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First Week LA: What We Ate

Lemonade- Lemonade is a local chain out here in LA that offers a range of healthy mix-n-match dishes. It’s sort of like an updated cafeteria where you go in and can get a hodgepodge of vegetables dishes in addition to meats and freshly made sandwiches. We really enjoyed the unique flavors of the different veggie focused salads and pastas. We’ve been a couple of times now since it’s walkable from our new place (and will definitely be a go-to spot when we are too tired to cook after work/school). We tried most of the current menu and really enjoyed things we didn’t think to try since they combine many flavors into each dish. Overall, its a pretty healthy meal until you add on a side of their ridiculously creamy truffle mac and cheese. Lemonade also has a variety of some of the most amazing, surprise, lemonade I’ve ever tasted. Blueberry mint and pineapple coriander have been the favorites thus far, although the original is great, too. Every time we’ve eaten there, I’ve been left completely stuffed!

Fonuts & Coffee Commissary- I’d read a lot about Fonuts AKA healthier donuts— baked or steamed instead of fried with a lower sugar content than most traditional donuts. They also have many gluten free and vegan choices though we didn’t order any of those. I picked up a maple bacon, which was light and fluffy similar to a traditional yeasted donut with a decent frosting and good bacon, but it definitely was not Voo Doo level good. I also got the salted caramel since my favorite from Top Pot is their salted caramel old-fashioned. It came out fresh from the oven, so the caramel was still soft and warm. The salt they used on top was really great, but the caramel was just ok compared to what we have become accustomed to. I also grabbed a cake-like red velvet, definitely the weakest of the bunch because it didn’t taste like red velvet at all and the frosting was most definitely not cream cheese. It was pretty mediocre. Overall, I think Fonuts were pretty good for healthified donuts, but let’s be honest, if you are going for donuts, you should probably save up your calories and get the real deal. We probably won’t be back, but I’m glad we tried them. We did find some great coffee down the road at Coffee Commissary. It’s no Vivace, but good and we’ll go back there when we head East.

Simple Things- Cute and simple sandwich and pie shop in the West Hollywood area. While we were out exploring the neighborhood with Bonnie, we grabbed sandwiches (me a pretzel BBQ chicken sandwich and Dustin a reuben) and some mini bite sized pies to take to the park. I wasn’t all that impressed by the blueberry, but the banoffee (banana cream and toffee) was quite tasty and definitely something I’d like to make on my own. I’d go back if I were in the area and needed a quick bite, but I don’t think I’d venture specifically out there again.

Oscar’s Cerveteca- After we became legally licensed Californians we stopped by this Mexican joint in Venice for fish tacos, Mexican street corn, and celebratory strawberry ginger agua fresca. Dustin went all healthy on me and ordered grilled salmon tacos. I was craving something fried, so I ordered the Baja tacos. Both dishes were incredibly fresh and delicious with slaw, crema and spicy salsas. The corn was like something I’d expect to get on the streets of Mexico with chipotle and cotija cheese. I’d go back for the corn alone, but the tacos are also top notch.

Sweet Rose Creamery- We went on a nice long walk through Brentwood one evening culminating at the Brentwood Country Mart where we stopped and shared a chocolate waffle cone with fresh mint and homemade chocolate chip ice cream. Whoa! I’ve used fresh mint in chocolate chip cookies, and now I’ll have to use it in ice cream as well because it is AMAZING. This was hands down the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever tasted. You could taste the freshness of the herb, but it wasn’t too herby at the same time if that makes any sense at all to you. And homemade chocolate waffle cones that practically melt in your mouth? Yes, please. You can bet we’ll be back to try many of their seasonal flavors!

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market- We hit our first farmer’s market during our first week, and I definitely feel they will be a weekly stop for us— so much delicious fresh produce, cheese (we picked up some killer spicy smoked cheddar), meats, bakery products, nuts, candies, flowers, and more. Also, way better and more extensive than what we had locally in Washington. Between Santa Monica/Brentwood, the Hollywood area, and even Westwood there is practically one every day, so if you are busy one day, no fear because there’s always another equally impressive market tomorrow. Rockenwagen Bakery was featured at the Santa Monica one we went to, so we grabbed some breakfast— a bacon and egg slider for Dustin and a Cro-Dough for me. A Cro-Dough is their version of NYC’s famous and super popular Cronut—a hybrid donut and croissant. The Cro-Dough (I ordered the vanilla) was iced and stuffed with pasty cream. I planned on eating fruit for breakfast that morning, but my plans were thwarted once I saw the Cro-Dough.

Sotto- Sotto is a nicer, but still casual, restaurant with dishes from Southern Italy in the Beverly Hills/Century City area. The restaurant was loud and not for the claustrophobic, as the tables were crammed almost on top of each other, which we’ve found to be common practice in LA so far. The service was a little slow, but the food and cocktails were great. I ordered the Life’s a Peach to drink (bourbon, muddled peach, lemon, honey, creme de peach, and prosecco) and Dustin ordered the Barrel-Aged Clover Club (gin, lemon, homemade raspberry preserves, and egg white). Both cocktails had enough flavors so that the alcohol didn’t burn, but they weren’t overly sweet despite their fruity ingredients. For appetizers we got the crusty, grilled homemade bread with lardo pestato and the grilled pork meatballs with snap peas, pecorino, and bitter greens. The meatballs practically melt in your mouth and were my favorite part of the night. We split two pasta dishes as our next course— the spaghetti with spicy octopus ragu, black kale, breadcrumbs, and burrata and the casarecce with braised lamb ragu, egg, and pecorino. Both pastas were clearly handmade and quite tasty, but I think the lamb was the better of the two. Since we were sitting so close to our dining neighbors, we heard them order a couple of desserts celebrating their anniversary, and they didn’t seem all that pleased with them. We’d had such a great experience with appetizers and pastas, we didn’t want to ruin our experience with potentially subpar desserts plus we were pretty full and the service was a little slow, so we chose to pass on dessert. Overall Sotto was a fun little date night, and I can definitely see us going back here after we’ve explored around some more.

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