LOUISE’S TRATTORIA… “Wine Down Weekends & Cozy Fireside Tables For Two!”

You’re in the mood for Italian fare that won’t leave you feeling as though you paid to much for too little. Where do you go? Here’s a suggestion…Louise’s Trattoria. This wildly successful chain of Italian restaurants was started in 1978 and was the winner of the City Search ‘Ten Best Italian Restaurants In Los Angeles’. But we’re not surprised because we’ve experienced this eatery first hand and can report that we have returned, and will return again in the future. Quality ingredients, fresh presentations, friendly and courteous employees, and that special attention from management that makes you feel like you’re part of the family.

With locations in Brentwood, Larchmont Village, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and West Los Angeles, Louise’s knows that most people who enjoy a great Italian meal also appreciate a great vintage to accompany it. That’s why the company has created ‘Wine Down Weekends’. So what are ‘Wine Down Weekends’ anyway? Well, they’re all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when the restaurants offer half-off select bottles of wine to their dining patrons. A good deal? We think so. In fact, we’ve taken advantage of this a number of times. And if you’re dining at Louise’s on any other day, the corkage fee is just $10. So bring in that bottle you’ve been waiting to enjoy with a terrific Italian meal and have your server at Louise’s cork it for you there.

Fresh Baked Ciabatta Bread Served With Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinaigrette

Can I just say that the ciabatta bread that Louise’s serves to start your meal is incredibly delicious? This buttery, crisp, garlic-enhanced perfectly baked dough will force you to indulge in a second piece…and maybe even a third. A nice change from the typical variation of bread most restaurants serve.

Sonoma Salad

The Sonoma Salad ($10.50) arrives in all its colorful splendor with baby organic lettuce, sun dried tomatoes, earthy pine nuts, and Sonoma goat cheese enriched with a sensational balsamic vinaigrette dressing. A perfect beginning to a meal at Louise’s, and one that is light and hearty at the same time without being too much before a main course.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

The BBQ Chicken Pizza ($15/Medium) is loaded with plentiful BBQ chicken breast, mozzarella and smoked Gouda cheeses, a zesty BBQ sauce, sweet red onions, and refreshing cilantro. The medium sized pizza could easily feed three adults with no problem. A thin tanned crispy crust underneath creates the perfect base for the ingredients in this menu option.

Chicken Picatta

I love an excellent Chicken Picatta dish. And I certainly received one at Louise’s. The creamy picatta sauce made from pungent capers, lemon, and butter glazes savory chicken breasts, and seasonal vegetables effortlessly, while a side of creamy whipped potatoes offers an added zing with a garlic enhancement.

Tagliatelle Bolognese

Like pasta? Then you should try the Tagliatelle Bolognese ($12.50) at this popular Italian eatery. House-made ribbons of tagliatelle swirled in a heavenly emulsion of sirloin and pork ragu with tomato sauce, herbs, garlic, and red wine. A definite winner in the pasta category for us, this offering was filling and an exciting burst of flavor at the same time.

Chicken Marsala

The rich taste of the Chicken Marsala ($14) with its Marsala wine, fresh and fragrant herbs, shallots, and mushrooms is another variation of a delicious dinner at Lousie’s which employs chicken as its main ingredient. Vibrantly-colored seasonal vegetables and garlic potatoes are added to this entree as well.

There is a wide assortment of traditional sweet selections at Louise’s. From the Tiramisu to the Italian Lemon Cake to the famous Humingbird Cake and other options, there is a sweet finale that is perfect for your taste after a delectable meal at this neighborhood establishment in the heart of Larchmont Village.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Tables are topped with crisp white linens, while large mirrors hang perfectly aligned on the interior walls against soft-toned surroundings and deep wood enhancements throughout the dining space. Outside, sidewalk tables are kept warm in the chilly weather by modern outdoor heaters which also add an element of intrigue to the area.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Flavorsome dishes, terrific deals on wines during the weekends, and consistency from week to week in everything that is prepared here.
  • LOCATION: Louise’s Trattoria restaurants are located across southern California, but the specific locale on Larchmont Boulevard that we frequent is at 232 North Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90004.
  • HOURS: Louise’s is available for dining Monday through Thursday from 11 AM to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 10:30 PM, and on Sundays from 12 PM to 9:30 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Sincere concern for customers can be felt at Louise’s. Servers, other staff, and management show that they are truly happy to be serving you.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Realistic pricing for traditional Italian favorites. (Ask your server about the Louise’s Rewards Program to earn points for member discounts on future bills!)
  • CORKAGE FEE: $10 per 750mL bottle.
  • PARKING: Metered parking is available in front of the restaurant and along Larchmont Boulevard.
  • TOTAL BILL: Our bills have never exceeded $40 for the two of us on any occasion thus far.

Louise's Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Louise's Trattoria on Restaurantica

Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

LARCHMONT BUNGALOW ARTISAN CAFE, BAKERY & BREW… “All the Comforts of Home…Fireplace Included!”

Beneath the cover of numerous shady trees and located on charming Larchmont Boulevard amidst a multitude of quaint shops, local businesses and historic homes lies a thriving business within a hundred-year-old building called Larchmont Bungalow. One visit to this friendly neighborhood cafe and you’ll be as captivated as we were. This eco-friendly fully certified “green” establishment includes reclaimed wood flooring, incorporates biodegradable products into their daily business including coffee mugs made from corn that are recyclable, and allows for ample comfortable seating both indoors as well as outside on one of multiple inviting patios.

Caring for our environment as well as the community of Larchmont Village, manager and partner, Ken Bernard calls the abode “a living room for the neighborhood.” And he couldn’t have said it better in our opinion. Handwritten menus donning daily offerings from the kitchen on hanging chalkboards throughout, warm wood tones from the overhead trussed ceiling and reconditioned wood paneling beneath your feet, and even a cozy fireplace inside the cafe crate a welcoming environment for the perfect meal or live evening candlelit entertainment in front of the fire.

Originally built and operated as a commercial entity in the 1920s, this intriguing establishment has been offering an environmentally-friendly and loving touch to the public on Larchmont Boulevard since it’s opening in 2009. Four years later and it’s still going strong. Why wouldn’t it be. Between the artisan baked goods offered, the extensive multiple meal menu presented (including vegan and gluten-free options), one-of-a-kind house brewed coffees and teas, and the alluring ambiance this cafe emanates, there’s something available for most anyone who steps foot through the threshold of this eatery and neighborhood coffeehouse.

Aside from Larchmont Bungalow’s ever-popular all-day breakfast selections, my husband and I truly enjoyed a recent trip to the artisan cafe and bakery for lunch one lazy sunny afternoon. The tea was uncomparably fresh-tasting, invigorating and perfectly chilled over ice for us. My husband and I each enjoyed a large green variety of this beverage, and were satisfied by its coolness and clean flavor…

Fresh-Brewed Green Iced Tea

Traditional Tuna Melt with Side Salad

Above and below, the Traditional Tuna Melt ($12.95) was served with a side salad and was just oozing with flavorful tuna and cheddar cheese. My husband enjoyed this delicious conglomeration of savoriness, as did I. Certainly one of my favorite tuna melts ever, this sandwich was an experience to behold with the colorful crisp lettuce and crunchy bold-flavored chopped red pepper, sweet and tangy green apple, hearty honey-roasted cashews and taste awakening house vinaigrette dressing.

Traditional Tuna Melt With Side Salad

BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries and a Fried Pickle

This stunning menu option (pictured above and below) was gratifying and every bite was particularly comforting to me. At first taste, the BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap ($12.95) sent flavors of tender pulled pork with a tangy sweet barbecue essence across my taste buds for an enthralling ride. I actually debated whether or not to finish it in its entirety, but resolved to take the second half home with me to enjoy and savor later in the evening. (Not bad with a nice glass of Cabernet, I might add!) The tender greens and creamy avocado in this wrap also added to the flavor experience, and the sweet potato fries and fried pickle were also well-received.

BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries and a Fried Pickle

Aside from the fresh, lovingly-crafted meal options at this cafe, there is also the bakery part of it not to be overlooked. But we really don’t think you’ll be overlooking it. Upon entering the front door, a huge glass-encased dessert-filled display almost beckons you into its presence mischievously tempting you with a kaleidoscope of various colors, shapes and portions made of only the finest and freshest ingredients…

Larchmont Bunglalow’s Sinfully Savory Dessert Offerings

The perfect flaky croissant to accompany a cup of house-brewed artisan coffee? A moist blueberry-filled muffin? How about an intriguing-to-the-eye rainbow of fresh berries atop one of the Larchmont Bungalow’s sweet sensations with a tender graham cracker crust? Or maybe you’d prefer a few of the meticulously decorated and colorful savory cookies available…it’s all up to you. And it’s all available at Larchmont Bungalow.

Flaky Croissants, Berry-Topped Temptations & House-Baked Colorful Cookies

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Larchmont Bungalow. We look forward to returning for breakfast, dinner and some nightly fireside entertainment very soon!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The feel of Larchmont Bungalow is that of walking into the front door of a friend’s home…that of welcome invitation. The spacious interior allows for seating in multiple areas, while dining outdoors is another option not to be missed. Warm tones of color fill the entire establishment, while the aromas of freshly ground coffee and artisan baked goods carry themselves through the air tempting and luring patrons inside.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Fresh fare is creative, enticing and sensationally delicious. Don’t be surprised if you return to the register to even take something home with you after your dining experience! Beverages are made with care and worth ordering more.
  • LOCATION: Larchmont bungalow is located on the inviting stretch of Larchmont Village at 107 North Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90094.
  • HOURS: Open from 7:30 AM – 9 PM Sunday through Saturday, this cafe conveniently offers delectable beverages and tempting fare daily.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The staff showed only kindness, well-versed knowledge about the establishment and the menu, and seemed genuinely pleased to be there.
  • PRICE / VALUE: At just $12.95 each for the Traditional Tuna Melt and the BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap, we were thrilled with the price. What we got for the money was delightful flavor, huge portions, and even leftovers to take home! A terrific value.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No outside alcohol is permitted.
  • PARKING: Available parking is present along charming Larchmont Boulevard via metered spaces.
  • TOTAL BILL: Our total bill came in under $36 for two iced teas, a Traditional Tuna Melt, and a BBQ Pulled Pork Wrap (including tax).

Larchmont Bungalow on Urbanspoon

Larchmont Bungalow  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

BLU JAM CAFE… “Jam On With Succulent Cuisine In A Relaxed Atmosphere!”

It’s not often that a place known for it’s sensational breakfast dishes and lunch sandwiches and salads can pull off delicious dinner entrees in addition to their morning and noon fare, but Blu Jam Cafe on Melrose Avenue has definitely nailed it! This cafe boasts scrumptious cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere that welcomes its customers in with open arms. We had to return to this location again recently to try other items on their extensive and multifarious menu…and were we impressed! (Unfortunately, Blu Jam Cafe is no longer serving dinner. However, breakfast and lunch are now available all day, seven days a week, from 8 AM – 5 PM!)

With attractive and comfortable seating indoors and outside in a quaint railing-enclosed patio perfect for people-watching, Blu Jam Cafe offers an array of items on their all-day menu. Now open from 8AM to 5PM, you can not only order your favorite breakfast items, but also anything on the lunch or dinner menus as well. Sauteed Salmon with String Beans and Mashed potatoes at 8 AM, anyone? What an ingenious idea!

The interior colors are warm, vibrant and there is a sense of energetic whimsy about this place. You will feel welcome the moment you walk inside this establishment. In fact, you may never want to leave. The dark glazed mahogany tables coordinate nicely with the brick wall behind the bar, the raw finish of the exposed pipes and rafters overhead lend itself to a bit of a rustic feel and the amazing customer service and delightfully sensational menu options tie everything together to top off a neighborhood eatery with so much to offer…

California Omelet

My husband and I first visited Blu Jam Cafe for lunch a few weeks ago. Our selections included the above California Omelet, which is comprised of a three egg omelet with crispy smoked bacon, fresh tomato, avocado, sour cream and cheddar cheese served with potatoes and toast. All I witnessed was a very happy man across from me at the table as I watched this dish get devoured down to the very last bite.

Below, I appreciated the Warm Mushroom Salad with sauteed fresh mushrooms, organic mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, goat cheese, chives and a delicious balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I not only delighted in the union of savory flavors while feasting upon this item, but I was also enchanted by the visual presentation as well…

Warm Mushroom Salad

On our most recent trek to Blu Jam Cafe, we elected to sit indoors. The mood of the evening was a bit more calm and the busy breakfast crowd had long since simmered down. We began this dining experience by trying one of the Red Wine Sangrias made with fresh juices, cinnamon and sparkling wine…

Red Sangria

…both a little tart from the wine and a little sweetened by the fruit juices and fresh orange wedge affixed to the side of the glass, this was a very refreshing take on a classic summer drink…

Burrata & Strawberries

This choice from the Soups & Starters section of the menu (pictured above and below) is Blu Jam Cafe’s Burrata and Strawberries appetizer… succulent fresh strawberries topped with creamy Burrata (means “buttered” in Italian. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream…the outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside consists of mozzarella and cream) then topped again by wild arugula and a balsamic syrup on top of crunchy crostinis. The below picture is a close-up of this delectable dish…

Burrata & Strawberries Close-Up

For my entree, I went simple with a panini. Served on pressed focaccia bread with a side of organic mixed greens, the Turkey Pesto Panini was bursting with astonishing flavors from the combination of the oven-roasted turkey breast, refreshing tomatoes, house-made pesto and provolone cheese…

Turkey Pesto Panini

The following photo is a close-up view of the sandwich…

Close-Up Photo of the Turkey Pesto Panini

My husband ordered the Sauteed Salmon. And yes, it did taste as incredible as it looks in this snapshot below! This grilled salmon dish was served with green beans, mashed potatoes and a lemon-caper sauce that was to die for…literally!

Sauteed Salmon

Stepping out of our normal routine a bit, we decided to order dessert. Yes, we know it’s a strange occurance for us, but for one reason or another we were both craving a little bite of something sweet. Problem was, we wound up eating the entire thing! We chose a piece of the Tres Leches Cake topped with a fluffy whipped topping and fresh seasonal berries. In a word, it was heaven…and very beautiful to behold.

Tres Leches Cake

We love this place! And here’s something else to love…Blu Jam Cafe serves organic produce, free-range meats and some of the freshest seafood you can get your hands on. Additionally, kudos to this terrific eatery for their support of the local economy by its purchase of meats from farms local to the area like Jacob Farms, Rodoni Farm, Riverdog Farm, Terra Firma Farm and Niman Ranch. What’s not to love about that? In fact, what’s not to love about Blu Jam Cafe…..quite simply, not a thing!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Outdoors, a quaint patio with a terrific view of passers-by. Inside, a trendy ambiance with rustic touches that is warm and inviting.
  • FOOD / DRINK: S-A-V-O-R-Y!!! Everything is savory here from the chilled beverages to the creative starters to the crisp salads to the succulent entrees and indulgent sandwiches and paninis!
  • LOCATION: Blu Jam Cafe is located at 7371 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, CA 90046.
  • HOURS: Now open daily from 8 AM until 5PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Both Alex and Jesse waited on us during our most recent visit to Blu Jam Cafe. Their professional demeanor and friendly positive attitudes are just one more reason you’ll enjoy dining here!
  • PRICE / VALUE: Great value, terrific prices and two very satisfied customers and fans here!
  • CORKAGE: $14 per bottle, however the establishment does serve beer, wine, and Jesse at the bar can make a pretty mean Sangria!
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available along Melrose Avenue and the surrounding side streets.
  • TOTAL BILL: On our first visit, we ordered the Californian Omelette and the Warm Mushroom Salad, which came to a total of $31.37. On our more recent visit, we selected one of Blu Jam Cafe’s Red Sangrias, the Turkey Pesto Panini, the Sauteed Salmon Entree and a square of the unbelievable Tres Leches Cake. After following Blu Jam Cafe on Twitter, they e-mailed us a 30% off coupon for our next trip there. We used that promotional discount on our last visit, which saved us $12.87, bringing our total to exactly $33.78. Just amazing!

Blu Jam Cafe on Urbanspoon

Blu Jam Cafe  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

JOAN’S ON THIRD… “A Little Slice Of Gourmet Heaven!”

A reputable catering and event planning company that has spun itself into a hugely successful gourmet cafe and market, Joan’s On Third has earned our vote for one of the best gourmet cafe markets around. Sophisticated, yet casual, Joan’s On Third will delight your culinary cravings, satisfy your unique market needs and have you running back to this family-owned-and-operated establishment for more!

With convenient ample seating along the storefront’s sidewalk, Joan’s On Third also offers strategically-placed accommodations inside the market. Along marble-countered windows, tucked away cafe tables in a corner just past one of the ordering counters, and at elongated community picnic-style tables, multiple groups of strangers and friends sit together to unite in their enjoyment in one of Joan’s On Third’s gourmet sandwiches, fine barista-brewed coffee beverages and other fine items inside the market. They all share a common ground…they love it here.

As my husband and I concurred with the obvious vote of the packed cafe brimming with customers that appeared like bees busy in their hive, we decided that we love it here, too. At first entry, a huge refrigerated cheese display greets you with every type of the tasty dairy product one’s mind can conjure up. I was in some sort of fantasy, I thought. A cheese fantasy called Joan’s On Third.

As we made our way around to an ordering station, the freshly-prepared morsels we witnessed through glass-housed display cases tempted us with vibrant hues and fresh aromas. An absolute daydream of brilliantly-colored gourmet eats and home-cooked favorites such as fresh-sliced fruit, grilled asparagus, spring bean salad (cucumber, corn and white beans), Waldorf shrimp salad, grilled maple rosemary chicken breasts, beef tenderloins, toasted couscous, Tree Oyster mushrooms, grilled vegetables, lentil salad, couscous (dried berries, toasted pine nuts and raspberry vinaigrette), grilled artichokes with balsamic vinaigrette, buttermilk squash salad (basil, pickled red onion, pine nuts and yogurt), originally-created wraps (chicken, Caesar and apricot-glazed ham), bulgar salad (pecans, currants and honey-orange dressing)…I could keep going, but this article would never end. In all, let’s just say that if you want it, Joan’s On Third either has it or can make it for you.

Beside the counter where we placed our orders, I couldn’t help but snap a photo of the delicious-looking fare right beside us! Fresh-baked Rosemary Chicken, colorful steamed spring vegetables, meats stewing in sauces and gravies resonating aromatic fragrances that made our mouths water…surely so savory and amazingly ambrosial that they should have broken some kind of laws in this city.

We were enamored by the huge sandwich menu hanging on a wall before us. Contemplating the many options, I noticed there was a short rib sandwich available. That meant my husband was going to select it for his lunch. I could see it coming! Lover of all things short rib, I was correct in my assessment, as my husband did in fact pick the short rib sandwich from the list of the many delectable choices. I decided on the Tarragon Chicken Salad sandwich without the bread over a bed of greens.

Walking away from the counter with a number for our table and a soda, we passed the above wall of shelved epicurean products. It literally took fifteen minutes for me to look at everything here before finally finding my husband at the table he selected for us outside! I was in some sort of gourmet nirvana that forced me to lose track of time in some way. This, for me, was like walking into Dean & Deluca…pure epicurean heaven!

Finally arriving at our table, we were greeted by a staff member who delivered a tall corked bottles of ice cold water. That was not only a nice gesture on the restaurant’s behalf, but also much needed due to the rising temperatures outdoors. Before we knew it, our ordesr were delivered by a smiling waiter…nothing took too long to receive, too long to answer or too long for someone to find out due to the more than twenty kitchen employees and servers I counted from where we sat on the patio. I’m sure there were even more than that. Despite the number, it certainly aided in no patron being left unattended to, which was very refreshing to witness.

Short Rib Sandwich

Behold…the Joan’s On Third Short Rib sandwich (above) with melted cheese, arugula, and sweet grilled red onions on a grilled Country White bread. Even the perfection of the way the kitchen staff wraps the parchment paper around their sandwiches is meticulously executed…

Tarragon Chicken Salad

The Tarragon Chicken Salad atop a bed of greens was creamy and appetizing. The enticing flavors from the tarragon in the chicken and the delightful crunch of apple and toasted pecans was spot on.

Joan’s On Third also offers a full gourmet coffee bar complete with professional barristas to assist you in selecting the perfect cup of coffee to compliment your meal. Of course, Joan’s On Third is still a popular catering company and event planning business, which will delight in catering your next special occasion, corporate event or any other reason for a beautifully appointed opportunity. We liked what we saw and experiences here, and recommend it to all of our readers!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Quaint, cozy, sophisticated without being too upscale, and a terrific place to get most any epicurean delicacy or trimming you have a desire for!
  • FOOD / DRINK: Fresh ingredients, quickly prepared, beautiful presentation and meticulous delivery of a pretty darn great sandwich and salad!
  • LOCATION: Joan’s On Third is located at 8350 West Third Street in Los Angeles, CA 90048.
  • HOURS: Joan’s On Third serves their patrons Monday through Saturday from 8 AM – 8 PM, and on Sundays from 8 AM – 6 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Servers and waitstaff swarm this venue making sure customers’ needs are unattended, orders are brought quickly to the tables and every employee remembers to smile and genuinely seems like they enjoy being there.
  • PRICE / VALUE: We feel the price was reasonable and comparable to other such restaurants with a market/cafe/kitchen concept. It can get a bit crowded, however, but we found that there is a smooth transition between arriving, getting a table and departing, as the venue is so large now compared to its size previously.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Joan’s On Third does not allow outside alcohol on the premises.
  • PARKING: There is parking behind the restaurant advertised on the restaurant’s website as well as metered street parking in front.
  • TOTAL BILL: We paid $25.82 for a canned soda, the Short Rib Sandwich and the Tarragon Chicken Salad (no bread, but placed on a bed of greens). We also had a tall icy cold bottle of water and cups delivered to the table for no additional charge.

Joan's on Third on Urbanspoon Joan's on Third Catering  Restaurant Reviews

* Menus and prices subject to change without notice.

BRICKS & SCONES… “Tea, Coffee and Simple Savory Bites!”

Another favorite spot we frequent quite a bit on Larchmont Boulevard is the green foliage-adorned one-of-a-kind coffee and tea cafe, Bricks & Scones. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for a quiet spot either outdoors on the red brick umbrella-flocked patio, or inside in one of the multiple spaces there.  I find myself going there often to read or work on my writing or on articles for SavorHour.com.  It’s relaxing and I really love being there. 

 Upon entering this quaint, cottage-esque coffee house, you will notice the massive fabric-draped chandelier hovering above you, while an intriguing spiral staircase wraps its way around it. What’s upstairs? A designated “quiet zone” with little nooks for reading, studying or just hiding yourself away while writing the next great American novel. (It could happen)! On the first floor inside, there is also a larger expanse with comfortable seating areas just past the ordering counter.

As you turn your attention back to the counter after admiring the beautiful decor of Bricks & Scones, a multitude of colorful chalk-written options are presented to you via several blackboards hanging everywhere you look. From hot and cold teas, savory hot and iced coffee selections, sweet temptations that will not allow you to pass them by and a board listing all-day breakfast options and meal choices from sandwiches and wraps to salads and soups and even bowls of fresh fruit. 

But my absolute favorite part is the relaxed and open feel of the patio, where colored umbrellas unite to shield patrons from the sun as well as enhance the already beautiful appeal of the courtyard. There are multiple outlets for powering electronics, and the red bricks that pave the way remind me of those Old St. Louis pavers that are commonly used to create driveways of southern plantation homes and winding garden paths. Wrought iron gates and tables adorn the out-of-doors area and the eclectic combination of planters, table-and-chair offerings and massive foliage and climbing ivy creates a perfect setting for letting one’s writing creativity roam free at last…free at last.

As we all know, creativity at any level will cause some form of mental exhaustion. If I could summon the power to never sleep or eat and just write 24 hours a day, I would. But that’s just not humanly possible for any of us. Not to worry, because Bricks & Scones has many solutions for that…

Above, the iced tea is refreshing, icy cold and delicious. I usually add a couple of slices of lemon to mine and a wee bit of sweetener. Sublime and definitely a boost well accepted.

Cashew Chicken Salad

Above, the delicious Cashew Chicken Salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, salted cashews, chopped chicken breast meat, dried cranberries and mouthwatering sweet house vinaigrette dressing.

Turkey Pesto Mozzarella Panini on Ciabatta Bread

Above and below, the Turkey Pesto Mozzarella Panini on Ciabatta bread. The flavor and experience you will have when you bite into this scrumptious sandwich will keep it in your memory forever.  Served with an arugula and tomato salad, the turkey, mozzarella, fresh basil and tangy-sweet balsamic glaze on this amazing provision will force you to return soon for more!

The Caprese Panini (below) is filled with creamy fresh mozzarella, tomato, flavorsome basil and that same incredible balsamic glaze that comes on the Turkey Pesto Mozzarella Panini…not sure how they make this balsamic glaze, but whatever they’re doing, we hope they keep it up! 

Caprese Panini

With the Caprese Panini, we enjoyed a bowl of Bricks & Scones’ Tomato Basil Soup. Made from scratch in the kitchen, this hot vessel of tomato goodness was rich with flavor and perfect for that cozy feeling when there’s a slight chill in the air some evenings.

Tomato Basil Soup

Red Velvet Cupcakes are back!!! Just one of the many desserts prepared at this family-owned-and-operated establishment with it’s own in-house bakery!

…try an enormous Chocolate Chip Cookie….

How about a generous square of delicious Apple Crumb Cake…

Apple Crumb Cake

And there’s nothing like a beautiful afternoon, a cool breeze blowing through treetops and a steaming mug of hot green tea flavored with the essence of grapefruit…

Bricks & Scones is also very proud of their environmentally-friendly policy. Their use of recycled paper bags, potato starch based biodegradable utensils, compostable cups and straws and other such items show just how much the owners care about our community and our charming neighborhood.

 INSIDER’S TIP: Other bonuses include free Wi-Fi and 10% off your tea or coffee order with a student ID or if you bring in your own mug! The kind friendly folks at Bricks & Scones are happy to help in any way they possibly can. They’ve already outdone themselves with this neighborhood gem!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Words cannot fully explain in detail what this place does for us. We’ve become habitual “Sconers!
  • FOOD / DRINK: Fresh, delectable food items and perfectly brewed coffees and teas.
  • LOCATION: Bricks & Scones is located just north of Beverly Boulevard at 403 North Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90004.
  • HOURSMonday through Thursday from 7:30 AM -10 PM, Fridays from 7:30 AM – 8 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 AM – 8PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Kind, friendly, helpful and resourceful.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Definitely an A+ in our book. Great value for what you receive.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No alcohol is allowed at Bricks & Scones.
  • PARKING: There is a small covered parking area behind the coffee house via a narrow driveway beside the venue. If no spots are available there, there is 2-hour metered street parking available.
  • TOTAL BILL: On our last visit, we ordered the Turkey Cashew Salad, the Turkey Pesto Mozzarella Panini and shared a large iced tea. That total came to $20.88. Not bad for what you get at this terrific neighborhood locals favorite!

Bricks and Scones on Urbanspoon Bricks & Scones  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

SPAGHETTI HOUSE BY ORRIS… “Little Plates With Enormous Flavor!”

UNFORTUNATELY, THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.

When my husband and I rave to others about the petite revamped Spaghetti House by Orris, they commonly inquire what the name means. After doing a bit of research, we found that the word “orris” is the root of the iris plant, which in age-old times it was combined with cinnamon and other spices to create love potions. Ironically, the name suits this establishment because when you dine at this eatery, you will feel, smell and taste love all around you. Don’t let the name on the building’s facade fool you, however. Just because it still says ‘Orris’, and because the menu says ‘Orris’ when it’s presented to you, and your check says ‘Orris Restaurant’ at the top, you ARE in deed at Spaghetti House by Orris!

Chef Hideo Yamashiro, known as Chef “Shiro” to most, closed down his original “Orris” restaurant at the quaint neighborhood location earlier this year in January. However, upon re-opening the same locale shortly thereafter, and renaming it Spaghetti House by Orris, it was transformed into a Japanese-essenced fusion pasta eatery. Chef Shiro also operates and owns Shiro restaurant in Pasadena, which we will HAVE to try on our next trek there. If the food at Spaghetti House by Orris is even the slightest indication of the experience of flavorsome cuisine we’ll find at Shiro, I know we’ll be happy to try it there as well.

Open for dinner only, and closed on Mondays, the open kitchen you will witness as you enter Spaghetti House by Orris is fun, bright and incredibly busy. At your first step through the front door, the savory aromas wafting throughout the restaurant will pull you inside and prove to your culinary intelligence that you have arrived at the right establishment for a meal not to soon be forgotten.

Above, Japanese glass bowls ornament the wall directly across from the open kitchen area, a glass of Cabernet before dinner, the chalk-written menu specials of the evening, a view of the kitchen staff in motion, the front of the menu, the posted sidewalk menu outside of the restaurant as you enter the establishment’s front patio, a view of one of the kitchen staff preparing a diner’s selection and a photo of the front patio dining space.

The menu is limited, but the selection will amaze your palate and visual senses. The dishes are pleasurable. Plain and simple. Chef Shiro is known for being “meticulously picky” about his fresh ingredients. The photos below are witness to that, and what we experienced at Spaghetti House by Orris recently…

Salmon Croquettes

Above and below, we started with Chef Shiro’s Salmon Croquettes. Quite a colorful and brilliant presentation. When cut into below, it just kept getting better. Delicious creamy salmon inside, a flavorful light crunch on the exterior texture and all around deliciousness! Other than my thinking about just a tiny spritz of lemon juice on these beautiful bites, they were sensational!

We then tried the Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Burrata and Parmesan below…tender slow-cooked eggplant, Burrata and Parmesan cheeses on top and flavor that just would not stop…

Japanese Grilled Eggplant With Burrata & Parmesan

Below, the Albacore Cups really impressed me personally. Hitting a hight point with me, the arugula surrounding the endive filled with seared Albacore tuna was such a delightful treat…beneath all that arugula lies perfectly seared Albacore tuna resting in the fresh leaves of endive…

Albacore Cups

After tasting three different savory appetizers, we moved on to the entrees. Below, the Shrimp Mouse Ravioli in A Shiitake Mushroom Sauce…delicate ravioli casings filled with savory shrimp mousse heightened even more by the Shiitake mushroom sauce it was accompanied by. Perfection in a bowl…

Shrimp Mouse Ravioli In A Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

Next, we tasted the Seafood Marinara dish below. A popular choice among locals at the restaurant and recommended by the waitstaff at the eatery…tender, perfectly-cooked sizeable scallops, shrimp and calamari intertwined with delicious and flavorful unforgettable marinara sauce and spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil…

Seafood Marinara

Our next selection was the pasta with a braised meat sauce, which was phenomenal. My husband could not stop exclaiming his love of this dish as the evening progressed…

Spaghetti & Meat Sauce

Below, the Mushrooms and Takana Mustard Greens with White Wine and Garlic was astounding. I chose this specifically, and my husband ate most of it before I could get back to it. A hidden sweetness, seemingly from caramelized onions in the dish, presented a refreshing flavor. A hearty and well-balanced finish…

Mushrooms & Takana Mustard Greens With White Wine & Garlic

We succumed to our sweet tooth after dinner by sharing a scoop of the Fogleman’s Chocolate Ice Cream. (Can I use the term “heaven in a bowl” twice in this article?) I especially liked the presentation…simple and effortless, the ice cream was served in a frosted dish that both served to keep the dessert cool as well as provide a visually-stimulating display…

Folgleman’s Chocolate Ice Cream

The bottom line…we enjoyed our culinary endeavor when we dined at Spaghetti House by Orris. Would we go back? Yes, we would. The cuisine is delicious and meticulously presented, flavor abounds in everything and one can tell that careful planning and artistic flair went into each dish designed and created by Chef Shiro himself. We enjoyed our dinner and were happy to write this review about such a terrific little restaurant!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: This eatery can get pretty packed, and reservations are not taken, so be prepared to wait a bit if you’re planning on dining here. There are tables on the covered front patio, but the waiters weren’t serving outside when we visited. The noise level inside was very loud, due to the acoustics of the small interior dining room. However, the colorful glass Japanese bowls hung on one wall, interior general feel of the place, business of the action in the open kitchen, aromas of the delicious dishes being prepared and finally, the flavor of the food ordered will force you to overlook the loudness of your neighbors dining around you.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Scrumptious cuisine, meticulous presentation, and well worth waiting if needed to get into this great little pasta house!
  • LOCATION: The restaurant is located at 2006 Sawtelle Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90025. It’s on the east side of Sawtelle Boulevard between Santa Monica and Olympic
  • HOURS: Spaghetti House by Orris is open only for dinner. Tuesday through Friday from 6 PM – 9:30 PM, Saturdays from 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM, Sundays from 5:30 PM – 9 PM, and the restaurant is closed on Mondays.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Helpful, ready to answer questions and give suggestions is needed.
  • PRICE / VALUE: We feel the price is well worth the value of what you will get at this eatery.
  • CORKAGE FEE: $12 per bottle.
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available. There is also parking behind the restaurant.
  • TOTAL BILL: Our total bill for everything came to over $65, but we would definitely recommending the splurge. A party of two could easily go to dinner for under $50 (including tax) by ordering two entrees for $11 or $12 a piece, sharing an appetizer and also a dessert.

Spaghetti House by Orris on Urbanspoon Orris  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

PALOMINO RESTAURANT & BAR… “Happy Hour All Day, Every Day!”

In the ten thousand block of Wilshire Boulevard in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, there’s a local restaurant and lounge called Palomino.  Known for it’s hardwood-fired Mediterranean cuisine and creative culinary menu, Palomino also offers a refreshing Happy Hour.  All day, every day in the immense lounge Monday through Friday from 11AM to Midnight, then Saturday and Sunday from 4PM into the late evening hours, a menu of unique and appetizing items are presented for your dining and sipping pleasure. We stopped in recently, curious what Palomino might have to offer in this terrific section of the city.  For a Sunday afternoon, it turned out to be the perfect place to enjoy an invigorating cocktail and a few of the delicious appetizers offered on their Happy Hour menu.

The bar in the lounge is massive. Certainly a great place to meet new friends and gather with others for special occassions and still have the spaciousness needed to have a great time without feeling overly crowded. We arrived around 6:30 PM, and the lounge wasn’t packed at all.  In fact, we quite enjoyed the this time of day there because even with eight tables occupied in the bar, we still felt as though we were the only ones there. We could hear each other talking and could carry on a conversation without screaming at the top of our lungs, which was appreciated.  The soft comfortable burgundy leather chairs offer somewhat of a steakhouse booth feel the instant you are seated.  Displayed art on the lounge walls is an eye-catching exhibition and a colorful contrast to the beautiful deep-colored wood and elongated marble bar complimented by a light colored polished floor.

Our server, Jeffrey, was incredibly attentive and adept.  He made suggestions from the ongoing Happy Hour items that proved to be flavorful as well as appealing to the eye.

Cranberry Mojito

 My husband tried Palomino’s Cranberry Mojito above.  It was crisp, refreshing, loaded with fresh mint leaves and had a cranberry essence that wasn’t too overpowering.  Incredible and a fairly large portion served in a tall glass.

Pomegranate Margarita

Above, I chose the Pomegranate Margarita.  Not too sweet.  Not too tart.  Just perfectly mixed by hand at the bar and garnished with a simple salted rim.

 We wanted to try one of the Happy Hour wines as well.  Since we are predominantly red wine aficionados, we chose the above Cabernet on the list, which our bartender graciously poured a sample of to try before having a full glass.  It wasn’t bad considering it wasn’t what we’re used to drinking, but when we asked what Palomino’s corkage fee is for future reference, we were told $13 in the lounge or the restaurant!  We’ll keep that in mind for next time!

On the Happy Hour appetizer front, we chose three items we thought we would enjoy: the Italian Sausage & Mushroom Pizza, the Grilled Mushroom Salad and we couldn’t resist the sound of the Mushroom & Cheese Risotto Croquettes! There seemed to be a mushroom theme going on since everything we ordered was made with the delightful and healthy fungi…

Italian Sausage & Mushroom Pizza

The Italian Sausage wasn’t too spicy, but it had the perfect amount of flavor.  Above, the thin crunchy crust was enjoyed by us both, while the zesty sauce and freshly-sliced mushrooms blended with cheese and fresh parsley on top completed the dish nicely.

Grilled Mushroom Salad

Above, the Grilled Mushroom Salad was a real treat.  Loaded with thickly-sliced mushrooms and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, the salad is then tossed in a delicious house vinaigrette and topped with walnuts over a pile of arugula.  We weren’t sure it would be large enough for the two of us to share, but it was.  And incredibly tasty!

Mushroom & Cheese Risotto Croquettes

Finally, the Mushroom and Cheese Risotto Croquettes arrived!  This dish arrives with two sauces for sipping.  The first from the left above, a creamy delectable mixture and not spicy, while the other on the right, a marinara-style solution with a zesty flavor.  Both terrific with these crispy-on-the-outside, yet creamy-and-bursting-with-flavor-on-the-inside croquettes.  Filled with perfectly-cooked risotto, gooey cheese and fresh mushrooms, this is a fried delight that you dare not miss out on! Below, we cut one of the croquettes in half to show you just how amazing the fillings of cheese, mushroom and risotto appear…

Overall, our experience at Palomino was satisfactory.  We can see ourselves returning soon, and maybe even bringing along some friends to enjoy the Happy Hour there!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Palomino’s Lounge is highlighted by it’s massive, rounded marble-topped dark wood bar, colorful artwork, comfortable leather chairs at low-top tables and an excellent view out of any of the huge wall windows in the cocktail lounge.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Freshly-prepared selections that are tasty and creatively presented.
  • LOCATION: Palomino is located in Westwood at 10877 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90024.
  • HOURS: Palomino Westwood is open for Lunch Monday through Friday from 11AM to 4PM, for Dinner from Sunday through Thursday from 5PM to 10PM then on Friday and Saturday from 5PM to 11PM, and the Bar Area is available Monday through Friday from 11AM to Midnight and Saturday and Sunday from 4PM to 11PM.  Happy Hour is presented all day, every day in the bar.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Our waiter and bartender, Jeffrey, was very professional, was happy to make suggestions and answer questions and was genuinely pleasant.
  • PRICE / VALUE: For what we ordered, and the quality of the drinks and bites we enjoyed, we felt satisfied that we got a decent value for the money.
  • CORKAGE FEE: $13 per bottle in the lounge or in the restaurant.
  • PARKING: Valet parking is available right outside the restaurant, however there is ample metered street parking right across the street that is very convenient as well.
  • TOTAL BILL: $36.82 (including tax) for the Italian Sausage and Mushroom Pizza, Grilled Mushroom Salad, Mushroom & Cheese Risotto Croquettes, a Cranberry Mojito, a Pomegranate Margarita and a glass of their Happy Hour Cabernet.

Palomino Euro Bistro on Urbanspoon Palomino Euro Bistro  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

HOUSE OF CHAN DARA SIAMESE KITCHEN… “How Did We Ever Miss This?”

As many times as we have frequented the char-ming Larchmont Boulevard in mid-city Los Angeles, we’ve never stopped in at Chan Dara restaurant. It’s sits modestly on the north side of the boulevard, and expels a modest ivy-covered exterior, cleverly blending into the quaintness of the entire area. We were introduced to Chan Dara by a friend who suggested we meet him for their daily Happy Hour, as he had been several times before and was extremely pleased with what he discovered. (Thanks for the recommendation, Gene!) We did just that and soon realized what he had been raving about. We also couldn’t figure out how we ever missed this great eatery!

Chan Dara’s Happy Hour is offered Monday through Friday from 5-7PM, while on Saturdays and Sundays it lasts from 5-6 PM, specifically in the bar area. You can elect to take a seat at the bar, or one of several cozy corner seating areas or seats along the windows with colorful cushions. Simple and unobtrusive, the bar conveys elements of ease and a very casual ambiance.

Just outside large windows, you’ll see the Chan Dara patio complete with flowing fountains, umbrellas shielding their tables and visitors from the sun, and in the evenings when darkness prevails, romantic lighting for an intimate dinner. Concealed from the sidewalk by an ivy-cloaked sur-rounding wall, the patio is a great place for non-Happy Hour dining.

Chan Dara’s Happy Hour menu offers outrageous bargains on their already low-priced appetizers and cocktails. Try 50% off everything on their Happy Hour menu…drinks AND appetizers! Though not a full bar like it’s sister restaurant on West Pico Boulevard, the Larchmont Boulevard Chan Dara offers…wait for it….TWENTY-THREE COCKTAILS utilizing the popular Soju substitute. In addition to those concoctions, there are TWENTY-TWO beer selections, five wine choices and sake.

A few of those Soju-laden martinis include the following: (Clockwise from top left) the Lychee Martini, the Raspberry Martini, the Mango Martini and the Raspberry Lemondrop Martini.

But the cocktails at Chan Dara are only half of the fun at this quaint neighborhood venue. A list of delightful freshly-prepared appetizers will delight your senses and amaze your visual perception with the presentation alone! Below are some of the incredibly delicious items at 50% off the already low Happy Hour menu that we have tried:

The Saigon Spring Rolls (above) wrapped in delicate chilled rice sheets are filled with glass noodles, bean sprouts, scallions and fresh large shrimp. Served with Chan Dara’s sweet and sour tamarind sauce, it was the perfect starter. Below, the Mixed Green Salad is a great simple salad bursting with flavor. A peanut dressing, pictured here, or an option of a sesame vinaigrette can be ordered with this dish. We favor the peanut dressing!

The Beef Tenderloin Satay (sold in four or six skewers) are amazing. Marinated and grilled on wooden skewers, the tender flavorful beef is complimented with peanut sauce and a sweet cucumber salsa (above). Below, thinly sliced calamari is sauteed in a garlic wine sauce and masako is a unique treat. If the sauce alone was offered as a broth selection on the menu, I would order it every time we visit it’s so savory!

The Chicken Satay is also marinated on wooden skewers (above), and is served with peanut sauce and a cucumber salsa like the Beef Tenderloin Satay. Tender and mouthwatering, the Chicken Satay is another wonderful offering on the menu. Below, the Nam, lean ground pork seasoned with chili, lime juice, cilantro, onion, ginger and cashew nuts is a conglo-meration of deliciousness in one dish! I loved how the fresh cilantro and fresh lime on top enhanced the essence of the entire dish.

INSIDER’S TIP: The Nam is prepared “spicy”, however, you may request it to be cooked “mild” or “non-spicy”. We chose “mild”, and it was still too spicy for us both! (However, I did take the rest of it home with me, and finished it later in the evening despite the heat!)

Chan Dara on Larchmont is a new favorite of ours for great Thai cuisine. The establishment is simple, cozy and casual, while the portions are large and presentations of their cuisine are a sight to behold.

ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Casual-cozy with a patio that is ideal for the romantic evening dinner or a memorable lunch on the weekends.

FOOD / DRINK: Eye-catching presentation, savory flavors, unique options and superb quality.

LOCATION: Chan Dara is located at 310 Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90004.

HOURS: Chan Dara Larchmont is open Monday – Thursday from 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Fridays from 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM, Saturdays from 12:30 AM – 11:00 PM, and Sundays from 12:30 AM – 10:00 PM. Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday from 5 PM to 7 PM, and from 5 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Both food and beverage must be purchased in order to receive the 50% off Happy Hour discount in the bar.

SERVICE / STAFF: The staff is attentive and friendly, while the service is quick and reliable.

PRICE / VALUE: Well worth the price for such a value. We were amazed by the overly-reduced prices of the 50% off Happy Hour menu…on TOP of the already-low appetizer items!

CORKAGE FEE: $15 per bottle

CONTACT INFO: Phone: (323) 467-1052, Website: www.chandararestaurants.com

PARKING: Valet parking is available at the front of the restaurant, but we usually just park along Larchmont’s many metered street parking spaces under one of the shady trees.

TOTAL BILL: One visit to Chan Dara, we ordered the Saigon Spring Rolls (normally $8.50), the 6-piece Beef Tenderloin Satay (normally $13.50), a Mixed Green Salad (on the regular menu for $4.95), and we lost track of the martinis and wine we all had because we were entertaining. That bill totaled right under $60, which would have normally been a $120 bill, but everything was 50% off! HOWEVER…recently, my husband and I went back during Happy Hour and had the 4-piece Chicken Satay, the Calamari Chardonnay, the Nam and three cocktails bringing that total to $28.22 (including tax)! For the value of what we got, the filling portions and the rock-bottom pricing during Happy Hour for the quality of the items offered, Chan Dara Larchmont lands as one of SavorHour.com’s top recommendations for Happy Hour!

Chan Dara on Urbanspoon

House of Chan Dara  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

PINK TACO MEXICAN RESTAURANT@ CENTURY CITY WESTFIELD MALL… “Happy Hour Heaven!”

Another Century City favorite on the Savor Hour list is Pink Taco. Named after a popular dish on the menu, (the Pink Taco…Yucatan-style “panuchos” with achiote grilled chicken, black beans, habanero, pickled onions, avocado and cotija cheese), this handsomely-decorated, vivacious Mexican canteen with a massive bar offers seating outside overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard on a beautifully-designed “see-and be-seen” patio, or indoors in the lounge at the bar or one of numerous cozy booths or tables. At Happy Hour, be prepared for a nightclub feel with heart-pumping music and pink-tinted colored lights above many of the indoor booths. This place is fun, exciting and if the atmosphere doesn’t get your heart beating a little faster than when you came in, the food and cocktails certainly will.

You can’t miss this restaurant. Pink Taco is perched high above street level overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard.  Pink walls, pink neon signage, pink lighting, even pink cocktails are available!  But don’t let the color fool you. Inside, the stylish persona of this establishment only continues and is carried throughout from beginning to end from the way the hostesses greet you, to the way you’re treated by the servers, to the amazing Mexican dishes and cool refreshing beverages available. A fantastic Mexican restaurant and bar with a rock-n-roll edge, Pink Taco will suit your every craving from the perfect margarita to the best originally-created Mexican delights you’ve ever had.

Pink Taco’s Happy Hour offers the best of their favorites, both quenching and appetizing. Noted as one of L.A.’s best Happy Hours, the menu will show you why that came to be.  In the bar and patio Monday through Sunday from 3-7PM, you can indulge in half-priced drinks and $6 appetizers.  That’s FOUR HOURS of happiness at half price!  Adult beverages include all well drinks, all wines by the glass, all imported and domestic beers, Sangria Blanca, Sangria Rosa, Pink Taco’s Signature House Margarita, the Pink Taco Margarita, Tequila Maria, Michelada, Original Mojitos, Raspberry Mojitos, and the Peach, Mango and Strawberry Margaritas. 

But we haven’t touched on any appetizers yet, have we?  Well, you’ll enjoy this lineup because it’s filled with delicious temptations to suit any mood.  For just six dollars, you can choose Nachos with Cheese, Chicken or Steak, the Homemade Guacamole, the Signature Queso Dip, Tamarino Glazed Chicken Skewers, Quesadillas with Cheese, Chicken or Steak, the Sweet Corn Tamales, Short Rib Taquitos, Chicken Flautas or Tortilla Soup.

We have experienced a few items from Pink Taco’s Happy Hour and regular menus.  The Signature House Margarita, made with Sauza Blanco Tequilla, fresh-pressed lime, orange Curacao and agave nectar is just $5 at Happy Hour and is sure to satisfy your curiosity and quench your thirst.  My husband enjoyed that as well as the Mango Margarita.  I tried their Signature Cocktail, the Pink Taco Margarita…

Has there ever been a time when you’ve had a cocktail that you just loved so much you didn’t want to try anything else on the menu?  Well, that’s what happened to me after enjoying one of these flavorsome pink libations!  What’s funny is that there are over thirty cocktails on Pink Taco’s beverage menu, and I couldn’t tear myself away from this delicious brew! In fact, this cocktail is so popular, Pink Taco published the recipe on their blog! (I’ll have to make some time between researching restaurants, writing and posting our blogs to make this one myself)!  This one is certainly a winner in my book. Here’s the recipe for those of you who might be interested in trying your hand at this pink perfection… 

PINK TACO MARGARITA RECIPE

2 oz Tequila Blanco

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Gran Mariner

1 oz Agave Nectar

2 oz Sweet and Sour Mix

2 Lime Wedges (Squeezed)

1/2 oz Hibiscus Tea or Syrup (there’s that Hibiscus syrup again!)

Servers don’t hesitate to pile on fresh hearty chips with a spicy salsa to accompany the crunchy delights that are presented on wax paper inside of a galvanized metal pail at your table.  Be careful with these tasty crisps, because it’s not hard to fill up on these before ordering your appetizers or something off the main menu to feast on!

Pink Taco’s Chips and Salsa

Pink Taco Margarita, Mango Margarita and a Shot of Tequila with Lime and Salt

The Sweet Corn Tamale off the Happy Hour food menu is colorful and filling with its crunchy grilled corn kernels, fresh ground masa, roasted poblano chiles, queso fresco, pico de gallo and cooling drizzle of sour cream on top enhances your awareness of fine Mexican cuisine.

Sweet Corn Tamale

The Steak Quesadilla was another favorite of ours of the Happy Hour food selections. Encased in a  delicate tortilla, this three-cheese blend concoction of juicy chunks of lean steak accompanied by heaping mounds of chilled sour cream, creamy guacamole and salsa.

Steak Quesadilla

An Inside Look at the Tender Plentiful Steak Inside the Steak Quesadillas

We try, as best we can, to order items that stick to the Happy Hour menu, or if the venue we’re reviewing doesn’t have a Happy Hour, we at least stay with items that don’t exceede our “under-fifty-dollars-or-less-including-tax” rule.  So we’re going to notate two separate visits to Pink Taco in our “TOTAL BILL” section at the bottom of this blog showing two options you can chose (if you’d like to follow our menu selections).  On one visit, we ordered drinks and shared an item off the main menu, while on the other visit, we ordered cocktails and Happy Hour food items.  Not a huge deal, we just wanted to show both because the food is really scrumptious!

Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket Enchiladas

You MUST try the Slow Roasted Brisket Enchiladas (above and below)! They come two to an order and are more than enough to feed two people.  I had to have my husband finish the rest of the one I was eating because I just didn’t have any more room!  Splitting this dish as an appetizer in the bar was a great idea.  The visual presentation was beautiful, as well as the tender melt-in-your-mouth slow-roasted pulled beef brisket hidden inside the tender tasty casings.  The Mexican cheeses give the perfectly-cooked-to-perfection beef a nice flavor and hold everything together.  The Salsa Colorado enhances it with a nice finish.  The dish is served with sides of Mexican red rice and refried beans on a separate plate that is so huge, you’ll be wishing there was an additional body in your party to help you polish everything off! The rice is tender and full of flavor, while the refried beans are a delightful and filling extension. 

Mexican Rice and Refried Beans

Below, you can see the inside of the Slow Roasted Brisket Enchilada.  So savory, so delicious, and so appetizing, this will be a certain re-order the next time we visit!

Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket Enchilada

Oh, and we almost forgot!  Don’t miss Taco Tuesdays at Pink Taco!  During happy hour from 3-7PM, if you buy a pitcher of their fantastic select Margaritas, you’ll get a pitcher FREE! (That just might require you to bring along a few of your friends to polish both pitchers off successfully)!

  • DECOR / ESTABLISHMENT: The trendy and hip vibe with a rock ‘n’ roll edge feel brings life and excitement to this venue.  Pinks, bold accent colors and an eclectic collection of decor exist in abundance making the entire establishment a great conversation piece.  Lots of space, a great outdoor patio and a terrific feel.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Delectable Mexican cuisine, tasty chilled cocktails and an array of fun-filled selections on the menu.
  • LOCATION: 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90067 (at the Westfield Century City Mall).
  • HOURS Pink Taco is available to serve you Sunday through Thursday from 11:30AM – 11PM, then on Friday & Saturdays from 11:30AM – Midnight. Happy Hour is available daily from 3PM – 7PM, then again every evening from 10PM  to closing.
  • SERVICE / STAFFThere are always smiling hostesses to greet us upon arrival, friendly and knowledgeable bartenders mixing cocktails and kind servers ready to take your order as soon as you take a seat.  Each time we’ve visited Pink Taco, we’ve been fortunate enough to have Andrian serve us.  Always a smile on her face and a great attitude, we’re always appreciative of her immaculate customer service and attentiveness!
  • PRICE / VALUE: We feel for the price of the food and coktails charged that we are getting a fair value.  The food is always prepared fresh, and the cocktails are always hand-made and served up chilled to perfection.
  • CORKAGE FEE$20 per bottle
  • PARKING: Pink Taco will be more than happy to validate your parking ticket.  We recommend parking in the “Blue” section of the parking garage beneath the mall and taking the escalator in that section up two floors.  When you get off the escalator, turn to your left and take the outdoor escalator up one more level, and you will be delivered right in front of Pink Taco (it’s next door to The Container Store). With three hours validation available, you’ll have ample time to enjoy yourself at Happy Hour or any hour!
  • TOTAL BILL: $44.15 (including tax) for a Steak Quesadilla, a Sweet Corn Tamale, three Pink Taco Margaritas, one frozen Mi Casa Strawberry margarita and one shot of Tequila (that’s one visit).  On another visit, our total bill was $43.50 (including tax) for a main menu order of the Slow Roasted brisket Enchilladas, two Pink Taco Margaritas, a Mi Casa Mango Margarita on the rocks and one shot of Tequila. You won’t hear us complaining!

Pink Taco on Urbanspoon

Pink Taco  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

ROCKSUGAR PAN ASIAN KITCHEN… “An Asian Experience!”

My husband and I have always had a distinct admiration for all things of Oriental origin. Rugs, sculptures, murals, furniture, teapots, statues, fountains, garden stools, hand-made jewelry, music…we just can’t seem to get enough of the tranquil zen that one encounters with that sector of the world. On a recent visitation to the well-known Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles, we realized that we had found a new reverence to add to our growing list…RockSugar.

Upon entering beneath a massive ornate entryway, a darkened corridor entices you to find what unfolds ahead. As we made our way through the passageway, the melody of singing birds blended well with the intonations of flowing water and Oriental music. Two benches placed on either side of this breadth forced me to conjure up thoughts of possibly just sitting there with my husband for a few minutes before moving onward. It was so peaceful. Deciding to continue on as we admired the tranquil feel of this zone, we arrived at the out-of-doors patio area, where the visual and auditory enchantment continued.

Above, photos of the indoor bar, another view of the main entrance and the darkened mysterious corridor that leads patrons onto the outdoor patio.

The outdoor patio area is an extension of the indoor bar area, and quite a rewarding spectacle. Eight comfortable lounging sofas are strategically placed around four table-surrounded glass-encased fire pits atop a heated floor. Enormous vases of pottery filled with wooden stalks and wire mesh bubbles salute those who walk through their abode. Towering sculptured wall panels provide intrigue, while welcoming natural tones and live plants in tremendous planters provide beauty and privacy between the seating arrangements. Overhead, imitative sky lanterns seemingly float above you as you dine. We thought this was a lovely finishing touch, and definitely a conversation piece for those who feast beneath them or walk below their alluring position.

As evening quickly approaches, the sky lanterns become more incandescent as the sky continues to darken. If you plan the time of day accordingly, you can witness the magic of the sky lanterns against a color-changing heaven above. Sky lanterns, also called sky candles, have been used in Asian traditions for hundreds of years.

Used all year round in Thailand for special occasions and celebrating, it is also considered good luck to release a sky lantern into the air. In Thai culture, this act is symbolic of problems and worries floating away. These lanterns are also incorporated into Chinese festivals. In Taiwan, they can be seen being released into the night sky during their annual Lantern Festival by the thousands!

RockSugar presents their RockTail Hour every day from 4-6:30PM. During this time, you can be delighted and charmed by the unique array of cocktail and appetizer choices. For just $6 each, you can enjoy any of these RockTails: the Blood Orange Mojito, the Orchard Road Martini, the Sake Dragon, Yuzu Cherry Gimlet, the Tamarind Margarita, and the Bourbon Sling. Well RockTails are just $5 each, as well as select wines by the glass. Beer enthusiasts can also endulge in select brews for only $4.

Colorful Cocktails In the Perfect Environment

Our all-time favorite of the RockTails are the Blood Orange Mojito, the Orchard Road Martini and the Sake Dragon. The Blood Orange Mojito is my husband’s usual potion at Rock Sugar. The flavor is unlike anything else we’ve quite put our finger on before, and made with Bacardi Superior Rum, blood orange and mint. My personal favorite is the Orchard Road Martini. This concoction is created using Vodka, Gin, St. Germain Liqeur, Lemongrass and Hibiscus. Packing enough punch after having only one, I usually endure a second (and sometimes a third) of these sumptuous pink cocktails. The Sake Dragon is our third recommendation on the RockTail front. Vodka, sake, St. Germain Liqeur, Mint, Shiso and lime top this green-colored jewel off leaving you craving another when you’re done! You’ll notice RockSugar’s RockTails are not only not lacking flavor (or liquor), but also that they are extremely enticing to the eye. The Sake Dragon is a beautiful shade of light green, while the Blood Orange Mojito appears in a luminous orange shade. My favorite, the Orchard Road Martini, arrives perfectly pink with a dark layer of Hibiscus Liqeur that tops the beverage off with an intriguing appearance.

Rice Crackers and Cocktails

During RockTail Hour, smiling servers stop by your sofa to take your order, and rice crackers (above) are delivered with a spicy zesty dipping sauce. These crackers are light, airy, and peppered with poppy seeds throughout and are visually appealing as well.

The RockBites Menu will take you to a place far away with their Crispy Chicken Samosas, Potstickers, Indian Stuffed Flatbread, Vegetarian Stuffed Flatbread and Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls for $3 each. Fifty cents more will allow for RockSugar’s tempting Chicken Satay. For $4 a piece, try their Chicken Tikka, the Crispy Imperial Rolls or the Green Mango and Papaya Salad. The Chicken and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps come in at an easy $4.50, while for $5.50 each, the Thai Crispy Chicken Wings and Crispy Sweet-Hot Shrimp only add to the entire archive of delectables.

Some of our favorites there include the Chicken Samosas, the Potstickers, the Indian Stuffed Flatbread, the Vegetable Spring Rolls, the Mushroom Lettuce Wraps and the Thai Basil Cashew Chicken…

Chicken Samosas

Vegetable Spring Rolls & Potstickers

Indian Flat Bread

Thai Basil Cashew Chicken

RockSugar has landed on the Savor Hour list for numerous reasons. Style, decor, Asian essence, enchantment, great food and cocktails and excellent prices anyone could appreciate. Put a little Asian cuisine and RockTails into your evening hours at RockSugar in Century City. You will arrive with satisfied expectations and leave with the same!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Stunning Asian-style decor, flowing fountains, up-kept grounds and colorful eye-catching details everywhere you look.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Savory appetizers and flavorful cocktails entertain the palate, while arousing essences tantalize the whole being of those that try any of the RockBites or RockTails!
  • LOCATION: Westfield Mall-Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90067.
  • HOURS: RockSugar serves Lunch Monday through Sunday from 11:30AM – 5PM, Dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5PM – 10PM, then also on Fridays and Saturdays from 5PM-11PM, and offers their incredible Happy Hour called “Rocktail Hour” daily from 4PM – 6:30PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Service on the patio can be hit-or-miss. It disappoints us to write this, as the food, drinks, and atmosphere are incredible. We’ve never met a server there who wasn’t friendly or kind. However, the wait times can be very long. As many times as we’ve visited and received great prompt service, it really surprises us to find that sometimes, unfortunately, the service can be very inconsistent. Hopefully, your experience will be a “hit” and not a “miss”. If it isn’t be prepared to wait for a while if you’re seated on the patio.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Great value, great prices, great selection!
  • CORKAGE FEE: $15 per bottle any day, any time, no restrictions. In other words, Happy Hour applies! (Yay!)
  • PARKING: RockSugar will gladly validate your parking ticket. You are allowed up to three hours free in the parking garage if validated at RockSugar in the Westfield mall, so don’t forget! Try to find a parking space in the “Blue” section of the parking garage. It’s the closest to RockSugar. Two floors up, turn to your left when you come off the escalator on the top floor, and you will see RockSugar just past the outdoor escalator between The Counter and Gulfstream restaurants.
  • TOTAL BILL: $35.91 for two Orchard Road Martinis, two Blood Orange Mojitos, an order of the Chicken Samosas, a plate of the Potstickers and the Indian Stuffed Flatbread. Very fairly-priced considering the atmosphere, ambiance and quality of the food and beverages offered.

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen on Restaurantica

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

BLVD 16 LOUNGE @ HOTEL PALOMAR… “Updated Happy Hour Menu!”

BLVD 16 Lounge now offers a “Unite Your Bites” feature on their amended Bar Bites list (right). You can create your own combination of bites with the Mini Tasty Burgers, Fish Tacos and Short Rib Sliders. 1 for $3, 2 for $5, and 4 for $10.  What a creative idea!  New to the menu are the Carlsbad Oysters and the Chicken Skewers.  Not in this group of fine delectables any longer are the Buffalo Chicken Wings and the Mini Chop.

INSIDER’S TIP: We were informed that the former “Mini Chop” Bar Bites item from the last menu is still available if you ask your server or bartender!  It’s not printed on the new menu, but they are happy to prepare one for you nevertheless! (You can see photos of most of the Bar Bites in the April 17, 2012 Blog posting on SavorHour.com, as well as in this posting below).

Being a Sunday, (a “free corkage” night in the lounge and restaurant), we shared a bottle of wine together that we brought with us and dove right in to the updated BLVD 16 Bar Bites menu.  In our April 17th blog, we experienced the Mini Tasty Burger, the Short Rib Slider, the BLVD 16 Hummus, The Fish Taco, the Herb Fries and the Mini Chop. This time, we had the opportunity to try some new things…and they were incredible! After conversing for a few minutes and each indulging in a glass of vino, we ordered the newly added Carlsbad Oysters for $3 each, the Chicken Skewers plate for $5 and the Daily Flatbread for $7.

Carlsbad Oysters

The Carlsbad Oysters were exquisite. Served on the half shell, and enhanced with a grapefruit “granite” (French for “ice”), these shellfish were refreshing and a delightful celebration of flavor. They were an amiable precursor to the Chicken Skewers we had next.

Chicken Skewers

The Chicken Skewers come four skewers to an order, and for just $5, you won’t believe the amount of food you get when they’re brought to your table.  Produced with a decorative and colorful array of fresh carrots and greens with a container of chilled creamy Bleu Cheese on the side, this dish is sure to please the palate of the spicy-loving patron.

INSIDER’S TIP: The Chicken Skewers were tender and cooked to perfection, but be aware that they are ‘buffaloed” and VERY SPICY! So if you’re an admirer of the spicy side of things, then this appetizer if for you!

I decided to try one of the BLVD 16 “Rush Hour” (4-7PM and again from 10PM – Midnight) Monday through Sundays) well drinks while we waited for our third appetizer for the night. I ordered a Cape Cod and Reubin returned with it in no time.  It was crisp, chillingly exhilarating and thoroughly gratifying.  Serving up $3 wines, $4 beers and $5 wines, the Rush Hour menu has also been updated to suit patrons now TWICE throughout the evening from 4PM – 7PM, then again from 10 PM -Midnight every day! BLVD 16′s ‘Rush Hour’ is now twice as fun! 

BLVD 16 Cape Cod

The Daily Flatbread is a Flatbread delight that the BLVD 16 Chef specially prepares each day.  Our daily preparation was the Chorizo Flatbread.  Crisped to perfection in the BLVD 16 kitchen, and topped with Chorizo, crumbly cheese, halved cherry tomatoes and red onion.  Not only was this item pleasing to the visual and olfactory senses, but it was a real treat for the palate as well.  Just a touch of spiciness. and a heaping amount of delectability!

Daily Flat Bread Presentation – Chorizo

The tomatoes burst with juicy flavor once devoured.  The oven-crisped foundation an excellent source of crunch beneath.  All ingredients played a melodious role in the end result.  

Upon leaving BLVD 16 this time, as we were on our way out of the hotel, I snapped a few photos of the hotel lobby and some other quite unique sights that I feel are worth mentioning. Though SavorHour is a blog about food and wine (and cocktails, too), and not traveling or lodging at this point, I felt it necessary to share some aspects of the Palomar Hotel with our readers being that BLVD 16 is inside such an establishment.  (Who knows where this may lead in the future)!  As I mentioned in our BLVD 16 April 15th post, the Palomar Hotel is known for it’s friendly acceptance and catering to animals.  This, of course, if something my husband and I truly support, as we are animal lovers ourselves.  Below are photos of the “Welcome” sign for pets checking into the hotel,  (I know…how great is that), and additionally, some pictures of the hotel lobby for your visual enjoyment…

Above, the living room area in front of a roaring fireplace in the hotel lobby, the volorful hallway behind the BLVD 16 Lounge, an alternate view of the living room area from another angle in the lobby, the Hotel palomar welcome water bowls for furry guests with their names written on a bone-shaped chalkboard and an old-fashioned bicycle that guests are allowed to take advantage of while at the hotel that’s parked in the lobby! Below, various views of the arched sofa against the red mirrored wall, another view of the fireplace, the stunning intricately-designed wood floors and the hotel’s main entrance.

And don’t forget to stop in on Thursdays from 5PM to 6:30 PM to hear the classic acoustic sounds of Jake & Drew in the lobby. Jake Stone and Drew Nichols came together with a common goal. To play the music they love and to enhance the lives of those who listen to their clear acoustic style. Both talented vocalists and guitarists, Jake and Drew perform every Thursday at the Hotel Palomar on Wilshire Boulevard from 5PM to 6:30 PM. If you haven’t heard of them, remember their name. Because we guarantee that you will be hearing of them soon. Since we were introduced to these two entertainers, we’ve made a point to not miss a single performance. Hearing them for the first time, we were amazed. We expected a lot due to what others had told us about them, but we had no idea what we were in for until we heard them for ourselves.

 Hailing from Missouri, Jake Stone’s strong lead vocals combine well with Oklahoma-born Drew Nichols’ mastery as Lead Guitarist.  Ranging from popular favorites from the 60s to present day popular hits, theirs is a twenty-year combined acoustic talent that forces one to think, urges one to reflect and encourages one to be inspired. Together, their life-enriching, top-notch sound and touching method of delivering happiness to all who listen to their music will leave you spellbound. Performing for scheduled weddings, birthday celebrations and special ocassion events, you can also hear Jake & Drew perform regularly every Thursday at the Hotel Palomar at 10740 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA in the Westwood neighborhood. You can contact Jake & Drew directly at jakeanddrewmusic.com.

  • DECOR / ESTABLISHMENT: I think the above pictures speak for themselves, but overall, the decor and the property are colorful, eye-catching, modern and well-maintained.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Refreshing cocktails and scrumptious Bar Bites made with fresh and exciting ingredients are just one of the many reasons we keep coming back!
  • LOCATION: 10740 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90024.
  • HOURS: BLVD 16′s ‘Rush Hour’ is now offered TWICE a night! From 4PM – 7PM, then again from 10:30PM – Midnight and serving up $3 wines, $4 beers and $5 cocktails. The ‘Bar Bites’ menu is available from 4PM – 10:30 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: As always, the staff impresses.  Especially Issac, the BLVD 16 Manager and Reuben, the bartender in the lounge.  They both exude professionalism, kindness, and continuously welcome us back.
  • PRICE / VALUE: You don’t just get what you pay for at BLVD 16…you get more!  Terrific service, inventive dishes in BLVD 16 and constant rapport between staff and customer that does not go unnoticed.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No corkage fee Sundays through Wednesdays in the lounge or restaurant (up to 2 bottles), then $20 per bottle Thursday through Saturday.
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available, as well as complimentary Valet in the front of the Palomar Hotel entrance.
  • TOTAL BILL$28.51 (Including tax) for four Carlsbad Oysters, an order of the Chicken Skewers, A Daily Flatbread creation, a Cape Cod (on “Rush Hour”), and free corkage  for the bottle of wine we brought in to enjoy.

BLVD 16 on Urbanspoon

Boulevard 16 - Hotel Palomar Westwood on Restaurantica

Boulevard 16  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

JAKE & DREW…”Inspiring Acoustic Guitarists and Vocalists!

Jake Stone and Drew Nichols came together with a common goal. To play the music they love and to enhance the lives of those who listen to their clear acoustic style. Both talented vocalists and guitarists, Jake and Drew perform every Thursday at the Hotel Palomar on Wilshire Boulevard. If you haven’t heard of them, remember their name. Because we guarantee that you will be hearing of them soon. Since we were introduced to these two entertainers, we’ve made a point to not miss a single performance.

Hearing them for the first time, we were amazed. We expected a lot due to what others had told us about them, but we had no idea what we were in for until we heard them first hand. Hailing from Missouri, Jake Stone’s strong lead vocals combine well with Oklahoma-born Drew Nichols’ mastery as Lead Guitarist.  Ranging from popular favorites from the 60s to present day popular hits, theirs is a twenty-year combined acoustic talent that forces one to think, urges one to reflect and encourages one to be inspired. Together, their life-enriching, top-notch sound and touching method of delivering happiness to all who listen to their music will leave you spellbound. Performing for scheduled weddings, birthday celebrations and special occasion events, you can also hear Jake & Drew perform regularly every Thursday at the Hotel Palomar at 10740 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA in the Westwood neighborhood. You can contact Jake & Drew directly at jakeanddrewmusic@gmail.com.