At the end of May, I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days in LA on a very long work trip. My temporary dwelling was a spacious room in the Millennium Biltmore, a historic and characteristic hotel situated in the Financial District. For the movie buffs out there, you probably know the Biltmore as the timeless backdrop for a number of Hollywood films such as Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop.
In between work responsibilities, I ate my way through a very extensive list of restaurants and cafes I had been patiently waiting to visit for months. Since I was limited in time to venture further into LA, this guide is specific to the downtown area near the convention center. Regardless, I still experienced and indulged in some of the best meals [and coffee] of my life. Below I've shared a small yet delicious restaurant and cafe guide to follow next time you find yourself in LA!
I might be making a bold statement here, but this is one of the best ramen joints I've visited to date. I still haven't made it to New York to experience the ramen scene there, but you can trust me when I say this is some of the best ramen you can find in LA. When I was visiting my sister out west last October, she took me here, and I had been dreaming about [and salivating over] their ramen ever since. Naturally, Yamadaya was my first stop in LA, and it was absolutely worth the 30 minute drive to-and-from their Culver City location. Yamadaya's Tonkotsu ramen has the perfect balance of flavors - each slurp is equally as fatty, salty, and umami-rich as the one that came before.
The first Friday I was in LA, I decided to take my own advice from a previous blog post I wrote and dine alone on a Friday night. If you've been wondering what that's like, it's actually pretty awesome! Yes, restaurants tend to be more crowded on weekend nights, especially when they're located on a gorgeous rooftop, but I genuinely enjoyed the company of myself at Commissary.
Beyond the ambiance, the skyline views, the rooftop pool, and the gorgeous greenery, Commissary offers some amazing drinks flavored with fresh fruit and herbs, as well as some quality food. Friday's solo dinner consisted of a big bowl of black garlic shrimp scampi [pro tip: not fresh-breath friendly], and a giant cocktail made with gin, grapefruit and mint (I think?). I may have had one too many of those and forgot to write down the ingredients. Oops.
Commissary is located on the rooftop of The Line Hotel, a vibrant hotel featuring not only Commissary, but the art and design collective shop Poketo, and unique nightlife scenes. I originally came for the food but stayed for the good vibes.
One morning on my walk to work, I took an unusually long detour through downtown LA to stop by Verve Coffee Roasters. I was immediately drawn in by their welcoming, green, and perfectly sun-lit cafe. Decorated with wooden seats, exposed brick, and hanging vines, Verve was the perfect early-morning oasis to get lost in before a long day of work. Not to mention their coffee and pastries were the perfect morning pick-me-ups.
Daily Dose Cafe is by far one of the most quaint cafes I've ever visited. Situated in a the cutest of alley ways, decorated with string lights, wooden tables, and secluded by ivy-covered brick walls, Daily Dose has a magical air about it. Using locally-sourced, organic, hormone, antibiotic, and nitrate-free produce, Daily Dose only offers the best off their menu.
I stumbled upon Black Top in the Arts District while en route for some ice cream at Salt & Straw. Being only 10 in the morning at the time, I felt that it made a bit more sense to start my day off with some coffee before ice cream. Right? Black Top is a small, chique cafe that happens to sell one of my absolute favorite coffee brands, Counter Culture. Needless to say, I ordered myself an iced coffee with almond milk and leisurely read my Cherry Bombe Magazine before my ice cream breakfast.
This was my ice cream breakfast I was just talking about. Like my first experience at Yamadaya, my first experience at Salt & Straw was with my sister when I visited her in LA last October [thanks, sis!]. And just like I had been dreaming about going back to Yamadaya to enjoy their ramen, I had dreamed of and salivated over Salt & Straw ice cream just as much. I hate to admit this because I'm originally from the east coat, but the west coast truly is the "best coast" when it comes to food. Salt & Straw is by far the best ice cream shop I've ever visited. The west coast chain is known for their dedication to the community, their wacky ice cream flavor names, and equally as wacky yet delectable ice cream flavors. My go-to's are honey lavender, silencio black tea & coconut stracciatella (vegan), and stumptown coffee & compartes love nuts.
There's nothing I quite admire more in the culinary world than the countless creative dishes that can be cooked with only vegetables. I'm not a true vegetarian as I eat meat on occasion, but there's something to be said about the chefs and restauranteurs that dedicate their time and effort into turning seemingly simple vegetables into pieces of culinary artwork. PYT does just that. A vegetable-centered restaurant in LA, PYT highlights their local produce with unique flavors and spices and beautiful presentations. Pictured above is the meal I devoured during my visit to PYT: hand torn pasta with shishito peppers, yuzo brown butter, cilantro, mint, and green garlic cream.