Posts Tagged ‘Mexican food’

Downtown gets a treat with Broken Spanish restaurant



Ever since Chef Ray Garcia left Fig restaurant in Santa Monica, I’ve been waiting for him to find a new home. So when news came that Garcia was taking over the old Rivera space in downtown Los Angeles to open Broken Spanish restaurant, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

While Rivera’s loss was mourned, Broken Spanish has more than filled the void with inventive food and drink. This is contemporary Mexican food turned up to 10. And Garcia’s team has opened up the space so it feels lighter and more festive. (Bonus: It’s just a few blocks from my office!)

For smaller bites, the requeson cheese accompanied by snap peas, black sesame, agave and sea beans is a light way to start before moving on to the esquites, or Mexican street corn salad. Garcia’s version uses Kewpie mayo, manzano pepper and parmesan, changing up the classic.



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07 2015

Bring back the pho burrito at Komodo cafe

Komodo cafe's Phoritto

Komodo cafe’s Phorrito

I’m just going to cut to the chase: Komodo cafe should bring back its special Phorrito, its Mexican-Vietnamese fusion of pho soup components rib eye, lime, bean sprouts, jalapeno, onions, Thai basil, cilantro, hoisin, Sriracha and rice noodles all wrapped up in a tortilla. It’s almost like a huge spring roll, but better (because I’m not a big fan of spring rolls).

So what’s the deal with Komodo cafe? A food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar restaurant, Komodo offers a mash-up of Asian, Latino and Californian (which, let’s face it, has a lot of Asian and Latino influences as it is) cuisine. So even if you can’t get the Phorrito (bring it back!), the cafe has a lot of other tasty dishes for you to try.

Komodo tacos

Komodo tacos

Komodo cafe shines in its taco menu. My favorites are the ones that come topped with an egg — because everything is better with egg, right? — as well as those that feature carb-on-carb action. The Loko Modo with seared ground Angus beef, green onions, a sunny-side-up egg, white rice and pineapple-teriyaki sauce is one of these, and I normally don’t like teriyaki sauce. The other is the MP3 with top sirloin steak, tater tots, a sunny-side-up egg, garlic aioli and cilantro. The crunchiness of the tots are key in this taco.

Other tacos that I enjoy are the Asian Marinated Chicken with grilled chicken, jalapeno stir-fried rice, green onions, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds and a sweet soy glaze, as well as the Java with Indonesian pork rendang braised in coconut milk, tomato cucumber salad, green onions and fried shallots. One of the strangest-sounding combinations — the Fish n’ Grapes with deep fried Alaskan cod, concord grapes, roasted almonds and a sour cream salad — is also one of the tastiest.

There are two restaurant locations, in addition to the truck, for Komodo cafe, one on Pico Boulevard near Robertson Boulevard and one in Venice. The newer Venice location just launched a beer program and will be introducing a brunch menu in February.

There’s something for everyone on the Komodo cafe menu, including healthier plates and salads, as well as naughty dishes such as the Brutus Salad, dubbed the “ultimate anti-salad” with tater tots topped with steak, bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, jalapeno aioli and cilantro. But you can’t go wrong with the tacos, which kicked off the menu back in Komodo’s food truck-only days.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Komodo: Los Angeles Food Truck by Behind the Food Carts

Los Angeles Tacos: Komodo Truck’s New Brick-and-Mortar Cafe on Pico by serious eats


01 2015

Travelogue: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

Fairmont Scottsdale room

Fairmont Scottsdale room

I recently visited Scottsdale, Arizona, and had the opportunity to stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort. Located in North Scottsdale, it’s a little out of the way, but that may just be the whole point.

The Fairmont Scottsdale is a sprawling resort complete with multiple pools and eateries, as well as a two-story wellness spa, for maximum desert-style relaxation.

First, the rooms. Our room had ample space, with a walk-in closet, desk, seating area and private balcony. The bed was comfy, and the bathroom had both a stand-up shower and a tub, as well as Le Labo bath products. No complaints.

View from our room

View from our room

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale — with my fave Macallan 12

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

As Scottsdale is known for its luxurious spa experiences, I naturally partook in a treatment at the resort’s Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa, which offers everything from traditional spa treatments and a rooftop pool to aerial yoga classes and nutrition and fitness consultations. I opted for a full body scrub and light massage with natural Body Bliss and Naturopathica skin products, all of which are derived from natural and/or organic ingredients. My provider Mistie made me feel comfortable right away and explained everything to me. And with access to the open-air pool, grotto waterfall, steam room, Swedish dry sauna, eucalyptus inhalation room, Swiss shower, hot whirlpool and cold plunge pool, as well as a full spa cuisine menu, you can easily spend a full relaxing day here. Oh, and fitness classes are included in your booking. Score!

Aerial yoga

Aerial yoga

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06 2014

Broadway Bites is back in NYC

This post is written by ShopEatSleep contributor Deanna Ting, a New York-based writer and editor who hails from Los Angeles. She is a seasoned travel, lifestyle and fashion writer, having written for publications such as TravelAge West, Luxury Travel Advisor, Los Angeles magazine and WSAToday (a magazine that was entirely devoted to shoes). These days, you can find her working as a managing editor/senior editor for Incentive and Successful Meetings magazines, as well as scouring New York–and the globe–for her next favorite meal. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @deanna421.

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Given the downright nasty winter that New York City endured this year, the return of warmer weather–and all that comes with it–is a more than welcome sight. One great mainstay of summer is the return of outdoor food events like Broadway Bites, a pop-up, outdoor culinary market that occupies a prime location in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

Located at Greeley Square Park, between 32nd and 34th streets on Broadway, Broadway Bites serves up a collection of 30 different vendors selling fare as varied as handmade chocolates (Nunu) and Japanese takoyaki (Mimi & Coco) to Michelin-starred pizza (Roberta’s) and “California street food” (Jicama). If Broadway Bites seems familiar it’s because it’s the work of the same folks behind the wildly popular Madison Square Eats, Urban Space. Last year, Broadway Bites debuted for the very first time in late October and now it has returned with a new summer lineup.

While some favorites have remained–including Roberta’s, makers of that aforementioned Michelin-starred pizza–there are also a number of newbies that are worth a try. Here’s a look at just a few:

Onigiri by Tampopo: Onigiri, a traditional Japanese rice ball wrapped in nori, is deceptively small but incredibly filling. Many onigiri that I’ve had before have lacked in flavor, with a disproportionate amount of white rice overwhelming whatever tiny morsel–ume, salmon, chicken and the like–was wrapped inside. Tampopo’s version is the exception: The salmon scallion onigiri that I had was so flavorful. With each bite I could taste the lightly seasoned rice, flecks of bright green scaillions and fresh salmon pieces; I never had to search for that one tiny morsel–it was already in every bite. A variety of unique flavor combinations are available (ummm cheddar shiso, anyone?), so save multiple visits to try out each one.

PalenqueHaving traveled to Colombia last summer and eaten more than my own weight in arepas while I was there, I’ve longed to find another arepa as good as the ones I had over there. While Palenque’s aren’t quite exactly like the ones I had in Colombia, they’re pretty darn close. Arepas come in three varieties–classic corn, and quinoa and multigrain for the more health-conscious–and, like miniature pizzas, they are topped with generous heapings of Oaxacan cheese, savory sauces and toppings of your choice, like angus beef and marinated chicken. The chicken arepa, composed entirely of white meat, was never dry and was the perfect mix of salty and savory.    

And here’s a look at a few of my favorite mainstays:

Chutney: I love Indian food, and I also happen to love Mexican food, so this mash-up, while a little bit out of the ordinary, really works. The chicken tikka taco was great–really flavorful, with just the right amount of tikka masala and juicy bits of chicken. Bonus points for the fact that all tacos are made fresh to order. There are also two vegetarian options available. One taco is $4 while an order of three, a good-size meal, is $10.

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Red Hook Lobster Pound: I like to judge my lobster rolls by two main factors–the buttery-ness of the bread and the quality of the lobster itself–and in both of those categories, Red Hook Lobster Pound is a winner in my books. I also happen to love the fact that Red Hook’s lobster isn’t drenched in mayo or any other unnecessary dressings–they simply let the lobster, and the roll, speak for themselves.

There are so many other great finds to be found at Broadway Bites, so do yourself a favor and start exploring. Stop by now through Aug. 1, every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


06 2014

Taste Los Angeles at the Taste of Mexico

Mini sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn) from Cacao Mexicatessen

Mini sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn) from Cacao Mexicatessen

People always ask me what’s the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Well, now those people — it could be you! — can find out for themselves at the 2nd Annual Taste of Mexico on Nov. 30 at Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. Some of the best Mexican food in the city will be represented, including Playa, La Monarca Bakery, Guelaguetza, Cacao Mexicatessen and Guisados. I was recently invited to try some of these eateries’ offerings, and every single bite of food I had was delicious, especially the sea urchin tostada with chicharron and esquites (Mexican street corn off the cob) from Cacao Mexicatessen (above) and the Oaxacan mole negro pollo tamal from Guelaguetza (below). You won’t go wrong at Taste of Mexico.

Mole negro tamal from Guelaguetza

Mole negro chicken tamal from Guelaguetza

The event, which promises to be a veritable party judging by the hosts, will also feature Mexican beer, Baja wines, mezcal and tequila in addition to unlimited samplings from the participating restaurants. For even more fun, you’ll also find live music, mariachi and DJs. A portion of every ticket sold will benefit Los Angeles’ Downtown Art Walk.

Tickets cost $50 for general admission and $70 for VIP, which includes the uber-pricey Casa Dragones tequila and early admission to the event.


11 2012

Food and fun at Border Grill cooking classes

Chefs Susan Feniger (left) and Mary Sue Milliken teach a cooking class at Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles

Chefs Susan Feniger (left) and Mary Sue Milliken teach a cooking class at Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Rory Owen Delaney.

Have you been to a cooking class at Border Grill? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on a truly fun and informative time. Remedy your situation by attending Salsa 101 taught by none of that than chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, the original Two Hot Tamales and two Top Chef Masters contestants.

While enjoying a multi-course lunch with signature cocktails, you’ll learn the essentials of creating salsas that you can incorporate into a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, barbecue and even dessert. You’ll learn lots of cooking tips from Milliken and Feniger, such as how the ends of cucumbers are bitter; how you should sharpen a knife at a 15 degree angle and always wipe it off immediately after cutting citrus; how you should cut fish against the grain just like beef; how onions have the most sugar of all vegetables, which means they will oxidize immediately if put in a food processor; and much more.

You’ll also get to take a recipe booklet home so you can recreate what you learned at home. Good food, good company, good take-aways — what more can you ask for?

Salsa 101 & Beyond with Mary Sue and Susan

Saturday, June 2, 2012
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Border Grill Downtown LA
445 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Call (213) 486-5171 for reservations.
$75 per person

Note: I attended a similar class as a guest of Border Grill.


05 2012

Fun, delicious, with dash of social commentary: brunch at Playa Rivera

Huevos Polenta

Huevos Polenta at Playa Rivera

When I first heard that Chef John Rivera Sedlar was opening Playa Rivera restaurant in the old Grace space on Beverly Boulevard, I jumped for joy. I love Sedlar’s food (and Julian Cox’s cocktails) at Rivera downtown, so having one of his eateries closer in proximity to where I live is really a treat.

Elegant, hearty and delicious, Playa Rivera’s brunch is a great choice for a casual-but-elevated meal. I had the pleasure of having brunch here with Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Lindsay of LAist and Esther of estarLA, and we had a well-rounded meal complete with cocktails and a chat with Sedlar himself, who happened to walk in just as we were leaving.

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09 2011

Travelogue: California’s Central Coast, Part 2

The Lone Cypress in Carmel

The second part of our drive up the California coast started with a stop in Cambria. After a beautiful drive on Highway 46 from Paso Robles, we came upon the cutest little town and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean in Cambria. We found a kind-of-crappy-but-good-enough-for-one-night motel called Mariners Inn for about $80 — a price that couldn’t be beat considering the place practically sat right on the water. Listening to the waves crash at night was delightful.

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06 2011

Not your momma’s mall food: La Sandia and Zengo at Santa Monica Place

The opening of the new Santa Monica Place mall has been exciting for those of us who knew the old, tired mall that stood in its place years ago. Perhaps some of the most exciting parts have been the new food options, some of which are entirely new to Los Angeles. La Sandia and Zengo from chef Richard Sandoval are two of those new restaurants.

I was invited to try out the food and drink at both places last week, and I came away from the experience pleasantly surprised. These restaurants — the Mexican La Sandia and the Latin-Asian fusion Zengo — are nicer than your usual mall joints, with some pretty respectable cocktails, too.

We started out with cocktails and appetizers at La Sandia. My favorite drink was the cucumber-serrano martini made with mezcal, cucumber, serrano chili, citrus and chili piquin salt on the rim. I love spicy hotness as well as cucumber in my drinks, so this was the prefect combination. I also really enjoyed the shrimp quesadillas made with shrimp, Mexican cheeses, black bean puree, chipotle aioli and topped with crema and avocado. So tasty!

La Sandia cocktails

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08 2010

Oaxacan me crazy: Guelaguetza

I’ve been into Oaxacan Mexican food lately, so when I was invited to dinner at Guelaguetza with owner Bricia Lopez, who also owns the uber-tasty Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron, I jumped at the chance. I had been to Guelaguetza once before, and mostly what I remembered was the awesome band that played that night in the restaurant. So I was glad to have someone who knew her way around the menu to guide me through dinner.

Oaxacan-style Mexican food is different from the kind of Mexican food most people are used to, i.e., tacos and burritos served with salsa and refried beans. Oaxacan food is all about the mole, that thick sauce made from chilis, bread, chocolate and all kinds of other good stuff, and Guelaguetza serves all kinds. My favorite was a lighter one made with almonds (sorry, didn’t catch the name).

There are three locations of the restaurant, the original on 8th Street in Koreatown, one on Olympic Boulevard also in K-Town and one in Lynwood. We ate at the one on Olympic, which is a large space complete with larder area up front, a fountain in the middle and two areas for live music. Your meals here start with an appetizer of tortilla chips topped with mole and queso fresco.

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05 2010