It’s my absolute FAVORITE food time of year in Los Angeles. Winter Dine LA (which IMHO is superior to the summer version). There are more participants, more menu offerings and more options per course. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. I haven’t done any actual numerical research. But I do generally find that I am much happier with my January dining choices (and yes, there are many vendors who only participate in Winter).
Below are my top picks for this go-round, including a peak of my first dinner, from last night at Upper West.
3 courses (including dessert!)/ $40 dinner/Santa Monica
Could you be excited to eat the $20 lunch menu at Upper West during Dine LA? Sure. But you’d be missing out if you skipped DINNER!
I went last night, and am prepared to say confidently that THIS dinner tops my list of ALL the DINE LA meals I have had in the past 3 years. Yup. My boyfriend who was with me agrees that this was an exceptional meal! This is also a good time to remind you to do DINE LA with a friend or significant other. Aside from the fact that food is a great bonding experience, it also lets you pick more options per course if you’re a good food sharer—so you can try more things! See, totally practical.
What do you need to get here? Hands down the Coffee Crusted Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin. This is one of the top meat dishes I’ve ever had. In my life! I was completely taken by surprise–this is definitely the ‘dark horse’ candidate that came up and bit me from behind (and I’m glad that it did!). We also shared the Short Rib, which is would certainly eat again. It’s just that the pork, with the apple and jalepeno chutney and the goat cheese potatoes (which were not recognizable as anything but a magical pile of some secret side dish from another dimension) is the perfect flavor combo. Seriously. You NEED this.
We also had the lamb crepes (good, but a little too gamey tasting on the lamb) the burrata salad (solid!), and shared the carrot cake ice cream sandwich (do yourself a favor and get this one!) and the bread pudding (one of my top 3 bread puddings ever). All around, great choices for each course, and one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever had (in case you didn’t get that before). The service was superb, and I can’t wait to go back. I think Upper West may now officially have taken the place of Baco Mercat as my current favorite spot in Los Angeles. Apologies for the poor photo quality, but it was kinda dark in there and I since I’ve just scooped Andy up, I don’t want to freak him out too badly yet by making him light my foodie shoots with his phone flashlight. That will have to wait til at least Dine LA date #2.
I also learned while I was there that they have Happy Hour daily, and all night on Mondays! Plus a prix fix menu option every Weds night $36 for 3 courses. Well worth it!
Faith and Flower (Modern California)
3 Courses (including dessert)/$25 lunch/$50 dinner/Downtown
After being blown away at the opening of Terrine LA , I can’t WAIT to finally get over to Faith & Flower (same owners). And for those on a more modest budget the $25 lunch offering (also 3 courses) looks very promising as well. If you can get over there for lunch (or ‘mysteriously disappear’ from work for a ‘work lunch’) I would highly recommend this place. Haven’t been yet, but have heard nothing but amazing reviews from all my favorite foodie friends.
Da Pasquale Trattoria (Italian)
3 Courses (including dessert)/$30 dinner/Beverly Hills
I’ve been here before and I would gladly go again! The most authentic Italian food (and atmosphere) I’ve experienced outside of Italy! Make sure you make a reservation! Once they are seated for the evening (as per usual in Italy) you are expected to enjoy your evening, and they don’t turn tables over much. Once you’re there for dinner, you’re free to stay for the evening and enjoy the food and conversation. Well worth it! Add a glass of their Pinot Noir or a Tuscan Red for about $10.
Mud Hen Tavern (American)
3 Courses (including desser)/$25 lunch/$30 dinner/Hollywood
Though I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Susan Feniger’s STREET, the offerings at Mud Hen Tavern are more up my alley (and more diverse as far as options). Might have to go for lunch AND dinner so I can sample the lemon poppyseed pancakes AND Wood Roasted Pork with Biscuit.
Badmaash Indian Gastropub (Indian/Mexican Fusion)
3 Courses (including dessert)/$30 dinner/Downtown
This spot has been on my list for a while. While their Tikka Masala Tacos are not currently on the menu (they have been swapped out for Tikka Masala Poutine—everyone is doing poutine now, apparently)—but I love Indian food, and I still want eat here anyways.
Go forth and tell me what is GOOD people. I’m counting on you to help me cover all these spots (and others that I have yet to cross off my list!)