New SoCal Faves

Last month, I was able to spend a few days in my favorite place on earth – Southern California. It’s always so lovely seeing all of my friends, discovering new places to eat and shop as well as spending time surfing at the beach. Didn’t do too much shopping on this past trip, so the following post will be more of a #foodporn post. Like I did with my last travel post (see here), here are some of my new favorite things about SoCal.

1 – Ace Hotel – When I went last month, the hotel had opened a few weeks prior. The Ace Hotel is a small chain of hotels, they can be found in New York City, Palm Springs, Portland and most recently Los Angeles. It is located in the historic United Artists building in downtown LA. I had the pleasure of going to their new bistro LA Chapter. Not only were the food and drinks incredibly tasty, the atmosphere was very chic yet also laid back and also we had the funniest waiter. The menu was original and fairly priced. After dinner, I took a tour of the hotel. I loved all the books and music in the lobby, everything about the building was absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend checking out the hotel, if not for a stay then for a brunch, lunch or dinner. You can make reservations easily via Open Table.

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2 – Urth Caffé – Alright, this place isn’t a new place but it’s become a staple when I’m in Los Angeles. I purposely plan my day around the different Urth locations in and around Los Angeles. Honestly, the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. It opens super early in the morning and stays open until late at night. Some of my Urth favs: Almond Milk Green Tea Latte, the Urth Salad, any of their croissants, the Coconut Pound Cake and their homemade granola. My mouth waters, as I write this post. I think I’ve developed an addiction to Urth Caffé!!

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3 – Veggie Grill – Is a chain of vegetarianvegan and gluten free restaurants that serve food cafeteria style. I knew one of their latest locations had just opened up in Carlsbad, so I took the opportunity to pay them a visit. They have a very extensive menu, great homemade drinks and pride themselves in only serving healthy food that is good for the mind and body. I ordered the Crispy Chickin’ Plate as well as a side order of their Mac N’ Cheese. Both plates were very filling and all tasted pretty good. You can get a good meal for under $15. My favorite was their cauli mashed potatoes!

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4 – Los Feliz – Is a new area I got to explore on this past trip located just west of Hollywood. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with lot’s of pretty homes as well as a little “downtown” area located on Vermont Street with plenty of super cute shops, bookstores and yummy restaurants. I checked out the French bistro Le Figaro for brunch. They offered all the best typical French specialties and also had a counter section, where you could buy baked goods and desserts to go. I wish I could have spent more time in the area, it’s definitely on my list of places to go back to on my next visit.

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5 – Laurel Hardware – Is a trendy relatively new restaurant and bar located on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. I met up with friends there for dinner one night. There are two rooms and an incredibly big patio at the back. The first room is quieter and has a more “dinning room” vibe where as the back room has a lot more of a “bar” feel to it. Lot’s of local models, musicians and young entrepreneurs have been seen flocking to this place. The night I went, the place was definitely filled with lot’s of young and beautiful people. Small but solid food and drink menu. The menu contained lot’s of sharing plates including many vegetarian options. I loved their open kitchen concept as well as the fresh flowers and candles that were on each table.

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All in all, another incredibly memorable trip with tons of new discoveries!

Till next time SoCal!

Cibo Wine Bar

Last Friday, thanks to a twitter recommendation from Chic Darling. Offner and I tried out the new Cibo Wine Bar that opened up just over two months ago on the corner at King and Brant Street in Toronto. We were looking for some good food to enjoy after a long week at work.

Reservations were super easy through Open Table online. Even if we reserved the afternoon of, there were still some spots available.

Right when we walked in, I noticed that the place had completely transformed from the trashy club that it used to be. The big wall of wine bottles, the dim lighting and the wooden walls gave it a very homey and nice atmosphere. I liked that you could see the kitchen from the dining room, the wood oven and also where all the in-house pasta are made.

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As expected, the wine bar had a pretty big selection of wines. We let our waiter recommend us a wine, something we rarely do but figured it’d be the place to do it. To our surprise, the wine he recommended from Napa Valley was delicious! Though a little pricey for the bottle in our opinion ($65), it was worth it in the end.

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The menu was pretty extensive. They had a variety of Italian food – a full pizza list, pasta that was made in-house, others that that weren’t, a list of salads, soups, fish and also some cheese and charcuterie boards.

We opted for an appetizer each: I took the cheese platter and Offner, the fried calamari. Though his calamari was good it was a little undercooked and too chewy for his liking. I was really excited to try their cheese board as it was recommended to me. The presentation was nice and the portions were good for the price ($17). That being said, the cheese itself wasn’t very original – they served Brie and a form of Mozzarella, basically cheeses that are not only easy to find, but unoriginal. The rest of the cheese was a little better/tastier but being a big cheese connaisseur, sadly I was disappointed with their overall selection.

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For our main course, Offner ordered some shrimp pasta made in-house, which he really enjoyed and myself, the endives salad, which was tasty and reasonably priced. Though the dessert menu looked very appetizing (hello Nutella pizza!!), we were too stuffed to order any.

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The one thing that really stood out and gave the restaurant an edge was what I noticed on my waiter’s feet…

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Yup! Some good ol’ chucks! I think having all the waiters wear chucks gave them a cool laid-back vibe.

Overall, a good experience at Cibo Wine Bar. I think they could improve their cheese selection (Terroni in my opinion still offers a better selection of cheese for the same type of Italian cheese board) and perfect some of their dishes a little more but all in all, we had a pleasant time. The restaurant now also serves brunch on the weekends, something I’d be curious of trying out some time!