From SINGLE DINER
I’ve got three lovers right now—each to fit a different mood. One is for those late nights when I really have to satisfy an urge, another is for when I’m feeling a little wilder and need some spice, and the other is for pure unadulterated passion. Last week, I fit them all in and totally overindulged.
Tuesday was my late night lover- Norm’s. I don’t really admit to going to Norm’s (although I guess I am now) but Norm’s has menu items I can’t get anywhere else like mozzarella sticks and French dip. I like laminated menus, shiny plastic chairs that swivel, and name-tag wearing waitresses with skirts a bit too short. And I love the satisfaction of a meal for $9.99 with not only a steak and potato but soup, salad, and bread. Now that’s a deal.
Norm’s is close to my office so I went I for the lunch rush to try the “Southern inspired menu.” Jackpot! A Catfish, hush puppies, cheese grits combo! God had smiled down on me. Catfish is my Southern girl favorite and I love to smother it with ketchup like I did when I was little. Grits are number two on my list of Southern delicacies. And cheese grits….Lord just take me now. It wasn’t a gourmet experience, I could go on about the things that weren’t Southern enough, but I won’t. I went there for exactly the experience I got—simple, straightforward food, served in a diner (albeit Flinstones-inspired) restaurant with a colorful and diverse clientele. My dad would have been on cloud nine.
Saturday night was Lotería Grill. I typically go to the Farmer’s Market location once a week but wanted to try the new sit down restaurant in Hollywood. I really believe this is the best Mexican restaurant in town. The new place has exactly the same menu as the counter at the Grove but also includes a great bar, with every Tequila known to man, free chips and salsa (FM charges extra) and the most amazing helado (ice cream) I have had since living in Los Angeles.
I always start with the tortilla soup, then some carnitas or enchiladas suiza. With its creamy consistency, the soup, topped with manchego cheese, dried poblano, avocado slice and tostado garnish, beats anything else I know in LA. If I just want a snack, the carnitas work well and I love the originality of the meat combos to choose from…I recommend trying the sampler to really get the gamut. For Saturday, since the restaurant had the tequila bar, I downed a margarita and then tried the magical pina colada helado. I couldn’t help myself-I loudly proclaimed that everyone at the restaurant should try this stuff. I told at least 4 strangers and the bartender. I’m not kidding, that stuff is magical.
Sunday afternoon was Pizzeria Mozza. This place ranks as one of my favorite restaurants bar none! The pizzas live up to the hype, basically because the crust is truly extraordinary (thank you Nancy Silverton) and the topppings are so well balanced, nothing overwhelms anything else―it’s a melody of outstanding ingredients. Pizza aside though, in my opinion, the Mozzarella Caprese with homemade buffalo mozzarella, sunned tomatoes and high quality olive oil is the best thing on the menu. You can’t believe you are eating something so sublime and simple. Top that all off with a great Italian wine and I smile the entire time I am eating.
While my lovers don’t help me keep my waist line in check, they do leave me with a smile on my face, thinking about the next time I’ll be able to see them again.
The Hungry Cat is by far one one of my favorite restaurants in LA and I think has the best brunch in town. Just one bite of that pecan sticky bun with the smoky nueske bacon wrapped around it is pure joy. Combined with their new french press coffee and the orange juice hand squeezed and from oranges at the nearby farmer's market, What a morning. On the raw bar side the oysters are as fresh as the come with nice options from the east and west coast and the best steamed shrimp I've had. Also, for those who don't love fish, the blue cheese/avocado and nueske burger on brioch bun is amazing. I wish they would bring back some hearty soups and a few non-fish options and I wish the dessert menu was stronger but I love everything about this place. Not to mention the service is terrific, especially if you go as much as I do.