If most American cities are about the consumption of culture, Los Angeles and New York are about the production of culture – not only national culture but global culture.

– Barbara Kruger, American Artist

Barbara is spot on, the City of Angels sets the stage for fashion, food, and beverage trends across the world. This unique presence dominates the scene and creates excitement when you experience this firsthand. Surprising to me, and those who know me well, I found out I loved this city. I was delighted to share unique experiences and Los Angeles does a fantastic job creating moments of delight, cheer and desire.

Watching top chefs and mixologists share their passion with the world is something beautiful; I do not take for granted. Looking at a menu versus physically being there to see how it is prepared, how ingredients are mixed, to smell the aroma, and to taste is something that cannot be replicated virtually. With that being said, I wanted to share with you our unique foods, product and restaurant recommendations, so you can replicate a similar experience to ours.

Gracias Madre

This bright and airy, vegan, Mexican-inspired restaurant was the perfect spot for an afternoon cocktail. The beverage menu featured creative cocktails, tequila and mezcal flights, and house-made kombuchas.

We went with the Sorry Ms. Jamson: apricot jam, habanero bitters, lemon, mezcal in a float of tempranillo, and the Melon Collins & the Infinite Cactus: mezcal, watermelon, aloe, blackberry grenadine, manzanilla sherry, lime, and soda. Both cocktails were not only delicious, but also beautifully presented. The aloe and smoke of the mezcal perfectly offset the sweetness of the grenadine and sherry in the Melon Collins.

The menu intelligently combined sweet and savory flavors while staying true to the Mexican theme with elements like mezcal, tequila reposado, agave, xocolatl mole bitters and habanero bitters.

Employees Only

Surprised to see EO on the West Coast, we rearranged our trip to ensure we were able to stop in to try their iconic cocktails. Our mixologist walked us through each cocktail, each one more unique and different than the next. Through a combination of creativity, expertise, and adventure, EO explores the use of unique ingredients and mixed them to perfection creating flawless yet daring cocktails.

The Yellow Jacket was the most approachable mezcal cocktail I’ve ever come across created with mezcal, pungent elderflower liqueur, sherry, and what inspired its name, yellow chartreuse. With strong citrus up front and a hint of smoke, this cocktail finished beautifully balanced.

The Infinity Cocktail was a full-bodied cocktail , both strong and delicious. The aquafaba delivered a pleasant mouthfeel, and the smoked black tea adds great complexity without overpowering the cocktail.

The Colonial is a simple drink with complex flavors. This sessionable beverage is made with three different types of spirits which happily mingle together: aperol, gin, and rose champagne. These cocktails were a delicate balance of unusual and familiar. They were unapologetically delicious.

Lucques

From the artisan delicate bread to the playful cocktails, the Lucques group didn’t disappoint. The unique inclusions of specific ingredients elevated a traditional dish and made it delightful and surprising. The Jungle Birds addition of grapefruit transformed the cocktail with beautiful citrus notes.

Being a James Beard Award winner offering a grilled cheese, we couldn’t ignore this menu item. The Mexican Grilled Cheese was thoughtfully created from the crunch of the bread to the sweet caramelized onions and Spanish chorizo (neither too salty or spicy) made us recognize how they won this prestigious award.

With little room left, we questioned splurging on a dessert, however, our experience would have not been the same without the Creme Brulee Cheesecake. Hints of sugar and crunch shined through this dessert with candied kumquats and unique citrus delivering a delicious yet refreshing take on cheesecake.

Kismet

Kismet, wow we truly were blown away by this low key and humble restaurant. We stopped in for a snack, but after we tried the tahini we knew we had to explore more.

Our server highly recommended their flaky bread, so we ordered the Savory Flaky Bread.  The flaky bread, aka the Malawach, which is popular in Israel was served with schug, soft boiled egg, lebneh, and salsa. All of the unique foods are inspired by Israeli cuisine, but is not necessarily served in a traditional manner. All I have to say about this dish is… I literally daydream about that flaky bread, it was phenomenal. Crunchy, chewy, soft and flaky, the texture of this bread was something I have never before experienced, and trust me, I have had my fair share of bread. The combination of these ingredients blended seamlessly. So seamlessly, that we were fighting over the last few bites.

This restaurant was a MUST and I highly recommend going to try the unique ways they use common ingredients and flavors to create bold and memorable dishes.

Republique

Flying buttress stone archways, glass ceilings and medieval decor adorning the wall made sitting down at Republique feel a bit like having dinner in a castle. While most popularly known for brunch, we visited for dinner and drinks in the evening.

Prior to digging into the menu, we ordered the Celery and Mandarinquat cocktails. The celery salt lining the rim in combination with the serrano chile pepper delivered vegetative notes which nicely offset the sweetness of the orange, plum and mirto de sardegna in the mandarin.

The menu consisted of a variety of several small plates to share along with pastas, salads, and main entrees. The creative presentation of one dish, in particular, stood out. What appeared to be an eclair, was actually delicate périgord black truffle shavings, on top of duck liver mousse stuffed inside of a sweet, crunchy pastry. The clever parings and presentation styles made Republique stand apart from your typical French restaurants.

Bavel

With plants dangling from the ceiling intermixed with sparkling lights, you immediately felt the energy and excitement of this restaurant. We snagged a spot at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. The Celeste, while it had several ingredients, came together nicely with vodka, rose, citrus, vanilla, coconut, eggwhite, and clove dust. Slightly reminiscent of a tiki cocktail, this was a touch on the sweet side.

Our favorite was the Nebuchandnezzar. This savory skewed cocktail had lamb fat bourbon that paired nicely with a smoked ice cube, and blue plum brandy.

The menu showcased many authentic dishes expected at a Mediterranean restaurant. We began with Prawns grilled to absolute perfection. The harissa marinade, cured zucchini tzatziki, herbs, and lime transported this dish from tasty to spectacular. An array of flatbreads speckled the menu and we selected the Butternut Squash Flatbread. While simple, it had the perfect balance of sweet and savory leaving us satisfied. We completed the evening with slow roasted Lamb Neck Sharwma.

From the moment we ordered a craft cocktail at the bar to the very end of the meal, it was truly an experience.


We made this happen all in day… and we can honestly say:

Authored by: Elaine Schomaker & Savannah Turner

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