When we began planning for our trip to California, I got really excited about finding good restaurants we could visit. To me, a good meal is just as exciting as a new pair of shoes! My entire life, I have had a passion for good food. Up until a few years ago I was 60+ pounds heavier than I am now, and that inspired a change in what “good food” was going to be for me. My eating habits have evolved to more organic, fresh meals with beautiful plating. I am a Top Chef junkie, so I knew that I would not go to California and hit up the closest McD’s.
Our first night in California, we were so tired from flying across the country, pjs and room service called our names.
I split this tasty grilled shrimp and spinach flatbread with Nolan. He was so tired that he fell asleep with a piece of it in his hand.
When we woke up the next morning, Nolan started asking for “cake cakes,” so we asked the front desk clerks where to get a good breakfast. They suggested the Coffee Company which was located right down the street.
Everyone, except for me, had organic pancakes with maple syrup and turkey bacon.
I opted for this huge creamed spinach stuffed omelet and was so stuffed half way through, I had to take a break.
The restaurant really impressed me when they served us freshly squeezed orange juice. We were so full, we had to walk back to our hotel and rest a bit!
For lunch later that day, we asked our favorite front desk clerk, Toi, where to grab a quick bite before heading to Chinatown. She suggested a place she frequents, a sandwich shop located right outside of the hotel called Mendeaco Farms. They use local seasonal products, so their ingredients are always fresh and organic.
I split the Farm Club (with smashed avocado and herb aioli) and kale Caesar salad (with butter lettuce and wheatberries) with my sister and Nolan.
We grow kale in our garden, so I am really excited to recreate this dish at home. What really impressed me what the drink machine.
They had a Boylan soda machine that does not use high fructose corn syrup and serves sodas flavored with essential oils and cane sugar. I normally just drink water, but I had to try the Creamsicle, and I had a lot of refills!
For dinner we ate at place called the City Tavern.
It is like a picture from a Restoration Hardware catalog with its caramel leather couches and Edison light fixtures. We actually ate there several times during our trip we enjoyed it so much. We chose to sit at the couches and let our kids roam while we ate.
I ordered a quinoa black bean burger with avocados on a fresh hot bun. I tried the crispy bacon balsamic Brussels sprouts and ate several orders during the trip. They were the best Brussels sprouts I have ever eaten, and I plan on recreating the recipe in our kitchen.
We ate in Beverly Hills the day of my sister-in-law’s birthday for lunch and dinner. Because we were going to be sightseeing and walking around all day, we opted for a light lunch at the Corner Bakery.
I chose to get a cup of chicken tortilla soup and a southern western salad and black bean quinoa salad combo. Spicy food is my comfort food, and this hit the spot! After a long day of walking, we ended up finding this cute Italian place on Melrose called Maison Richard.
We all ate different pasta dishes but my favorite was Derrek’s mushroom and chicken pasta with a puff pastry, almost like a chicken pot pie. To celebrate Tamara’s birthday, we all ordered different chocolate desserts and stuffed our faces.
Nolan had the best time standing by the dessert display and even conned the owner into a few cookies.
The last day of our trip, we headed to Santa Monica. The weather was gorgeous and the temperature was perfect, so we walked the promenade and shopped. This little dive called Barney’s Bakery caught our eye, and we went inside.
The décor is unbelievable, and you would never expect the amount of detail they put into it. Someone took pictures from magazines and made a collage over the entire inside. They are known for their pizza, so that’s what we tried. We got a pepperoni pizza and were not disappointed. The sauce was almost sugary sweet, and the crust was perfectly crispy. We had to walk the pier to let our food settle after eating that huge pizza.
There are so many restaurants I want to go back to and so many I want to try. When you go on a trip, ask the locals where they love to eat and try a item they suggest. I also turn to Instagram for my food questions. You can hashtag an area or ask other people what they like to eat in the city you’re visiting. I hope you try one of these restaurants if you are ever near them.