If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I spent the last week in Los Angeles. I had an audition and some meetings, but my main reason for going was to see my best friend, Leah. Leah and I met during our senior year of high school when we both visited the University of Miami to audition for the theatre program. We both got in, lived together for all four years of school, and the rest is history!
Bi-coastal best friendship isn’t always easy, but we make it work through lots of Skype calls and silly cat videos. We’ve seen each other through a LOT over the years, and I am endlessly grateful for her. And, endlessly grateful for our time together, which is never enough!
To bring it all back to food (like you do): Leah, like me, loves to eat, cook and explore. Her vices of choice are avocado, cheese and the honey yogurt from Trader Joe’s. I fondly remember her making noodle kugel in our college kitchen at 2 am “just because,” and I’m convinced she survived junior year solely on French baguettes. She’s always down for an adventure, and when I’m in town we go on a ton of food excursions. Whether it was an old favorite or a new discovery, here’s some highlights from our week together:
Sqirl is my non-negotiable I’m-in-town-so-we’re-going meal. Basically: think of the best brunch you’ve ever had and multiply it by 1,000. Everything is locally sourced, made with care and absolutely delicious. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the French Toast and the Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl (add sausage!) are unmissable.
FREE RANGE LA
I’ve been sensibly stalking Free Range on Instagram, and then sensibly stalked them all over LA until I was able to nail down one of their breakfast sandwiches. This chicken sausage, egg, cheddar, avocado biscuit combo? Worth it!
A note: don’t bother following them on Twitter or checking their website for the truck location. Instagram is your best, most-current bet!
BLACK TOP COFFEE
The award for Best Avocado Toast I’ve Ever Had goes to Blacktop. I mean c’mon, just look at that yolk porn!
This tiny shop tucked in the downtown Arts District has great coffee and other small bites, like miso-caramel Kouign Aman pastries and the insanely good muesli bowl, topped with homemade granola and candied kumquats. Plus, you can sit underneath their gorgeous leafy canopy while you eat!
With so much trendy food going on right now, it’s good to know there’s a place that actually backs it up with quality, tasty ingredients. Milk is a dessert bar, but Instagram-famous (yes, that’s a thing now) for it’s macaron ice cream sandwiches.
I’ve tried the red velvet (pictured), the Thai iced tea and the Fruity Pebbles. Yes, they’re beautiful (HELLO) but delicious, too. Just make sure you eat them right away, they melt fast!
Another staple of my visits. If you haven’t been, go with the sampler: six mini versions of their most popular tacos. Or, just pick randomly from the menu and go full-size! They make their tortillas by hand and to order, and to date they’re the best I’ve ever had. Don’t miss out on the cold horchata either, it’s as authentic as it gets.
I’ve never been a huge Tex Mex fan, but Home State may have converted me with two words: breakfast tacos. This spot is in Los Feliz, and super popular because it’s A) cheap, B) authentic and C) delicious. Tacos are only around $3.50 a piece, so go ahead: go wild.
SALT & STRAW
Yeah yeah, NYC has great artisan ice cream too, but I always look forward to Salt & Straw. Why? Its flavors are truly unique and always surprising. My favorites are the Roasted Strawberry & Toasted White Chocolate and the Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, but like many of the places I’ve talked about, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. They offer unlimited samples (really!) so don’t be afraid to try some of the off-the-beaten path flavors – like Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese!
Did I mention earlier that Leah and her husband Jared are also great cooks? Aside from our adventures in the city, I was lucky enough to share in a ton of beautiful meals in their Solano Canyon home during my visit. Check out this spread they made for my last weekend in town!
Those, my friends, are LAVENDER. CHOCOLATE. SCONES. I may or may not have stolen one (or three) for the plane ride back, which consisted of me…and everyone who’d been at Coachella. Sigh. Can’t win ’em all!
Till next time, LA!
Have any unmissable spots I should try on my next visit? Leave a comment below!