Guide To LA: Favorite Restaurants For Dinner

If you follow my blog, then my enthusiasm for food shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, discovering new restaurants has become a serious pastime of mine since moving to LA five years ago. I love receiving restaurant recommendations from others, so I thought I’d share a few of my personal favorites as a resource for any local readers or visitors who might be planning a trip to the city. There are an overwhelming amount of great options, so I’ve narrowed this post down by meal category and location. Here are five of my favorite dinner spots on the westside:

The Tasting Kitchen - Venice, CA

The Tasting Kitchen: If I had to pick my all-time favorite restaurant in LA, it would probably be The Tasting Kitchen. You can expect a seasonal farm-to-table menu made with the finest ingredients. You can’t go wrong with any of their entrees, but their handmade pasta dishes are my personal favorite (particularly their “Spaghetti Pomodoro”), and their gnocco fritto with burrata appetizer is not to be missed. They’ve also got a great cocktail menu and wine list to enjoy while you wait for your meal. And if celebrity sightings are your thing, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve seen everyone from Lauren Conrad to Drew Barrymore.

Sugar Fish - Santa Monica, CA

Sugar Fish: I’ve written about Sugar Fish before, but it’s worth mentioning again. The concept is simple: highest-quality fish. Unlike most sushi chains, you won’t find fancy rolls and condiments, but you won’t miss them because the fish stands alone. Trust me when I say that it’s truly some of the best sushi you’ll ever eat. Or better yet, just order their appropriately named “Trust Me” off of the menu to see for yourself.

Blue Plate Oysterette - Santa Monica, CA

Blue Plate Oysterette: It may be located in Santa Monica, but Blue Plate Oysterette is filled with East Coast charm. It’s small, but cozy, and their menu is just as impressive as their beachfront location. I usually begin with their grilled oysters or decadent lobster mac and cheese, followed by an entree of linguini with clams (seen here). Still, no matter how full I am, I always leave room for their key lime pie. For the ultimate dining experience, time your reservation with the sunset and make sure to request an outside table. They even provide blankets if it gets too cool.

ROC Kitchen - West LA

ROC Kitchen: My first experience with soup dumplings began with a college study abroad program in Hong Kong, so needless to say, the bar was set high from the get-go. ROC Kitchen is one of the few restaurants that captures the authenticity of the cuisine I experienced overseas. Their soup dumplings alone will keep you coming back (the pork being my favorite), but their fried rice is a close second. Din Tai Fung is another great option if you find yourself on the eastside, but I prefer the convenience, ambiance and wait time of ROC.

Tsujita - West LA

Tsujita: If you prefer ramen over dumplings, then head next door to ROC’s neighbor, Tsujita, for some of the best ramen that LA has to offer. Because the soup can be so rich in flavor, I prefer the tsukemen style (where the noodles are served in a separate bowl from the soup), because it allows you to control the ratio of each bite.

If you live in LA or have any dinner recommendations that I didn’t include, please feel free to share in the comments below!

P.S. – You can check out my favorite spots to grab a drink in this post.

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Madewell

Dressed In Madewell I Adorned With Love

Tee: Madewell (similar here and here), Skirt: Madewell, Shoes: Madewell, Purse: J.Crew (25% off with code: LOTSTOSHOP), Necklace: Madewell, Bracelets: Madewell (on sale), Earrings: Madewell, Sunglasses: TOMS, Lip balm: bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Color in “Rose Passion”

I’m always shocked when I come across someone who isn’t familiar with the Madewell brand. Because they’ve become such a staple in my wardrobe, it’s difficult to imagine a time when I dressed without them. Ever since they emerged under J.Crew’s umbrella a few years ago, I’ve been hooked. They make some of the most practical basics out there, while seamlessly fusing trends with classics. And apart from just nailing the aesthetic, they always deliver reliable quality (hence the fitting name), so their pieces can be worn for years to come. As a result, unintentionally finding myself in head-to-toe Madewell is not an infrequent occurrence these days, which is exactly what happened here.

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Short-Sleeve Sweater

Short-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With Love

Sweater: Madewell, Jeans: Rag & Bone (currently 25% off with code: SPRING25), Heels: Kenneth Cole, Jacket: Zara (similar here), Purse: J.Crew (currently 25% off with code: LOTSTOSHOP), Bracelets: Madewell (on sale), Earrings: Madewell, Lip balm: bareMinerals Pop of Passion Lip Color in “Rose Passion”

I’ve come to appreciate basic tees more than ever lately. They’re so easy, versatile, and just plain comfortable. However, as much as I love them, they can feel a bit casual depending on the occasion, so I was thrilled when I stumbled across this short-sleeved sweater from Madewell that offers the same ease as a tee, but with a more polished feel. I put it on for dinner while visiting my boyfriend in San Francisco this past weekend, and added some heels to dress it up for drinks afterwards. I have a feeling I’ll be wearing it frequently, so it only made sense to order a second one in black.

Short-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With LoveShort-Sleeve Sweater I Adorned With Love

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Transition To Spring

Transition To Spring I Adorned With Love

Jacket: Zara (similar here and here), Sweater: Bella Luxx c/o, Tank: Bella Luxx c/o, Jeans: DSTLD c/o, Boots: Steve Madden, Bracelet: Madewell

This may sound counterintuitive, given that it’s officially spring, but I’m still in a neutrals mood. After a winter filled with muted clothing, I usually jump at the chance to add color back into my routine, but that hasn’t been the case these last few weeks. Fortunately, many of my favorite neutral tones look just as great in the form of pastels, so I’m easing into the season with softer colors like peach, white and blush. I’m heading out to the desert for Coachella in a couple of weeks where embracing color is almost inevitable, but until then I’ll likely be found in some form of this combination.

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Huckleberry’s Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

Huckleberry's Blueberry Cornmeal Cake I Adorned With Love

Los Angeles has no shortage of delicious restaurants, but if there’s one place I frequent more than any other, it’s Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe. My mom loves it just as much as I do, and she regularly finds excuses to “visit me” so we can catch up over their savory breakfast dishes, flavorful sandwiches, and incredible pastries (seriously, some of the best ever). Fortunately, Huckleberry owner Zoe Nathan recently compiled all of her secrets into a cookbook, and I pre-ordered a copy for each of us so that we could recreate some of Zoe’s magic at home (I figured this should hold us over between visits). We got together last week to bake their signature Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, one of our personal favorites. I wasn’t sure it was possible to capture the flavors quite like Zoe does, but it was just as delicious as the original. Each bite delivers a perfect harmony of flavors, and the cornmeal base balances the sweetness you might find in traditional cake mix, so it’s the perfect complement to your morning coffee.

Ingredients

3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 3 tbsp sugar, plus 1 tbsp for topping
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
4 1/2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tbsp whole plain yogurt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp ricotta
1 cup fresh blueberries (*Add 1-1/3 cups if you prefer more blueberries)

Instructions

1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line and grease a 10-in/25-cm round cake pan.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, 3/4 cup + 3 tbsp sugar, and salt on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.
3. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the canola oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pause mixing and add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and ricotta. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Don’t overmix!
4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, top with blueberries, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan.
5. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Gently pull the parchment from every nook and cranny of the cake, being careful not to break the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate.

*This cake is best served the day it’s made but keeps, tightly wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 2 days.

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

Casual Weekend Wear I Adorned With Love

Sweater: H&M, Tank: Bella Luxx, Jacket: Similar here, Jeans: Wellbinder, Shoes: Keds, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban, Bracelet: Madewell

This past weekend was unusually busy. I spent all day Saturday attending Create + Cultivate, a conference filled with an inspiring line up of speakers, ranging from fashion bloggers like Aimee Song, to Instagram celebrities like The Fat Jew (who by the way, is even funnier than his Instagram leads on, if that’s possible). It was incredibly energizing to hear the success stories of so many young entrepreneurs, but by the time the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. event wrapped up, I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home, take off my heels and crawl into bed. I rarely wear heels for that length of time, so by the next morning, I couldn’t contemplate anything but sneakers. I pulled out my Keds and some stretchy denim for brunch on Sunday, and added a few relaxed layers on top. The light wash gives these jeans a casual feel that looks great with a loose sweater, so they’ve become a great option when I just want something with comfort and ease. Although I ordered them in my usual size, I love the idea sizing up for more of a “boyfriend” fit, too.

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One Of Those Dresses

Column Tank Dress by Bella Luxx I Adorned With Love

Dress: Bella Luxx c/o, Jacket: Sheinside c/o, Shoes: Steven by Steve Madden, Bracelet: Gorjana c/o, Lipstick: Marc Jacobs Kiss Pop in “Burgundy Berry,” Nail Polish: Essie in “Velvet Voyeur”

Finding floor length dresses that don’t scream “Jessica McClintock meets high school prom” can be a challenge, so when I find one that I like, I’m ecstatic. Bella Luxx recently came to the rescue with this gorgeous maxi dress. It’s even more elegant in person, and has already solved a number of my upcoming wardrobe dilemmas surrounding wedding season. I’ve been playing around with other ways to style it so I can maximize its wear; this time drawing inspiration from the python print by combining it with a leather jacket and mules for an edgier look. I’ve also been dressing it down with sandals for more casual occasions, like brunch and running errands. The styling options are endless, and because it’s timelessly elegant, I know it’s one of those dresses that can be worn for years to come.

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Coffee Gift Box

Coffee Gift Box I Adorned With Love

It’s been a while since my last DIY project, so I thought I’d cover something I recently put together that could serve as inspiration for a variety of occasions. I was excited to attend a bridal shower for my boyfriend’s sister over the weekend. One of the things she and her fiancé had registered for was a drip pot coffee maker. Even though receiving gifts from a registry is obviously welcomed, the gifting process has always seemed impersonal to me. The surprise element is essentially non-existent, so I wanted to add some additional items that felt a little more thoughtful and unexpected. I used a reusable wooden crate as the foundation, and centered the rest of the items around the drip pot to keep with the theme, including things like fresh biscotti and coffee beans from a nearby coffee shop, and monogrammed mugs for the bride and groom to be. Assembling the box was such a fun and easy process and could work for a variety of occasions, from bridal showers to house warming gifts. Here’s what I used to make it:

Coffee Gift Box I Adorned With LoveCoffee Gift Box I Adorned With LoveCoffee Gift Box I Adorned With LoveCoffee Gift Box I Adorned With LoveCoffee Gift Box I Adorned With Love

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Spring Wish List

It’s the first week of March, and with daylight savings ahead this weekend, spring is officially around the corner. From beach days to al fresco dining, I can’t wait for longer days filled with endless opportunities to soak up the sun. Naturally, I’m dreaming of a wardrobe to go along, so I’ve turned to my favorite resource to gather some inspiration: Pinterest. I keep my fashion boards organized by season, so my Spring and Summer boards have been receiving extra attention lately. Fortunately one of my favorite retailers, ShopBop, is having one of their biggest sales of the year from now through March 7th, so I can put some of my inspiration into play without breaking the bank. Here are a few of the things on my Pinterest wish list (a couple of which are actually available on ShopBop):

Button Down Flannel  

Rails Button Down Flannel

When you think flannel, you might think fall, but flannels are a perfect transitional piece for spring. They can be thrown over dresses and shirts for an extra layer, and look great tied around your waist over a pair of denim shorts. I’ve mentioned my love for Rails flannels before, so I plan on adding some new patterns to my collection, including this one pictured above.

 

Distressed Denim Shorts

One Teaspoon Denim Shorts

Denim shorts are a must for spring and summer. I’ve owned a variety of styles throughout the years, but I’m especially partial to the distressed look lately. I love how relaxed and effortless they feel - exactly what warmer days are all about. One Teaspoon (pictured above) makes the best in my opinion.

 

Beach Cover Ups

Beach Cover Up

I’m admittedly lazy when it comes to what to wear over a bathing suit, but these adorable cover ups are motivating me to change that. And let’s be honest, they’re just plain easier than most alternatives.

 

Soft Leather Jacket

Leather Jacket With A Maxi Dress

Everyone knows leather jackets are a winter staple, but they’re just as appropriate in the spring. While I love a classic moto jacket, I tend to veer towards the softer, draped styles since they’re lighter in weight and can easily be thrown over a maxi or mini dress. I have one in black that I wear constantly, and I’m eager to add a lighter color that will complement the warmer seasons.

 

Romper

Black Romper

It doesn’t get easier than a romper, which is how I justify adding another to my ever-growing collection. There’s virtually no styling required because they always look simply chic on their own.

 

*If you plan on taking advantage of ShopBop’s sale, make sure to use code BIGEVENT15 at checkout!

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Coated Jeans And Cozy Sweaters

Black coated skinny jeans with a cozy sweater I Adorned With Love

Sweater: Urban Outfitters, Tee: Madewell, Jeans: DSTLD c/o, Boots: Steve Madden, Purse: JustFab, Bracelet: Madewell, Earrings: Madewell

I wasn’t kidding in last week’s post when I said I picked this shirt up in multiple colors. It’s the first thing I grab on the weekends lately, because it can be layered under almost anything, making it wearable no matter what the weather may bring. The temperature took a plunge this weekend, coupled with the most rain we’ve seen all year, so I layered this cozy sweater on top and brought out a new pair of coated denim jeans to embrace the chilly air. These are my first pair of coated denim (also known as “waxed denim”) and I’m thrilled to add them to my jean collection. They are a perfect balance between leather leggings and standard black skinny jeans, so they’re a great option if you’re looking for a little bit of edge while still playing it safe. Most of the coated denim I had tried in the past had an awkward fit, so I was convinced the material wasn’t flattering, but this pair by DSTLD proved me wrong. They’ve got just enough stretch to make them not only flattering, but so comfortable, too.

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