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RESTAURANTS

Exploration manifests itself in a number of ways including outer space, the ocean and the mountains.  We also find great adventure in discovering new hidden gems in the form of  restaurants.  Our staff have mined and forged the world landscape for food treasures and delicacies.

Asa Meza Opens in Hollywood - Blend of Asian and Latino Delights the Palate

ASA MEZA is a new spot in Hollywood just at the corner of Hollywood and Vine that boasts a stunning library style interior and an outdoor patio area that will become a big hit in the upcoming summer months.  They opened up in early February and in the first month business was a bit spotty, but it is slowly picking up now that the word is getting out.

Ayara Thai Cuisine in Westchester - Authentic and a Local Favorite

It was a cool Monday night when I stopped in to Ayara Thai Restaurant in Westchester and the place was buzzing with a real cross section of customers. Service is brisk and well coordinated by an almost 100% Thai staff, and the fact that about 50% of the customer base was also Thai was another good sign walking in.  The owner is Vanda Asapahu and she works with her mother in the kitchen ensuring that the quality of the food never waivers.  

Eating with Thomas Jefferson at Keswick Hall

Keswick Hall in Charlottesville is a country club/resort/golf club that just happens to have a restaurant called Fossett’s that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson’s (1734-1826) personal chef Edith Fossett (1787-1845) during his retirement years at Monticello

Tavola Restaurant in Charlottesville

Charlottesville in Virginia has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States according to a number of reliable sources. Maybe it is because of the student population of the University of Virginia and their propensity for fast food, but one success story is that of Tavola, a modern Italian bistro that opened in July 2009 in the Belmont District of the city.  

Bombay Palace Celebrates 25 Years

The Bombay Palace restaurant in Beverly Hills has just celebrated 25 years of business in January of this year and is offering special discounts that will be lasting until the end of the year. One of the most elegant Indian restaurants in the city, the Bombay Palace has had the same chef for its entire existence, and a personable owner Deep Sethi for 19 years.

Relaxing at Sunset Restaurant in Malibu

Sunset Restaurant in Zuma Beach, despite having missed regulars Pamela Anderson and Pierce Brosnan on each of my visits there. The restaurant admittedly has gone few a number of changes in the kitchen and with management, but the atmosphere and ambience has remained one of extreme friendliness. The locals continue to come to try items on the extensive but not overwhelming menu.

Restaurant 162 @ the Ritz Carlton

The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point has always been a prime destination to visit, and Restaurant 162 is the main dining room at this sprawling hotel. Chef de Cuisine John Garcia has been running a Friday night Seafood Inspiration Tasting Menu for $65 for four courses, and a recent visit here confirmed the quality of the food and the preparation that went with it.  

Make Your Friends Green with Envy @ Abode

Your friends will be green with envy as you dine at the new Abode Restaurant and Lounge in Santa Monica .  Paradoxically located off Ocean Ave. across from the busy Santa Monica Pier Boardwalk, Abode is quietly nestled between Ivey at the Shore and Tengu.

The Stars Come Out at Ago

When a new restaurant opens up especially in Hollywood , a celebrity chef and celebrity owners help launch the place, but it is still no guarantee that the doors will stay open. There is always a new hot spot for the big spenders and hot babes that frequent these kind of places to go to. But Ago in West Hollywood continues to pull in the crowds with it's Tuscan cuisine. The owners include Robert de Niro, acclaimed directors Tony and Ridley Scott, and Miramax Pictures head honcho Harvey Weinstein. 

Amaranta Cocina Restaurant and Tequila Heaven

I have discovered a new authentic Mexican restaurant in the back of Topanga Mall which not only serves authentic Mexican food from the central region, but also has 400 different brands of Tequila. This impressive selection may possibly be the largest selection of tequila in Los Angeles County

Bluewater Grill- Best Seafood in the South Bay

The reputation of restaurants in the South Bay even today remains questionable, but regular patrons of the Bluewater Grill in Redondo Beach (opened in 2001) don’t give a hoot about that as they continue to enjoy outstanding dishes created by local chef Brian Hirsty and his loyal team. A visit this week on a fairly busy Wednesday night was a complete revelation, with every dish selected turning out to be of the highest quality not only in the freshness and flavor, bit more importantly in the preparation and combinations on the plate.  

Brazilian Food for the "OC"

GOOOAL!!!!! As the World Cup of Futbol approaches in a few weeks, I thought of the five championships held by the country of Brazil .  When we think of Brazil we think of Carnival, Rio and Soccer, but don’t forget about their native food.  Walking into Irvine 's new Brazilian-style steakhouse Agora Churrascaria, a new world appears to unfold.

Party Time at Bella in Hollywood (CLOSED)

Bella Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard has only been open four weeks, but already it has become a real hot spot serving Italian food that is not just to cater to the tourists in the area.  A visit there last Tuesday turned out to be a real hoot, with two separate groups of party animals coming in to the 72 seat restaurant to give the place incredible energy. 

New Chef Shines at Bond Street in Beverly Hills (CLOSED)

The owners of Bond St restaurant in Beverly Hills have pulled off a small coup by hiring new chef Brian Redzikowski to run the Japanese/California style eatery located in the boutique Thompson Hotel. I have no idea what the previous guy was like, but Redzikowski has taken it to a superb level with a series of unique dishes that demand a second visit as soon as possible. 

Cuban Food with a Scent of History (CLOSED)

The cultural diversity and richness found in Los Angeles has resulted in the growth of hundreds of new ethnic restaurants and eating establishments. The cornucopia of great new diners and restaurants has to include the latest Cuban restaurant to open, La Bodeguita de Pico. 

Cassells Hamburger Joint at the Hotel Normandie- A Throwback to 1948 

The Hotel Normandie in Koreatown is now host to Cassell’s Restaurant, a place that has been around since 1948 but not in the same location. It has been open since December 2014 at the Hotel Normandie, a hot new spot in Koreatown which is still a work in progress as they are seeking to upgrade the spot for more events and parties. Cassell’s brings a touch of now to the place despite all the old signs on the wall brought from the old location. The atmosphere is very lively but quite noisy since the tables are very close together, but the staff couldn’t be more welcoming and I for one look forward to returning.

Dantana's in Hollywood Still Going Strong

When a restaurant has been around for 40+ years then you know it has to be good. In Hollywood , Dantana's has the reputation of being a major hang out place where stars in there hundreds have been going to for years, and where they can eat their pasta in peace without being bothered too much. In fact the place is so busy that they have to turn around the tables every couple of hours to seat a new bunch of deal making diners, although it seems hard to imagine the likes of regulars like George Clooney, Leonard Di Caprio or even Phil Spector (he had dinner here with Lana Clarkson before returning to his Mansion on the fateful evening) being easily hustled out by the management.  

A Retrospective Review: Diaghilev for Elegant France-Russian Food (CLOSED)

This retrospective  review will be updated in the future and replaced with the new exciting restaurant being created by the world famous chef Gordon Ramsey. Prior to the remodeling of the hotel, a Franco-Russian restaurant called Diaghilev was available to the public and guests of the Bel Age Hotel (now called the London West Hollywood).  

Flemings Steak House @ LA Live

Fans of Flemings Steak House can now enjoy the latest location at LA Live, the downtown entertainment complex adjacent to the Staples Center . Although at press time the facility is still a work in progress with many of the places still not open for business, the corporate minds that run Flemings have hit the ground running. This is the 11th Flemings in California alone, and they are also in 27 states. Although mid-range steak houses like Black Angus are struggling in the current recession having already filed for bankruptcy, Flemings and other high priced quality establishments will likely survive.

Fogo de Chao Brings the Taste of Southern Brazil  

This review is for the benefit for those of you who have never been to this most unusual of restaurants, for it is the kind of place once visited, never forgotten. I do not consider myself an expert at all in Brazilian food, but if this is a prime example, then more of these types of restaurants please.  It is billed as “the gaucho way of preparing meat, “and since it is also an “all you can eat” establishment, I will be better prepared the next time now that I understand the rules of engagement of pacing oneself to try all the different entrees. 

Great Owners and Players Produce a Winning Team at Hokusai (CLOSED)

What does the Hokusai Restaurant in Beverly Hills and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic USA Basketball Team have in common?  A Dream Team of individuals who are the most talented group of people ever assembled together in one place.  Opened in March of 2007, Hokusai brings a wide-breadth of expertise and experience to the Los Angeles eating scene. 

Hey 19 Launches in Torrance-Southern Style Barrel House

Demi Stevens knows how to launch a restaurant quickly and cheaply and turn it into a quick success, and she might have done it again with Hey 19 in Torrance.  Demi is also the owner of Ortega 120 just round the corner that has become a destination restaurant known for its Mexican food and Tequila cocktails. Hey 19 is more of a Southern Road House that would not look out of place in Arkansas or Louisiana, and the food served here is pretty tasty and you will not be paying Hollywood or Beverly Hills prices in this very unpretentious place.  

Italian Incognito

It isn’t to often you will find a destination restaurant of quality which is located on the ground floor of an executive financial building.  Although hidden away of the main street thoroughfare, when I finally parked and entered Il Moro (“the Moor”), I discovered the journey to this “Westside” restaurant oasis was worth the drive. 

Kindom of Troy Found at Jerne (CLOSED)

Blending an eclectic mix of tasty appetizers with elegantly presented main courses, Chef Troy Thompson (now at the Venetian in Las Vegas, new chef- Drew Sayea) created many different interactive dishes at Jerne, 4375 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, California.  Located in The Ritz Carlton, Marina Del Rey Hotel, Jerne fulfills the expectations of any person interested in Euro-Pacific elegantly prepared accessible dishes. 

Jiraffe- A Class Act in Santa Monica

Jiraffe restaurant in Santa Monica has gained an excellent reputation which we found well deserved, judging by a recent visit to the trendy and upscale eatery. Chef/owner Raphael Lunetta opened up in April 1996 with friend Josiah Citrin who left in 1999 to open the wildly successful Melisse, also in Santa Monica.

Dino-mite Food at Jurassic Restaurant  

It isn’t often you find great ethnic food in a festive social environment.  Jurassic Restaurant introduces Taiwanese Chinese Food in a fun interactive setting. Chef and owner Alex Ai has brought his thematic time period restaurants to the US from his native Taiwan.

Tale of Two Different Italian Restaurants  

Visits to Italian restaurants are always fun, but sometimes the variety of choices can be staggering. I recently visited two distinctly different places, Murano in West Hollywood , and the popular Locanda Del Lago in Santa Monica. Locanda has a dream location adjacent to the 3rd Street Mall, and attracts a nice mix of regulars and tourists. Both have youngish talented Italian chefs in charge, but the contrasts could not be more apparent.

The Sausage Man Comes to West Hollywood at LINK

Yes this new restaurant right next to the busy Beverly Center wants you to come in and try their gourmet sausages, just like the foodies in Atwater Village at Link and Hops. Link restaurant also has a full license, so the cocktail offerings are equally important here. Décor wise, the spot is full of bench like tables but it s quite tastefully done and comfortable enough and a pleasant ambience.  The menu is very hard to read however unless you have the eyes of a five year-old, but the owner promised that that would be one of the first changes they will be making.

The Bite of the Beast at Locanda Del Lago in Santa Monica - Popular Italian Eaterie Remains a Party Place 

This Italian restaurant in Santa Monica at the Third Street Mall is a success story with a loyal group of regulars who come to enjoy the food of Chef Gianfranco Muniz.  Every last Thursday of the month, they put together a special menu for about $55 or $83 with a full complement of wine pairings, so I happily attended Bite of the Beast featuring lamb last week, or more specifically NimanRanch Lamb.

Lola's in West Hollywood, Home of the Apple Martini (CLOSED)

Lola’s in West Hollywood is close to becoming an institution in West Hollywood if it is not one already, their big claim being that they introduced the Apple Martini to the world.  After being a local favorite hang out for 13 plus years, the friendly restaurant/bar attracts a strong regular base, and with a new hard working chef in charge the food is stepping up a notch and the bar is being raised quite significantly.  

Madera Kitchen Opens in Hollywood-Promosing Young Chef mixes Rustic with Mediterranean

Madera Kitchen on Cahuenga Blvd in a slightly unfashionable part of Hollywood should be judged alone on the food and the design of the place which makes it a very promising new spot. Opened in March and with a very talented young chef Kirk Plummer in charge, a quiet Wednesday night meal turned into a veritable feast. The prices are also extremely reasonable for a restaurant of this quality, with the highest menu item being the market fish entrée of the day and the Skirt Steak at $25. There is a very appealing patio area which is a perfect place to eat as well, and overall this is a very comfortable spot.

Kate Mantilini Restaurant Now Open in the San Fernando Valley

The renowned Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills opened on St.Patrick's Day, March 17, 1987, and has long been known as a stars hangout for several reasons - mainly because of location and the connections of owners Harry and Marilyn Lewis. The former actor (over 50 films including Key Largo with Humphrey Bogart) and his wife, started the famous Hamburger Hamlet chain in 1952 with savings of $3,500, before selling the operation for $33 million in 1997. Kate Mantilini's was part of that chain, but the Lewis's bought back the restaurant five years later, and have since opened a second one in Woodland Hills.

Mastro's Comes Alive in Beverly Hills

Mastro Steak House in Beverly Hills is rapidly becoming the place to be seen since opening up here in September, 2001. The Scottsdale based company that runs restaurant selected the former site of the failed remake of the venerable Chasen's restaurant, and it certainly looks like this place is going to be around for some time. 

Melrose Bar and Grill Perfects the West Hollywood Vibe (CLOSED)

I had heard about this place from the very pro-active West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and when I read a positive review in the Michelin 2009 guide I knew I had to check it out. I selected a Monday night to go and arrived close to 8 PM and the place was about 80% full. Most of the customers appeared to be locals who relish the casual but appealing ambience of the place that has a location to dream about. 

Morton's Steakhouse of Chicago in Downtown Los Angeles

Arnie Morton's Steak House of Chicago opened its 62nd venue, in downtown Los Angeles making a welcome addition to the burgeoning dining scene down there. Proving a lively challenger to LA Prime at the nearby Bonaventure Hotel, steak houses are "in" right now, with the Porterhouse Bistro and Mastro's of Scottsdale having both opened in Beverly Hills recently. 

Nashville Restaurant Scene Comes Alive

Of course Nashville is famous for the music, and in fact the minute you step off the plane at the airport it is impossible to ignore the guitar motif that seems to be everywhere. However a lot of food writers and customers have noticed a marked improvement in the restaurant scene in music city the last few years, and on a visit a couple of weeks ago  was more than surprised with the offerings.

A Night at Nick and Stef's Steakhouse

Nick and Stef's restaurant has been open 8 years and is part of the Patina Group, the restaurant empire built up by German superstar chef, Joachim Splichal. They have also opened two more in Manhattan and Washington D.C. so something must be going right.

Experience the Vodbox at Nic's in Beverly Hills

Nic’s restaurant in Beverly Hills would be good enough to stand on the merits of the food, service and atmosphere, but since the addition of  “The Vodbox,’’ business has really picked up. 

Nirvana Serves the Senses in Beverly Hills

Nirvana Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills is slightly hard to locate with only a small sign out front, but since it is directly opposite the Bombay Palace this could make this area of Wilshire decidedly Indian in flavor. The surprising thing is that they are sister restaurants, but very different in style and quality.

Nonya, Peranakan Food Comes To Downtown Pasadena (CLOSED)

When London restaurateur Simon Tong does things with a new restaurant he does it in style-and Nonya restaurant in downtown Pasadena is no exception. Simon moved to California from Woodford in Essex in 2001, brought over Chef Tony Pat from London via Hong Kong, and opened Nonya in fashionable downtown Pasadena.

Authentic Italian Food at Obica In Century City- Milan Chef Runs a Tight Shift

Obica Italian Restaurant in Century City is a very authentic place although I believe it prefers to be known more as a Mozzarella destination.  Of course the famous cheese is an important part of the mix, but with chef Simone Santpietro running the show it is a lot more than just that.  The Milan chef has been in America about six years I think, and he loves it here in Los Angeles, even though the restaurant itself and especially the kitchen is quite small by all accounts. 

Patina and Paparazzi Together at Parc

Just east of Highland on Hollywood Blvd. , a restaurant catering to the young Hollywood crowd as well as diners looking for good food emerges.  As you enter Parc restaurant, a glass-enclosed wine cellar and gleaming bar greets you and suggests casual opulence.  If the food reminds you a little of the old Black Steel’s fine pacific-euro fusion style food, you would not be very far off.  During the transition to the new Parc ownership group, the restaurant was able to retain the services of the Brooklyn Chef J (aka Jason Harley), Pamela Anderson’s personal friend and chef. 

Dining in Style at the Park Grill (CLOSED)

What do Sean Connery, Chris Rock and Usher have in common? For those of you who are interested in where celebrities stay and eat, these venerable icons all like to spend time at the Hotel Intercontinental (formerly known as the Park Hyatt) in Century City in the Royal Suite. They are also very fond of eating at the hotel restaurant, the Park Grill.

Provecho Finally Opens Up Downtown (CLOSED)

For five years chef Gabriel Morales applied his trade and built up a solid reputation at Republic Restaurant in West Hollywood, but now he is the majority owner in a new 5100 square fool place called Provecho in downtown Los Angeles . It is an upscale but not  over-priced Mexican/ceviche restaurant with an emphasis on tequila pairings from the 96 varieties that the bar offers. House tequila will be Casadores, but make sure you check with the servers on some of the more interesting varieties available.

Pump in West Hollywood-Is it as Good as the Hype

Pump in West Hollywood has now been open since May, 2014, and initially reservations were impossible to get due to the anticipation of the opening, and the celebrity of reality television star Lisa Vanderpump.  Now things have settled down and you can now get in to the classy restaurant, although reservations are a must on weekends and for a Gay Sunday brunch.  I was told that Vanderpump shows up regularly to dine at Pump, but not that night unfortunately. 

Sharky's Woodfire Mexican Grill, A Small Chain on the Rise

I recently had the opportunity to meet up with the founder of Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Mexican Grill Steve Paperno in Chatsworth and got an idea as to why the chain of 21 restaurants is doing so well.  The menu strives very hard to use fresh, natural and organic ingredients and uses unique stone ovens and mesquite-grilled cooking styles to enhance the flavor. At the moment all the restaurants are based in California but Arizona and Nevada will be coming soon, maybe after the 2015 opening in Portland.

The Silver Trumpet Changes Approach in Costa Mesa

The Silver Trumpet at the Avenue of the Arts Wyndham Hotel in Costa Mesa is yet another dining option in a city that has more restaurants per resident than any other city in the USA. This is a perfect spot if you are going to the Segerstom Arts Center which is a short walking distance away. The hotel itself has completed a $20 million renovation, and the results are quite stunning. The restaurant alone is sleek and stunning including the classy new Silver Trumpet Patio Bar and Lounge which has launched an innovative cocktail menu and wines from around the world.

South of France Salads in West Hollywood (CLOSED)

Traveling south towards the French Riviera and the Cannes Film Festival, one may find themselves in the town of Provence.  Blending the elegance and class of the French and the health consciousness of Southern California, Salades de Provence brings delicious organic salads, quiches, crepes and an array of desserts to the corner of Holloway Drive and La Cienega north of Santa Monica Blvd. Situated within walking distance from a number of condominiums and small businesses, the word is spreading throughout LA about Salades de Provence.  After parking around the corner and walking toward the small quaint corner restaurant on a dark rainy evening, Salades interior lights stood out like a “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” print. 

Hurrah for RA Sushi

With the sounds of the Red Hot Chile Peppers and Def Leppard playing in the background I entered the most exciting new Japanese restaurant to open in the South Bay in years.  On a Friday night, the restaurant venue was packed with patrons. Located in the newly remodeled Del Amo Fashion Center, RA Sushi eloquently blends the Western palate with Japanese styled prepared food.

Seäsonal Knocks It Out Of The Park!

Located on West 58th Street adjacent to the world famous Plaza Hotel is Seäsonal restaurant, is the result of a long standing partnership between award winning chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban.  Frauneder and Ban first crossed paths when they were students at the prestigious Gastronomie Fachschule.  

Stefan's at the Farm Appetizer Grazaing

When I first saw the marquis address of the Stefan Richter’s new restaurant Stefan’s  @ LA Farm located at 3000 Olympic Blvd., the number “3000” and word “Olympic” made me think of the movie “300” where the Spartans and Greeks fought for their country.  On this night, the warriors would not be fighting for Sparta but for the cornucopia of Stephan’s new hors d’oeuvres in the newly renovated space. 

The Stinking Rose- Heaven for Garlic Lovers

Eleven years on, The Stinking Rose on Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills is still packing them in with its Italian-American food, especially all kinds of people who are crazy about the ubiquitous garlic.

Beverly Hills Best Kept Secret

I want to tell you about a restaurant that is one of the best kept secrets in town, and once you discover it you will add it to your favorites. The place which is called Tagine and the fact that one of the three owners is Ryan Thomas Gosling (The Notebook, Half Nelson, Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor, 2007) who frequents the place with his many movie star friends (including his current girlfriend Rachel Adams) when he is in town, also gives the place a buzz.

Takami Opens Up With Style in Downtown

Takami has just opened up in an old office building downtown, and it just shows you what a $4 million investment can do. The space is buzzing, the atmosphere is terrific, and the food spearheaded by sushi expert Kenny Yamada is a joy to look at and taste. If you are into Asian food at any level, then a visit here is a must, just to see what the fuss is all about, and it could very easily turn out to be one of your regular spots, and certainly a place to take out of town visitors to.

Tanino's Brings a Touch of Class to Westwood

The dominance of Italian food and restaurants in Los Angeles continues unabated, with one such example being Tanino Ristorante and Bar in trendy Westwood Village . The place has been open for five years, and is the vehicle of chef/owner Tanino Drago, a 29-year-old native of Sicily . He is part of the Drago family who have been an influence in this part of the world for some time when it comes to top of the range Italian cuisine. 

A Triumph Indeed

Located on 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, off of the lobby of the trendy Iroquois Hotel, Triomphe Restaurant is a hidden gem in the bustling midtown area of Manhattan.

The Twist is a Hit at the Renaissance Hollywood

When one thinks of the intersection of Hollywood and Highland , they think of the famous Kodak Theatre, the Academy Awards and the adjacent beautiful sprawling multi-level shopping mall.  Just a few steps north, the new Renaissance Hollywood Hotel can be found with one of the most exciting eating establishments tucked away upstairs. With a beautiful view overlooking Highland Avenue , the spacious new Californian-Ecletic restaurant Twist prominently watches over the hybrid vehicles and SUV’s rushing to make the opening act at the “Bowl”. 

Ventura Making a Name as a Restaurant Haven

It should not come as any sort of surprise that Ventura is becoming quite a restaurant town, and as more and more top chefs move here because of the proximity of local produce, the reputation will continue to grow. The local Farmers Market has been prospering for over twenty years with many of the original vendors still showing up. With the access to fresh produce and the diverse population, there has been a healthy increase in the number of ethnic restaurants such as Indian and Latin American that have cropped up recently.

Return of Speak Easy in Santa Monica

If you thought that the speakeasy was dead, then think again. It is alive and well one night a week in Santa Monica . The Vic catering company turns into a New York style jazz club every Thursday night. Some pretty hip names in the world of jazz show up on a regular basis to savor the music and enjoy the food and drinks, and the cool thing is, you have to know the password in order to get in. This is a pretty hip place to impress out of town guests, kind of like a private club that is open to the public.

Yamato Opens in Westwood

Yamato Japanese restaurant has been getting some good press since opening in December, with the Los Angeles Times describing it as “Japanese pub food at great prices”.  

© Rich Journey  Inc.
287 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, California, 90211