Make Out (Culver City, CA)

In the shadow of the Culver Hotel, the wellspring of Matthew Kenney’s Make Out quietly places vegan—mostly raw—foods in a glass front case for viewing.  The shelves offer a colorful selection of huge rolls of green, tiny rolls of carrots, flatbreads, and bowls of kelp noodles. Further back, stainless steel holds two daily soups. Samples of both were offered to us and the velvety Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup—drizzled with cashew creme and crunchy pepitas—leap right to the top of our order.

In heyday of NYC’s Pure Food and Wine, Kenney dazzled me with his dehydrated jicama pine nut sushi rice rolls. So I couldn’t pass up his new rendition, the Spicy Carrot Rolls,  with jalapeno cream cheese and shredded carrots. Stuffed with red bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, and young pea shoots these cool and crunchy bites almost lived up to expectation.

Wrapsespecially collard green ones—are the crutch dish of vegan cafes. So I was least excited by the Cobb Collard Green Wrap. But my trepidation was unfounded, this wrap is exceptional. A massive collard husk filled with crisp romaine, sweet and smoky coconut bacon, meaty portobello, creamy avocado, and ranch. I would definitely order this sucker again.

Make Out: Everyday Plant Food
9426 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
makeouteveryday.com

Instagram: @makeouteveryday

Lunch (Culver City, CA)

With the gross-out-gobble-up-the-greasy-world undercurrent to food culture, I’m amazed when people are weirded out by my food choices. I don’t mean weird food, but apparently weird combinations. So while people think 100×100 burgers, miles of pastrami and tuna melts are perfectly normal, nothing makes a cashier pause, do a double take and say “that’s the weirdest sandwich I’ve ever heard of” like ordering a design-your-own Veggie Burger slathered in peanut butter.

Do you think it’s weird? I don’t.

People seem stuck on the word “burger.” They assume a veggie burger must be dressed like a its beef namesake. But veggie “patties” are nothing like a beef burger; nor does the brown rice and oat based Gardenburger, served at Lunch, want to be. So why treat it as such?

I approach my Veggie Burger like a salad and  the Americanized Thai Salad is one of my favorites. Crisp vegetables smothered in sweet peanut sauce. That is what’s on my mind when I order a Veggie Burger at Lunch. Topped with some combo of avocado, sprouts, carrots and/or cucumbers and Swiss cheese (although the cheese is rather superfluous), dressed in a slathering of peanut butter and fig jam ($9.95). I know fig jam is just as odd (and also cause side eye from the kitchen) but I sweat it’s a sweetly fresh and crunchy meal.

Each sandwich comes with a side, all of which are ‘meh’ except for the Apple Vinegar Slaw. Crisp and tart, this lightly dressed side is also delicious inside your sandwich!

If you hate sandwiches, are scared of carbs, or like predicable things… they make a perfectly decent Beet It! Goat Cheese and Beet Salad ($9.50).

Lunch
3829 Main St
Culver City, CA 90232
eatatlunch.com

Bella Vista Brazilian Gourmet Pizza (Los Angeles, CA)

Now, I know people hate chicken pizza... (outside of California)

So, what is Brazilian pizza? If Bella Vista Brazilian Pizza is a good representation, then it is a thin crispy crust with delicate, but a piecemeal collection of toppings. Bella Vista is an homage to the Bexiga neighborhood —AKA the “Little Italy” of São Paulo, Brazil— one of the biggest hubs of Italian culture outside of Italy. I invited the Serious Eats LA MeetUp group to this little spot. Though it doesn’t sound like a particularly excellent example of pizza, the abundance positive reviews intrigue.

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A-Frame (Los Angeles, CA)

Swanky IHOP!

As a native Culver City girl, I’m absolutely floored by the bunny rabbit style growth of the restaurant scene in my little town. I may live in East LA now, but when I heard that one of the hottest new restaurants had popped up in my old hood, I had to go asap!

Pop pop chomp chomp

First out, the Furikake Kettle Corn ($5) Blazin’ Jay’s, Hawaiian Style. The kettle corn is richly buttered with the salty sweet goodness we all know and love, but then rocketed into the gourmet stratosphere with the addition of puffed corn, sesame seeds, nori flakes, and a blast of spiciness. The punchy mix is sourced from local popcorn vendor Blazin’J’s – watch out J, the word is out, and your booth will surely be blazin’ with foodies in the future.

These are not "pickles"

Along with the kettle corn, we ordered the Moooooo Kimchee ($3)—a modest plate of cubed white radishes swimming in lactic brine. Other than the salty brine, these bite-size dices of crunchy daikon bear no resemblance to kimchee. We selected this over the Heirloom Pickles because my friend doesn’t like “pickles.” She was later surprised to discover the pickle plate wasn’t all cucumbers. Instead it was an earthy mix of carrots, parsnips, red radishes, and something that looked like an apple… maybe an Asian pear?

[Memo to the world: Pickles are not just cucumbers! Also, not all pickles are made with vinegar! The fact that this information is not inherently known stuns me every time]. Continue reading