The Stalking Horse Brewery & Freehouse British Brewpub in West (End) LA

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A little over one year ago in September 2017, the Artisanal Brewers Collective (co-founded by Tony Yanow, formerly of Golden Road Brewing) opened the doors to its English-style pub just down the street from Pico Playhouse in West LA. With the recent launch of their Sunday Funday Special ($20 bottle of rosé with purchase of any entrée!), this is an absolute must for some weekend brunch action!

Right when you walk in, you’ll notice the design of the space (by Spacecraft), which resonates as British brewhouse with an upscale, contemporary vibe. At the front, you’re greeted by the main bar, followed by the six stainless steel brewing tanks housed behind a glass-windowed wall. The main restaurant space is adorned with Edison-bulb chandeliers and opens up to a beautiful back patio of communal tables and hung foliage.

In addition to their dedication to brew craft and design, The Stalking Horse is also distinctive as an LA pub in that it is very vegan-friendly. Executive Chef Trevor Faris oversees the restaurants side of ABC’s properties and is well-known for having delicious vegan options on the menu.

Kicking off our Sunday Morning (View) Brunch was the Stalking Horse Breakfast,

which is an absolute must if you’re looking for a taste of traditional British pub fare. We ordered this entrée with the pork belly rasher and Yorkshire pudding (vegan options are griddled avocado and crispy bread, respectively). As egg lovers, we added on the two sunny eggs, which were great as an additional dipping accompaniment.

But those baked beans though… We never imagined we could enjoy baked beans so much. The consistency is on point, and the seasoning has a hint of spice that really makes it stand out! And it goes with absolutely everything on the plate, particularly the Yorkshire pudding and the dipping chips (note: British chips = American fries, and they’re usually thick).

If your prep-for-holiday-feasting body is craving a salad, the Root Salad

is a vibrantly popular choice. We were absolutely delighted to see this plate of beautifully stacked kohlrabi, carrots, and beets, topped with a generous helping of rocket (note: British rocket = American arugula). The salad rests on a layer of black garlic dressing and sprinkled with toasted walnuts. Pro-tip: this salad is for those that really enjoy their dressing; if you like minimal dressing, ask for it on the side.

If you’re in the mood for an extra hearty kind of meal, that’s the Eggy In The Basket.

The Stalking Horse version of this classic fried-egg-in-toast dish is to smother it in their delicious chicken potpie filling. This comfort dish is guaranteed to warm your soul, especially now that our SoCal weather has started dropping into the fur boots and beanie range (we recognize that we are spoiled wimps when it comes to below-perfect temperature).

The bread the restaurant uses comes from local LA-based Röckenwagner Bakery, and it is heavenly! As full as we were, we couldn’t resist tearing off “just one more” piece of potpie-filling-soaked bread. Skip to the end of this story where we polished off the massive plate. No regrets.

With so many amazing savory options, the Stalking Horse Brunch menu does also feature two sweet options: Crispy French Toast (vegan) and the Dutch Baby Pancake.

Topped with a divine blackberry compote, maple syrup, and house-whipped cream, this delish oven-baked pancake is hands-down the KG fave. We would definitely recommend ordering this no matter how stuffed you are from the other delicious dishes you’ve ordered. After all, brunch needs dessert, too!

On a community influence note, we’d like to mention that we love this place for its local impact and awareness. The Stalking Horse (and ABC properties in general) has actively establishes itself as a neighborhood spot. Residents in the surrounding areas come to watch sports, compete in costume contests, and participate in a number of other events that The Stalking Horse regularly hosts. The Stalking Horse also donates once a month to a local charity/organization, including LAFD Station No. 92 just across the street.

If you have a passion for a local cause, if you just want to rave about their delicious offerings, and/or if you just want to drop them a line, be sure to give them a shout on Instagram @thestalkinghorsepub and Facebook @TheStalkingHorse. Cheers!

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Okiboru House of Tsukemen: Taking a Dip in Chinatown

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With the countless traditional ramen options available to noodle lovers in Los Angeles, it is truly thrilling to explore a new restaurant specializing in its thicker, made-for-dipping cousin: tsukemen (literally translates to “dipping ramen”). Okiboru. If you’re new to this style of ramen, be sure to make your way over to the south-ish wall of the restaurant, where the staff has chalked out a very informative list of Do’s and Don’ts of Eating Tsukemen.

Our personal favorite on this list: “DO look at your food angrily so it knows who’s boss.” #girlboss

The most relevant for us on this list: “DO try squeezing some lime juice on the noodles.” …We might have completely missed this originally and squeezed the lime juice into the broth, but now we know for next time. Learn from our fudge-ups!

While waiting for our noods to arrive, we sipped on a few different flavors of Stubborn Soda,

a line of craft fountain drinks by Pepsi Co. which contains no artificial sweeteners nor corn syrup—HOORAY!

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Among the three we tried, the Lemon Berry Açai really sparkled, especially if you’re looking for a refreshing beverage that will offset this somewhat heavier meal. Bottled Bundaberg Soda and hot/iced green tea offerings are also available if you prefer.

For our tsukemen experience, we went with the restaurant’s namesake, The Okiboru (“the big bowl”).  And it was two big bowls!

The clay bowl is filled with rich and creamy house-made broth, bits of chashu pork, a marinated soft-boiled egg, and bamboo shoots. The shallower, wider bowl is filled with a heaping portion of housemade, hand-pulled tsukemen noodles, generous thick strips of grilled pork ribs (marinated overnight and then braised for four hours!), pickled radish, nori, and lime wedge. Remember, the lime is for the noodles! Go ahead and twirl a bundle of noodles around your chopsticks, and as their awesome graphic shirts instruct: Dip it! Dip it good!

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Also, if you love a little (or a lot of) extra heat with your noodles, they do have chili paste available!

As a plus, they come in cute little canisters that are very instaworthy, along with their noodle strainer napkin/chopstick holders.

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For those of you that would rather stick with traditional ramen and/or are vegetarian, the Veggie Ramen

was super slurp-worthy! Served as a single bowl of house-made ramen noodles (slightly thinner than the tsukemen noodles) in a creamy mushroom and veggie broth. Even though we are a far cry from being vegetarian, your SmvEATS team thoroughly enjoyed this bowl of brothy goodness. The grilled tofu is perfectly firm and absolutely divine in Okiboru’s veggie broth. As a note, while the broth itself is vegan, the house-made noodles are not vegan, but they are phenomenal.  

Why are the noodles here are so amazing? It could have something to do with the fact that co-owner and chef Sean Park has spent some serious time traveling to Japan to study the art of making tsukemen and ramen noodles, tweaking the recipes to his own style of perfection. It could also be the ingredients themselves, as the Nippon whole-wheat flour he sources is of the best quality one can find for these noodles. This combination of experience and dedication with premium ingredients, mixed and hand-crafted in-house is what really makes Okiboru unique in LA’s Japanese noodle scene.

[Menu Change Note: During our interview with Park, he had mentioned he had new recipes in the work, and since this review, Okiboru does have a new menu reflecting these changes. Be on the lookout for a follow-up review!]

Parking Pro-Tip: Parking in Chinatown LA is not always the most friendly, but fortunately, Okiboru offers one hour of free parking in their building’s parking garage, so make sure you get your parking ticket validated by their wonderfully friendly staff!

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Make sure to visit Okiboru.com and follow their tasty adventures on @Okiboru

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Wafflejack - Bites of Belgium in LA

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Inspired by the Euro-travels of founder & CEO Joshua Lee, Wafflejack made its debut appearance in 2016 in the heart of Hollywood.

Nestled in The Deck at Hollywood & Highland, this storefront overlooks the infamous and ever-crowded Hollywood Boulevard. While it’s location above the boulevard is great, it is the interior plastered in #wafflejack selfies

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that is a true testament to the joy these Belgian delights bring.

For all of us people watchers, this is a primo spot for a treat and a show, both inside and outside of the store. To be honest, we were probably fairly entertaining to watch as we gawked at the assortment of sample waffles they have lined up in the glass case leading to the register.

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Order from their menu or build a waffle of your own creation—everything is customizable!

Wafflejack serves up two types of waffles: Brussels and Liege, both made with imported pearl sugar from Belgium—can’t get much more authentic than that on this side of the pond. We would suggest getting one of each to enjoy the best of both worlds! But if you must choose, we (both your SMV and Wafflejack teams) are huge fans of the chewier, sweeter Liege waffles made with dough that’s proofed twice before baking. If you want something more semblant of what we know as breakfast waffles, go with the crispier, lighter Brussels waffles made with yeast-leavened batter and meringue to achieve maximum fluffiness.

We started with the KG fave: Nutella Liege Waffle.

We already know you can’t go wrong with Nutella, but wow does it become more heavenly when slathered atop a warm and chewy Liege waffle.

A crowd favorite that is both vibrant and delightful is the Strawberries & Cream Liege Waffle:

freshly baked waffle + freshly cut strawberries + freshly house-whipped cream. Did someone ask for fresh?

We had a lot of fun figuring out how to enjoy our Oreo Cheesecake Brussels Waffle!

It’s served to you with three mounds of Oreo cheesecake each topped with an adorable mini-Oreo lined down the center of a beautifully golden-brown waffle. Method 1:

cut a square of waffle, fork a bit of Oreo cheesecake into the square, place said square + cheesecake in your mouth, ENJOY.

Method 2:

spread the cheesecake mounds evenly across the waffle, pick up the entire waffle, bite into the cheesecake waffle, ENJOY. Either way (or maybe you have your own method—please share!), we love both the aesthetic of this waffle as well as how the light and crispy Brussels waffle compliments the rich decadence of the Oreo cheesecake.

For a true burst of color and berry flavor, get your hands on the Berry Mascarpone Brussels Waffle.

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Like everything else, their mascarpone is freshly made in-house, and the scrumptiously sweet berries are lined with such care, you’ll almost feel bad cutting/biting into it. Almost.  

While this girl generally has a major sweet tooth, I must say that my absolute fave on the menu was the Margherita Pizza Stuffed Waffle.

A pizza waffle?! Yes, a pizza waffle. And it is incredible. It’s a warm Liege waffle stuffed with hot, stringy mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (#cheesepull), aromatic basil, and savory tomato sauce with garlic butter. It should come with a warning label: may ruin normal pizza for you.

Top three things we’re looking forward to trying on our next visit: Spicy Habanero Chicken Cheese Stuffed Waffle, Churro Waffle Bites, and the seasonal flavor of Ice Cream Sandwich made with SF-based Double Rainbow ice cream!

As a note, the Hollywood location is the only one that has an actual storefront. Oh and a hashtag printer (it basically turns your phone into a photobooth—ask the staff for assistance if needed!). It’s definitely worth a visit, and when you do, we moustache you to post on Insta using #wafflejack #sundaymorningview. And remember to get your H&H parking ticket validated so it’s only $2 for 2 hours! The other locations (Glendale, Culver City, Riverside, Bakersfield, and Northridge) serve up their delicious waffles out of kiosks, so keep an eye out whenever you’re looking for a delicious treat!

A Special thanks to the amazing management and staff ❤️

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6th and La Brea Brewery & Restaurant: On The Corner of Fun and Delicious

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Photos By: Maylee Tan

Craft beer. Feel-good entrees. An open and beautiful dining space. If any of these buzz words set your hungry belly on fire, then consider cruising down to 6th and La Brea Brewery & Restaurant. Just as it’s name states, 6th and La Brea can be found at the joint of these two bustling streets in the most trendy block of Hollywood for friends and foodies to stumble upon and trickle in for a delicious craft beer and some delicious dishes.

The ambience of the restaurant had a spacious and modern feel. The exposed piping on the ceiling gave the space a rustic touch but was balanced with an overall white and clean interior. A gorgeous bar top flanked the right side of the interior for skilled bartenders to serve up unique craft cocktails and a delightful selection in-house and guest drafts. A fleet of tall bar top tables, elegant booths, and a spacious patio overlooking the bustle of the intersection provide a variety of dining experiences– it’s all up to you!

But how did the food compare to the stunning view? Read on below to see what we grubbed on at the trendiest restaurant on the block.

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The Taste Test

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To Start: Crispy Cauliflower with KFC Sauce

Appetizers are tricky: the wrong sort will send your tastebuds to the wrong side of the spectrum before you’ve even had a chance to tackle your entree. This delicate and crispy cauliflower made the perfect introduction to our meal.

It was gently salted and paired with a tangy sweet chili sauce, making our taste buds bounce happily back and forth between sweet and salty. Ah, an appetizer has never been so satisfying.

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On To The Next: Hand Rolled Dumplings

Perfectly plated like four bundles of joy in a bath of lime-y soy sauce, these dumplings were a pleasant surprise. The texture was a solid 10/10 as far as dumplings go; despite sitting in sauce, they maintained their integrity and had a classic crunch! They were stuffed with tender mushrooms and *gasp* “impossible meat”! This was good enough to deceive a non-vegan like me, and I wasn’t even mad about it.

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The Main Event: K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken)

This was it. A giant hunk of blazing red chicken on a stark white plate, served with an equally large knife to cut through the mass.

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Beautiful, tender chicken, big enough to share with a friend or two (if you’re willing, that is.) The sweet chili glaze was an echo from the cauliflower appetizer that previewed what was in store for us. We were pleasantly stuffed after a few bites!

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The Underdog: Niman Ranch Short Rib and Glass Noodles

This dish took us all by surprise with it’s fall-apart softness and delightful tangy flavor.

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A gentle fork through each piece was enough to carry each bite to our mouths, sending an amazing burst of flavor and tender texture. This dish came with a side of glass noodles that served as a yummy palette cleanser that was tons of fun to slurp!

Final Thoughts

My biggest regret was not taking all my friends to eat with me. The menu was extremely expansive, the service was incredible, and it was a guaranteed good-time! All of the dishes are so different that there’s bound to be something for everyone (including the vegan in your party.)

Whether you’re stopping by for a drink or a celebration with family or all your best buds, 6th and La Brea is the perfect destination for good drinks, good food, and good times.


Address600 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

6thlabrea.com

Phone(323) 998-8565

Instagram: @6thlabrea

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KEBBROS ~ Elevated European Street Food

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Los Angeles is the land of dreams for actors, musicians, dancers, entertainers, etc. But for two Swiss brothers, Romeo and Sergio Syfrig, it’s the dream opportunity to bring elevated European street food to a city they fell in love with. Amongst the popular taco culture here in SoCal, a “new” staple has opened up shop in Hollywood. KEBBROS

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is an all-organic USDA Certified doner kebab restaurant that serves slow food in a fast casual style.

Step right up to their food bar/open kitchen, where you can see everything being prepared,

including the roasting doner!

Your first choice when ordering is your base: pita pocket, wrap, bowl, salad, or pomme frites (aka fries). Followed by add-ins, protein, sauces, and then dry toppings. Check out their menu to see all of your delicious options, and feel free to sample the sauces/dressings before deciding on one (or two).

Once you have your noms all sorted, it’s time to order your drink. Whether you’re looking to wet your whistle with soda or beer, you can be confident that all the beverages served here are also USDA Certified Organic, crafted by Ventura-based Leashless Brewing.

We absolutely adore the Lemon Ginger Ale,

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but if you’re looking for something alcoholic, might we suggest Romeo’s favorite: Twinny Dubbel.

  TWINNY DUBBEL ON RIGHT

TWINNY DUBBEL ON RIGHT

Let’s take a look at how we at SmvEATS did with our kebab creations:

Pita Pocket + Organic Beef + KEBBROS Signature Sauce:

This house-made pita was designed for stuffing and grabbing! And the Signature Sauce is a divine creation reminiscent of Thousand Island sans pickles. Based on a Swiss cocktail sauce, it has been perfected for the Californian palate by Executive Chef Dave Northrup (City Tavern, Rush Street).

Organic Black Rice Bowl + Mary’s Organic Chicken + Creamy Truffle Parmesan:

Once you go black rice, you’ll… well you know. ^.~ While black rice is not a new grain, it is definitely the new new of healthy carb trends, and for good reason! It has similar amounts of fiber to that of brown rice and some of the highest levels of anthocyanin antioxidants found in food. The organic chicken is beautifully seasoned and our mouths salivate just thinking about that creamy truffle sauce.

Flatbread Wrap + Mary’s Organic Chicken + Radish Tzatziki:

The KG Fave! Make sure you grab a knife & fork for this giant wrap because it is a bit messy after the first few bites—consider it a literal explosion of flavor.

Curry Gravy Fries:

Holy Aphrodite, we’re in love! All of KEBBROS delicious pomme frites are fried to perfection in high-grade soybean oil. Slather on some organic beef & chicken gravy along with Signature Sauce and you have yourself a heap of heaven. Until you’ve cleared the bowl, there’s no such thing as “I’ll have just one more bite.”

Seasonal White Chocolate Organic Cheese Cake and Spiced Organic Chocolate Mousse Pie:

We love us some cute mason jar desserts, and they’re the perfect size where you can order both! First on the list is decadent cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, topped with mixed wild berries. Second is a luxuriously whipped chocolate mousse pie with chocolate cookie crust, topped with whipped cream. Can’t decide? This girl personally loves mixing the two into one bite and getting the best of both worlds!

If you’re dining in, the final option in this tasty choose-your-own-adventure is whether you’re going to enjoy your meal in the spaciously communal interior or the beautifully sunlit front patio. Either way, we’re positive you’ll be sitting happy, especially during the KEBBROS Social Hour, Monday-Friday 4p-7p.

We are stoked to come back and kick it on the patio with a refreshing glass of organic sangria and a Hummus Plate with pita and seasonal veggies to share!

Address1542 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

kebbros.com

Phone(323) 797-1115

Follow them @kebbros

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Gilbert's El Indio

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Sitting on the southish side of Pico near 26th Street in Santa Monica is a Mexican restaurant that has been satisfying Angeleno bellies since 1974. Upon arriving at the doors of Gilbert’s El Indio, we were greeted by a statue of a Native American with a noticeably large chain wrapped around its leg, securing it to the establishment.

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Ask the staff, and they’ll describe a great tale of kidnappings (yes, that’s plural!) and ransom behind this third generation El Indio statue! 

Once seated in this cozy Mexican restaurant, our table was immediately set with a basket of freshly fried tortilla chips and salsa.

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If you’re feeling extra spicy, kick it up a notch by asking for the El Diablo salsa!

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We spoke with Ricardo Rodriguez,

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who is the 8th of 9 kids born to Carmen & Gilbert Rodriguez, the founders and namesake of Gilbert’s El Indio. He shared that at home, Mama Carmen cooks much spicier foods than what is served at the restaurant, which is more tailored to a mid-level heat range for their patrons. The flavors here are distinctively Southern Californian with heavy inspiration from its family roots in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

But first, drinks! Gilbert himself started in the industry as a bartender, so you know these are good. The bar here specializes in beers and margaritas. Pro-tip: come here early and kick off your week at 2p for Margarita Mondays! The specials are loco (a pitcher of marg for $12.50!! and $5.50 food specials), so expect a packed house. 

 (Left) House Blend Mango (Upper Right) Paloma (Bottom Right) Gilbert’s Special

(Left) House Blend Mango (Upper Right) Paloma (Bottom Right) Gilbert’s Special

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House Blend Mango

  • Marg numero uno: the Gilbert’s Special, made with Casa Noble, agave nectar, and lime juice. We should’ve ordered the pitcher. 

  • Marg numero dos: House Blended Mango—taste the tango in your mouth! 

  • Marg numero tres: …was actually a Paloma, and it was this tequila-lover’s personal favorite.  

And just for SmvEATS readers, we have collaborated with Gilbert’s to create a super secret off-the-menu special! We’ll save that for the end. ^.~

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For noms, we love the Asada Mini Super Special Burrito, filled with hearty steak, beans, avocado, and lettuce, slathered in melted cheese and their mild yet savory verde sauce. The components are simple and perfectly complimentary for that melt-in-your mouth kind of food heaven. Feeling a little extra? Nix the “mini” part of the order. Feeling extra extra? Go all out and order the Extra Super Mule, and please send us pics of you taking it down!

If you want a plate of deliciousness to put together and wrap up yourself, order the Plato De Carnitas. Each piece of prepared pork has this delightfully crispy edge to it. While nice on its own, the staff showed us that dunking it in their red salsa before wrapping it in a piece of fresh tortilla brings this carnitas plate to a whole new level of wow!

Popular among regulars is the #6 Taco & Enchilada. Our taco was stuffed with beef and our enchilada with chicken. The taco has a lovely crisp that gives the entire bite an exciting combo of textures; the enchilada is encompassed by a beautiful crust of cheese that melds the whole thing into its surrounding accompaniments of well-seasoned beans and rice. If you’re thinking this is the prefect combination of all necessary food groups and you’d like to enjoy this on the daily, Ricardo suggests omitting the cheese and asking for boiled beans—it’s what he does to keep up his figure! 

What about dessert? Good news and bad news. Bad news: they don’t serve dessert here. Gilbert’s menu of savory Mexican foods is phenomenal, and they want to keep focusing on doing what they do best—we can appreciate that. Good news: we here at SmvEATS believe margaritas are a perfectly acceptable form of dessert! Which brings us to our super secret SmvEATS menu item at Gilbert’s El Indio: the Smokey Robinson Went to Mexico margarita.

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The best way we can describe this is as a divine amalgam of smoky mezcal and fresh strawberry fields in a glass. Trust us, you won’t even miss dessert.

On a small business note, we’d like to mention that we love this place for its community impact and awareness. Since 1974, Gilbert’s has employed 23 local families, growing our local economy and creating work opportunities in Santa Monica. They have also taken an active step towards sustainability by participating in the Green Business Program this year. This family-owned business is making a big difference, and that’s something we definitely support!

Please keep in mind that Gilbert’s El Indio is a cash-only establishment. And mark your calendars for May 20th, 2019, as they’ll be celebrating their 45th anniversary with a return to their original menu (if you’re curious, it’s framed on the wall around the front door)!!

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It will be a fiesta you don’t want to miss. By the way, Mama Carmen still comes in every single day 7a-11a, so make sure you stop in to say hello! And for all of you brunch-lovers, Gilbert’s El Indio opens at 8a every day, and we hear the Huevos Indios is a must. Provecho!

Visit Gilbertselindio.com // @gilberts_el_indio

2526 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Santa Monica

(310) 450-8057

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Eight Korean BBQ: King of Koreatown KBBQ

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Written by: Maylee Tan // @pixel.eats

Photos by: Maylee Tan

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Coast down the streets of Koreatown, Los Angeles and you’ll bump into hundreds of kbbq joints, all offering their own spin on a traditional and ever-popular form of Korean cuisine. The selection is vast: hole-in-the-wall joints offering real competitive pricing and a homey ambiance lie only a few blocks away from grand, club-like KBBQ escapes that have you pummeling through soju like it was your job!

Beyond the open grills and smoke lies an unsuspecting champion, nestled in a corner of a modest shopping lot in Koreatown. With 4.5 stars and 1,420 reviews on Yelp, Eight Korean BBQ is easily the most adventurous and incredible Korean BBQ dining experience that LA has to offer.

Read on to find out how Eight Korean BBQ took the crown!

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The Taste Test

Perfect Pork Belly in Eight Flavors

You read right – pork belly marinated in eight rich and unique flavors: wine, original, black sesame, garlic, herb, curry, miso, and red pepper. Lined up from light flavor depth to deep, our host Daniel cooked each of the pork belly flavors in a steaming slate before us, trimming the bits into bite-sized pieces. Each slab was grilled to perfection while our host routinely cleaned off the grill to ensure that the exotic marination in each of the flavors peaked through just right. We gobbled our way through the sampler, each flavor being an incredible and new experience. Each piece of meat was teeming with tender juiciness; I almost had to slurp! I quickly found that my die-hard favorites were the garlic and miso flavors.

In between bites, we devoured heaps of freshly grilled kimchi and kimchi bean sprouts that were charred to perfection.

The best part was that this was just the beginning.

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Spicy Seafood Soup

Oh, boy. They did not skimp out on this soup, not in the slightest. I was convinced that every delectable sea creature worth having a seat at your table was in this soup alone. This spicy seafood medley bubbled with crab, squid, mussels, clams, and felt like an exciting swim under the sea!

The warmth from the soup gently caressed our full and happy bellies, priming us for what was next in our grand KBBQ dining experience.

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Creamy Cheese Kimchi Fried Rice

This dish couldn’t have sounded more perfect – I let out an audible squeal when I found out that we were going to be enjoying this later on in our meal.

Our host prepared the delicious concoction right before our eyes. The fresh, steaming kimchi rice was topped with a generous heap of mozzarella cheese (eep!) and expertly blended into the rice in circular motions, like a creamy tide rising and falling. Just as we were all hypnotized, then came the cheese pull. Our host pulled up a heap of the creamy rice to reveal a drool-worthy web of stringy cheese. We snapped out of it just in time to take a photo to preserve it in our hearts and minds before we devoured every single, cheese-coated grain.

I mean, damn. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

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Daniel’s Favorite – Mugifuji Fresh Pork Belly

Just as we were nursing our food bellies with a smile, our incredibly experienced host Daniel couldn’t let us leave without preparing for us his personal favorite dish: the Mugifuji Pork Belly.

These slabs of pork belly were incredibly thick and rich, and I admired its beautiful marbling as it sizzled before us. When I took a bite, I knew that this was the real deal. This is how fresh, high quality pork should taste and I knew I would never be able to look back.

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Final Thoughts and The Future

Easily the most grand and unique Korean BBQ dining experience in all of Koreatown, we have high hopes for this KBBQ legend. Their 8 pork belly flavors and exquisite dine-in feel are fit for any kbbq snob and will have you second-guess your go-to joint.

We spoke with our host Daniel and he shared with us what he loved most about Eight Korean BBQ. His favorite thing (apart from the Mugifuji Pork Belly) was being able to get a feel for a wide variety of nationalities, as the exotic kbbq restaurant draws customers from all ethnic backgrounds. He takes pride in being able to offer everyone a unique and equally exotic dining experience that sets the bar high for KBBQ.

After such a luxurious experience, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to average KBBQ again! I’ll be back for more, Eight Korean BBQ!
 

Visit eightkoreanbbq.com // @eightkoreanbbq

863 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Koreatown

(213) 365-1750


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Tokyo Hamburg: A Brand New Japanese-Korean Dining Experience

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Written by: Maylee Tan // @pixel.eats

Photos by: Maylee Tan

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As the sun sets over the bustling streets of Koreatown in Los Angeles, the night lights come on for the anticipated evening rush. Tokyo Hamburg, a rising sun in a curated sea of fine Asian cuisine, welcomes each of its customers into a dining experience that is truly unique. With it’s cool and comfortable ambience, Tokyo Hamburg has become a lively destination for best buds and hungry hearts, all in search for one thing: an evening of rib eye katsu so fresh that you can enjoy it rare, and a deeply-marinated, tender hamburger patty, inspired by famous high-fashion Japanese cuisine.

Tokyo Hamburg brings a fusion of popular and high quality Japanese and Korean cuisine and delivers it straight to LA’s door— and your eager tastebuds!

The Taste Test

The Famous Tokyo Hamburg

Top quality Angus beef makes up the fabric of the Tokyo Hamburg, and trust me when I say it’s quality you can both feel and taste. The beautifully shaped meat patty is accompanied by a sizzling hot stone for you to gently cook the delicate trimmings.

The flavor in each bite told a tale of freshness and long, complex marination. A spike of perfect saltiness, countered by a base of pepper and a puzzling delivery of umami to finish the taste as you eagerly cook your next bite.

It’s really no wonder why they’ve named the restaurant after this one dish!

 

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Tender Rib Eye Steak Katsu

When a restaurant boldly claims that you can eat something really rare, they’re usually pretty damn sure that they’re serving you the freshest, high quality protein there is. That complete faith is justified in their Rib Eye Steak Katsu and I was made a believer in one night.

Get this: the meat was so tender that just by gently picking up the katsu, I felt like I could bruise it! About 6 seconds on each side was all that was necessary to cook the tender slices, leaving the center a little pink (and perfect!) Similar to the Tokyo Hamburg, you had the freedom to cook your katsu to your liking– and even enjoy it rare if you wanted to.

With freshness like you wouldn’t believe, this dish was dream-worthy and easily my absolute favorite!

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The Terrific Tuna Tokyo Tower

Apart from being absolutely gorgeous, I can only describe this multi-dimensional flavor sculpture in one way: it’s sushi on crack. Roasted seaweed, masago, spicy tuna, crab meat, avocado, rice, and an artistic mixture of drizzled sauces make up this piece of art. Think about all the things you love most about a sushi roll. Now amplify that by about 10,000. Our kind host came by to mix the whole concoction together and it all fused into a creamy, delightful salad.

He even shaped it into a heart! +10 cute points.

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The Perfect Parfait

It wouldn’t be a review from me if I left without dessert– and this Tokyo Special Parfait did not disappoint!

This parfait alone gives specialty dessert shops a run for their money. Layers of fruit, ice cream, cocoa pebbles AND fruity pebbles, and some more ice cream take this dessert above and beyond. Poking through the peak are a vanilla pocky, chocolate almond pocky, and a vanilla cream wafer. Perfect for sharing, unless you’re sharing with me. I’ll take all three, thank you very much.

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Final Thoughts and The Future

Tokyo Hamburg opened its doors in November of 2016 and is already making huge waves in the LA foodie scene! Their aim is to create a happy experience that brings much more to the table than just food. They want you to feel at home in the midst of an exotic experience, as though you’re overseas, dining in Japan or Korea! They hope to expand to Irvine and Torrance, so look out, SoCal!

I’ve never been to a restaurant that was so well-rounded and I’m stunned at the thought of it. The best part is that all these amazing dishes I got to try make up just a tiny fraction of their entire menu. You bet that I’ll be coming back to try out their cheese katsu and strawberry mochi!

Visit Tokyohamburgla.com // @tokyohamburg

600 S New Hampshire Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005

(213) 263-2668


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Rockbird: Fingerlickin’ Fresh

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Written by: Maylee Tan // @pixel.eats

Photos by: Maylee Tan

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Fried chicken is having a huge moment in the foodie spotlight! Many are flocking to the biggest joints in fried chicken fame for the satisfying crunch in a battered and deep-fried drumstick. But how many fried chicken places do you know about that can do it all? We’re talking chicken fried to perfection, incredible side dishes, and unique and refreshing drinks you’ll need to refill in seconds. Ah!

Rockbird is no one-trick chick; from exotic chicken sandwiches and juicy roasted hens to fresh and addicting sides, this neighborhood restaurant is a one-stop shop for all your cravings.
 

The Taste Test

Vacation-Inspired Chicken Sandwiches

Inspired by well-travelled flavors, these two sandwiches redefine the standard for chicken sandwiches with an exotic kick!

The Wok Bird: sriracha mayo, a sweet chili glaze, and fresh cali-slaw. Incredible crispy texture with a fiery but welcome kick to the tastebuds. A sriracha-lover’s dream come true!

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The Baja Bird: creamy cilantro aioli, bright citrus slaw, a glaze of chipotle sauce, and fresh tomatoes. My taste buds fled the coop and took a mini vacay. This tasted like sweet and citrusy met for the first time in history and I stood as a witness.

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Both sandwiches were flanked with two incredible plush and lightly glazed brioche buns. Y-U-M. Who needs a tropical getaway when you can tour the world in a chicken sandwich? Now that’s getting your money’s worth.

Hot-Off-The-Grill Roasted Cornish Hens

You know you’re in for a treat when you pull chicken apart with your hands and the meat falls off the bone! Incredibly tender and fresh, these cornish hens are portioned for sharing but you’ll want to keep it all to yourself. Rockbird provides an exciting selection of sauces for every personality: chipotle honey sauce, classic bbq, and a creamy garlic aioli. I loved the garlic aioli so much that I asked to take some home to slather on everything! It’s THAT good.

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Scrumptious Sides to Your Liking

The best part about the sides at Rockbird is that there’s something for everyone: roasted brussel sprouts for the veggie-lovers, kale tabbouleh for the fresh-seekers, and a 3-cheese mac’n’cheese for cheat days (or in my case, that’s everyday!)

The brussel sprouts come roasted and charred to perfection, topped with a tart glaze of balsamic. If you thought you hated brussel sprouts, these will make you think again. Hard. Did you say you hated kale, too? This fresh kale tabbouleh converted me on the spot; I realized it when I was reaching for a forkful after every bite of chicken. And do I need to talk about how incredibly creamy and cheesy the 3-cheese mac’n’cheese was? There are no words. The best things in life are often difficult to describe– I’ll let the cheese do all the talking.

I promise that if the chicken dishes don’t have you running back, you’ll be thinking about these sides for the next two weeks.

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Real Refreshing Drinks

Soda fountains are basic, so Rockbird kicks it up another notch with their craft refreshers. The Honeydew Mint carried the fresh flavors of summer, while the Jamaica refresher kept things cool and classic.

These were such a delight. Hey Rockbird, is there a way I can have these drinks on tap at my house? Thanks.

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Final Thoughts and The Future

Rockbird is the beautiful product of a collaborative effort between two brothers, Daniel and Chris Skaf.

 Chris (Left) Daniel (Right)

Chris (Left) Daniel (Right)

They started out by barbecuing cornish hens in their backyard for friends, which was their culinary specialty since 2005. Their humble beginnings took them from a small storefront in their home to their own bustling bizz in Glendale. Along with their head chef and creative culinary artist Javier, the team continues to add to their ever-growing menu to excite customers with each visit.

 Daniel (Left) Javier (Middle) Chris (Right)

Daniel (Left) Javier (Middle) Chris (Right)

 Culinary Chef Javier

Culinary Chef Javier

The restaurant celebrated their one-year anniversary this month and hopes to continue expanding. The trio is beaming with dreams of opening up new stores in other neighborhoods and some excited discussion about weekend brunch. What can’t Rockbird do?

Step aside, Applebee’s; the real neighborhood restaurant is in town.

 Daniel (left) Maylee (Middle) Javier (Middle) Chris (Right)

Daniel (left) Maylee (Middle) Javier (Middle) Chris (Right)

Visit Rockbirdla.com // @RockBirdLA

1147 E Colorado St
Glendale, CA 91205

(818) 484-7654

WATCH VIDEO: See what happens when Maylee does the TASTE TEST


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Tlayuda: The Freshest, Feel-Good Mexican Food You'll Ever Have

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Written by: Maylee Tan // @pixel.eats

Photos by: Maylee Tan

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Nestled in the bustling heart of Hollywood is a gleaming Oaxacan gem that dares to defy misconceptions about Mexican food while honoring tried and true traditional flavors. Tlayuda challenges the idea that Mexican food is greasy and unhealthy, and magically manages to deliver authentic, drool-worthy bites that attract visitors from far and wide.

Sisters Laura and Anna run the vivid and artistically decorated shop with bright smiles, serving tasty dishes with a cheery charm that is reminiscent of your childhood friends' mom's homestyle cooking.

The Taste Test

 Classic Supreme Tlayuda

Classic Supreme Tlayuda

The Famous Classic Supreme Tlayuda

Apart from being the restaurant's namesake, a tlayuda is a crisp, toasted tortilla adorned with a sure smear of bean puree, a generous sprinkle of Oaxacan cheese, and crowned with three types of meat: tassajo beef, cesina pork, and chorizo.

This sent my tastebuds on a texture trip that I never wanted to return from! The creamy bean puree and the crunchy tortilla sang a duet that voiced a smokey, crispy tune. The fresh Oaxacan cheese layered thick above went straight to my head but was grounded by bits of fine, shredded lettuce. Depending on which piece of meat hit your tongue first, each bite was a new, flavorful experience. How's that for dimensional?

Despite it's many components, the dish was incredibly balanced and would have me running back. Because of the large portions, I'll bring a friend or two with me the next time I visit– if I can get myself to share, that is ;)

 Enchiladas de Mole

Enchiladas de Mole

Sweet and Savory Enchiladas de Mole

If you want a flavor experience that keeps you on your toes, this dish is "The One". The chicken tucked away in the enchiladas was incredibly fresh and tender and was heavily drenched in a glossy glaze of mole negro. Settled softly in the mole was queso fresco, and the enchiladas were brilliantly paired with a generous heap of rice. The rice might seem plain, but looks can be deceiving– it was light and almost buttery, which provided a striking contrast to the rich texture of the mole. It was a true yin-and-yang experience.

 Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos

Not Your Average Chicken Tacos

I thought I knew what a good taco was and didn't expect to be wow'd by something I could find anywhere in Los Angeles. Tlayuda proved me wrong and I couldn't be happier about it. The sheer quality of the chicken was something else– it was slightly fattier than the chicken you'd find in a dry taco de pollo which helped the tacos deliver more flavor. But what made these tacos much more unique than your average taco was that bean puree. Yup. Like the bean puree in their supersized tlayuda. It brought another dimension of texture and another layer of flavor that no one thought was needed in a taco.

This one's for the skeptics. Let these tacos prove you wrong.

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Tlayuda LA Drinks

The Colorful and Delicious Drinks

To wash all the goodness down was an equally amazing selection of drinks. All brightly colored and unique, it was tough to pick a favorite! Here's a rundown of the flight:

  • Brewchata: I consider myself a coffee connoisseur, so when I learned that they chose (local) Bicycle Coffee for their roasters, I was ecstatic. Paired with their homemade horchata, this made my caffeinated heart sing!

  • Horchata: Homemade and smooth. The bits of cinnamon floating at the top did not allude to a chalky texture– this was light, refreshing, and perfectly balanced. It's everything you'd want in a glass of horchata.

  • Tamarindo: my Filipino heritage naturally draws me to tamarind, and this lived up to my expectations with it's subtle sour flavor.

  • Jamaica: this bright purple drink tasted as beautiful as it looked with light floral notes and a soft sweetness.

No matter which drink you choose, you won't be disappointed!

 Cheesecake

Cheesecake

A Slice of (Cheesecake) Heaven

And to think, we almost left without dessert! Mascarpone cheese. I needn't say more, but I will: a fine, delicate almond crust. This cheesecake does all the work; each bite melts when it hits your tongue and not once is it ever too sweet. I'm sure you're wondering, "but what about that ridiculously sexy dulce de leche glaze?" It's perfect. All proper dining etiquette out the window, I wiped the plate clean.

Be prepared to think twice about your current favorite cheesecake.

Final Thoughts and The Future

I would be so bold as to call Tlayuda a revolution in American-based Mexican food. After eating everything I felt incredible, as though I've been on a healthy, green, no-carb diet all year. Food that makes you feel as good as it tastes is a rare find and it's one that I'll keep coming back to.

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Laura and Anna have been running Tlayuda for the last three years and have a beautiful and bright future ahead of them. Customers have already begged for more locations and travel from all over just for a taste of authentic, Oaxacan cuisine. These two women, along with their all-female staff, break boundaries with a smile, proving that Mexican food can be "clean, simple, and tasty."

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Visit Tlayudala.com // @tlayudala

5450 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029

 (213) 261-4667

WATCH VIDEO: See what happens when Maylee does the TASTE TEST


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