There are some dishes that you will always undoubtedly crave year-round: your late-night In N' Out Double Double, a Trust Me from Sugarfish, and short rib tacos from the Kogi truck. But arguably one of the best features of the LA dining scene is its focus on seasonality. Though fresh produce is available year round, and we basically soak up the sun for 12 months straight, the city's best Chefs still insist on crafting their menus based on the best local ingredients of the moment. So when the next season rolls around, we're always excited to see what creative new arrivals have landed on the menus of our favorite eateries. Below, 3 of our favorite go-tos and their new menu additions.
1. Estrella, West Hollywood
This consistent West Hollywood staple has really elevated the Sunset Strip dining scene during its tenure along the tourist-laden street. It always churns out fresh, tasty food and fun cocktails in a beautiful setting. For Spring, they launched some new choices on their lunch menu, including the Spanish Salad-- a lovely, fresh bowl with black beans, orange segments, avocado, and tortilla strips. They've also added more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, such the Tomato Bisque. But definitely don't miss their new sandwiches, like the cheesy Apple Chicken Melt, and my favorite, the ridiculously satisfying Caramelized Mushroom Grilled Cheese!
2. Shake Shack, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Century City
It's pretty astounding how quickly the Shake Shack empire has expanded across LA. With locations in Hollywood, West Hollywood, and at the new Century City mall, it's proved itself as more than just your average New York burger shack (no shade to In N Out-- that will always be my favorite). And what most people don't know if how much they source from local purveyors for their classic shakes and burgers, like Compartés chocolate. Though the burgers and chicken sandwiches will always be menu staples, every season they roll out new shakes. For Spring/Summer, they partnered with LA Pastry Chef Nicole Rucker to create The Golden Shake, a blend of vanilla frozen custard, salted honey butter sauce, and finely crushed cornflakes topped with whipped cream. Also on their seasonal shake list is the Brownie Batter, Red Velvet, and Cinnamon Dulce de Leche.
3. Belcampo Meat Co., Santa Monica
Belcampo might be known for their burger counter at Downtown's Grand Central Market, but their full-fledged Santa Monica restaurant is where some of the real magic happens. And not to overshadow their luxe meats, but their bar is one of my favorite places for an upscale drink in the neighborhood. The bar bites are always a good idea, like their Sweet Chili Wings and Chips with Blue Cheese Dip. This season, they're changing up their cocktail menu, adding fresh, bright options to their usual line-up of Classics. A favorite included the Buck Owens, which is made with a base of Fiddlehead fern gin, carrot & lemon juice, L’orgeat, ginger, soda water, and fennel pollen. I'm usually not a lover of carrot juice, but this did taste like an alcoholic cold-pressed juice (in a good way) and was not carrot-y at all. I'll have to come back and try the others, like the Chess Park with Vodka, Chareau, lemon & lime juice, spring herb gastrique, cucumber, mint, pickled strawberry, soda water, and served long over ice.