This summer has been a whirlwind…and yes, since it’s still 80 degrees outside, I’m conflating mid-October with Summer. I also just got back from Hawaii, so all of that warmth and relaxation really warped my sense of time (I know…poor me). But with Fall around the corner, I’m settling back into my routines, which fortunately includes checking out new, fun places to eat around the city. In the last few months, I’ve gone to quite a few (and there are plenty more posts to come), but here were 4 of my recent favorites.
1. Paramount Coffee Project, Downtown LA
Paramount Coffee Project is a high-concept coffee-focused café with locations on Fairfax and ROW DTLA. As a frequent coffee shop goer, I’ve been meaning to check it out for awhile, but had the perfect excuse once I found out that they launched their food program at the DTLA location with renowned chef Ria Barbosa (SQIRL). The food program is an eclectic mix of Australian-inspired items (like their lamb sausage roll) and healthier, lighter fare. A few favorites included the Lentil Paté, which was a lentil and veggie take on a paté accompanied by crunchy bread— it was really tasty and had a surprising depth of flavor. I also really enjoyed the Uni Toast on Sourdough, which was rich and satisfying with the soft egg. Lightly dressed market herbs and veggies on top helped cut through the rich, briny flavors of the uni and egg. I would definitely recommend it for a light, casual lunch Downtown.
2. Severance, Melrose
Melrose Ave. has its fair share of drinking dens and upscale restaurants, but finding nice-yet-casual neighborhood joints to come back to for a good cocktail and light dinner bites is sometimes a challenge. Adding to the neighborhood scene, though, is Severance, which opened on Melrose in early September. Though the vintage glassware and champagne-sabering might seem a bit too high-end for your average night out, the restaurant serves an approachable array of shareable plates from Bavarian Pretzel Bites to flatbreads in addition to their fun sherry-based cocktails. To be honest, I’m not a huge sherry drinker, and the East India Negroni was maybe a bit too smoky for me. But I did enjoy the Aperitivo Julep, a light and minty drink that’s perfect for a warm day. In terms of the bites, the Bavarian Pretzel Bites were highly addictive with the “potato cheese,” as was the Crab and Avocado Toast. I really enjoyed their flatbreads as well, like the Spicy Sausage flatbread with provolone and calabrian chile.
3. Little Fatty, Mar Vista
As a new Westsider, I’m making a concerted effort to check out the local spots. Though I’m not living in Mar Vista, I will definitely drive an extra couple of minutes for noodles, wontons, and a good lunchbox. Little Fatty has been open in Mar Vista for almost two years (oh how time flies!), taking over the former Status Kuo space and situated next to Accomplice Bar. They have a small but mighty lunch menu of Taiwanese fare, and one favorite was their LunchBox, which came with a healthy dose of “Sunday gravy” (a stewed rice and pork dish), chicken, an egg roll, tea egg, and more. I also loved the XO Fatty Noodles, thin noodles formed into fat little rolls with scallions and sprouts. The chili wontons were definitely not for the faint of heart, but so tender and delicious that I almost didn’t notice how spicy they were. As the weather cools down, this will definitely be a perfect spot for a hot lunch.
4. Marugame Udon at The Beverly Center
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are that you’ve noticed there are some changes happening at The Beverly Center. The iconic Beverly Grove (Beverly Hills adjacent? WeHo adjacent?) mall has been undergoing a very serious renovation, and with the new stores and glitzy new design have come some fantastic eateries, one of which is Marugame Udon. Their second location in LA (the first is, unsurprisingly, located on Sawtelle) is an udon and tempura haven, serving up hot bowls of noodles and all kinds of tempura to the line out the door. I ordered the Nikutama Udon. What was in it, you ask? Noodles…meat…an egg? How is it different than their other offerings? Honestly, I’m not sure. Was it delicious? Oh man, yes it was. The noodles were thick but tender and topped with a sweet and incredibly flavorful pork. There was a simple egg on top, making it so comforting and satisfying. There’s a small condiments bar where you can add soy sauce, hot sauce, etc. I also picked up a few pieces of tempura, like this delicious fried shrimp. Everything was really tasty, explaining the crowd of people lining up cafeteria-style to pick out their lunch. Pro-tip: swing by around 11:30 before the line forms and you’ll get right through.