From the modern chic elegant décor, to the friendly service, it all contributes to the welcoming atmosphere transforming your dining experience from ordinary to extraordinary. I recommend the pumpkin ravioli. It's creamy, tasty and very filling. The food thus far has been consistent every time we've gone there. The owner is very accommodating and welcoming which makes the experience even much more pleasant.

After all, this is a big city...we still have to make our rounds and learn what the locals' favorites are.  I am sure there are plenty of hidden gems out there besides all the other top-notch restaurants on our list that we're still to hit. We'll update you  as we continue discovering these great places one week at a time. If you're a local Californian, please feel free to suggest your top spots on the blog.

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