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**Readers!  I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site alive while simultaneously working on something Los Angeles-centric, as well.**

Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City dining scene through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

For those of you who enjoy highly thorough and traditional restaurant reviews, you may find them located here

But that's not all!  Additionally, I...

  • ~ For tourists, I can help you create itineraries and answer any questions you may have/offer advice for your upcoming visit to NYC.
  • ~ I can consult and/or advise on all of your small and large events.
  • ~ I will assist you with restaurant recommendations.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!

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Need more streamlined advice?  Shoot me an email with your specific requests:  Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.

Friday
Jul112014

SAN DIEGO / NORTH COUNTY: Where to Eat

“Where to eat” is an ongoing list series that will be updated frequently

Pricing key:

$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $20

$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $40

$$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $60

Cuisine: American

  • Beach Grass Cafe ($) One of my favorite breakfast spots in North County.  Think 'pineapple upside-down' pancakes, among every kind of 'scramble' and Benedict you can imagine. 
  • Bluefire Grill ($$$) La Costa Resort & Spa's upscale restaurant serving everything from beef and lamb to vegetable risotto and...wait for it...a rip on traditional Canadian poutine.
  • Claire's on Cedros ($) Wildly popular - and dog-friendly - breakfast haunt in Solana Beach. 
  • Cody's ($-$$) Super cute and perfectly-situated breakfast/lunch joint in the heart of La Jolla.  Grab an al-fresco table for a fabulous view of the ocean
  • Diversions Sport Lounge ($$) Great place to grab a cocktail and light snack in between meals or during the big game.  I'm partial to the margaritas.
  • George's California Modern ($$$) For legit dining in San Diego, this is one of the very best in terms of food quality and progression (staying abreast of current food trends). 
  • Ki's ($$-$$$) Don't let the slow and unknowledgeable service scare you off; Ki's makes both a KILLER roasted chicken and a macadamia nut-crusted mahi-mahi entree.  Appetizers and desserts proved underwhelming.
  • Pacifica del Mar ($$$) A bit tired and overpriced, PdM arguably boasts one of the best locations in Del Mar.
  • Solace and the Moonlight Lounge ($$) My favorite non-Mexican restaurant in North County because of the perfectly-crafted cocktails, wonderful food (including the best grilled fish tacos on the planet), and a great outdoor patio overlooking town.
  • The Med ($$-$$$) Arguably one of the most gorgeous dining spaces in San Diego proper; perfect for the 'lady who lunches.'  ;)
  • Tin Leaf ($-$$) A healthier approach to casual quick-service, complete with wine and beer.  Although orders are placed at a counter, your meal is hand delivered to your table. 
  • Tom's Famous Family Restaurant ($) Delicious, traditional grilled cheese sandwiches and the best ranch dressing I've ever had the pleasure of tasting (random tidbit, I know, but this stuff is *so good* that I ordered a pint to take home). 

Cuisine: Bakeries, coffee, sweet shops

  • V.G. Donut & Bakery ($) Trust me, you will not find a better apple fritter on the planet. 
  • Yogurt Shack ($) What a welcome addition to the otherwise fro-yo desolate territory which surrounds the La Costa Resort & Spa!  Great selection of flavors and more toppings and mix-ins than one would ever know what to do with. 

Cuisine: Mexican

  • El Nopalito Market & Restaurant ($) Tortillas, chips, salsa, and guacamole are a *must purchase* from the retail market.  If it's tacos you're craving, head to the restaurant.  Their shredded beef/hard shell cannot be beat!
  • Haggos Organic Taco ($) Tacos made with extra TLC (in the form of healthier, wholesome organic ingredients)
  • Juanita's Taco Shop ($) My family's long-standing, quick-casual Mexican/taco shop.  I recommend a combo plate with a cheese enchilada, beef taco, rice and beans.
  • Kotija Jr. Taco Shop ($) Another stiff competitor in the North County taco-shop game.
  • Rudy's Taco Shop ($) Another stiff competitor in the North County taco-shop game.

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

Thursday
Jul102014

LOS ANGELES / Best bets from our local farmers' markets

Sure, fruits and veggies are a mainstay at each and every farmers market.  But handmade, artisanal products - at least in my opinion - are rare gems.  These treasures are incredibly unique and, if they taste as delicious as they look, make their particular market worth returning to time and time again.  Such is the case with my growing list of favorites, below.

For a list of all California Certified Farmers Markets in the area, click here.

 

Farmers market: Century City

  • Bond Bar Specializing in both handmade chocolate bars and these crazy delicious, multi faceted and textured "smores bars," this little stand's products blew me away.  Whatever you do, don't miss the dark chocolate/coconut bar.  Think Mounds...on crack.  And steroids.  At the same time.
  • Joie Et Macarons  Dare I say that Joie's salted caramel macarons are better than anything I've had in New York and, gasp, Paris?  It's true, folks.  Owner, Amanda Campbell, and her sister make each and every component from scratch.  Right down to the almond flour that creates that perfect cookie "crunch."  I also recommend the dark chocolate variety!

Farmers market: The Original Farmers Market

  • Bennett's Ice Cream There are only four words that you need to know upon your visit to Bennett's: Salted caramel ice cream.  It's fan-fcuking-tastic.
  • Pampas Grill  Delicious Brazilian delicacies sold by the pound (think perfectly cooked meats)
  • Short Cake Check to see if they have their amazing Verve Coffee brownies/bites.  They are bitterly rich and dark chocolate-y in taste and fudgey in texture.  Dynamite!

...

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

Tuesday
Jul082014

ORANGE COUNTY / Where to eat 

“Where to eat” is an ongoing list series that will be updated frequently

Pricing key:

$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $20

$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $40

$$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $60

Cuisine: American

  • Bandera ($$-$$$) Situated under the Hillstone restaurant umbrella, Bandera evokes the company's traditionally dim, somewhat romantic atmosphere and reliable eats and drinks. 
  • Splashes ($$$) This is my favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach.  What's not to love (...except the prices and the noise level)?  Seaside dining and cocktails/wine at its absolute best.
  • Summer House ($$) Intimate, yet warming and inviting, Summer House is the perfect venue for a casual family - or date - meal in the neighborhood.
  • True Food Kitchen ($$) Healthy food that doesn't suck.  Period.  The location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach comes equipped with a spacious outdoor patio and...drum roll, please...alcohol! 
  • Wilma's Patio ($-$$) My favorite spot on Balboa Island boasts a multi-faceted menu with something for everyone.  I am particularly fond of their Mexican cuisine.

Cuisine: Bakeries, coffee, sweet shops

  • B Candy ($) One of the cutest candy shops that I've encountered in a very long time, not to mention legit.  Why do I say that?  Because, in addition to candy, they carry an assortment of delicious, handmade frosted cookies and uniquely flavored, artisanal ice creams.  I highly recommend the cookies (my favorite is the frosted surf board).
  • Cafe Lucca ($) While I cannot comment on the rest of the menu, Cafe Lucca's handmade gelato is, without a doubt, the best I've had in the country. 
  • Portola Coffee Lab ($) The closest thing to an artisanal NYC coffee shop this side of Brooklyn.  I recommend the "flat white," which is similar to a Cuban cortado (espresso and warm milk).
  • Sweet Jill's Bakery ($) Fudge and chocolate chip cookie dough-topped brownies.  Need I say more?  Didn't think so.

Cuisine: Japanese, sushi

  • Sota Sushi ($$) While we didn't particularly enjoy the rolls, Sota'splated dishes are fantastic, namely the carpaccios, and the "sizzles."

Cuisine: Mexican

  • Avila's El Ranchito($-$$) Traditional Cal-Mex at its best; no frills, just solid plates of delicious - albeit greasy - Mexican food (just the way I like it).
  • Sol Cocina ($$) Come here for the views and the location; stay here for the gratis chips, salsa, and black bean dip.

Cuisine: Steakhouse

  • Fleming's Prime Steakhouse ($$$) Although it's a chain, Fleming's runs its steakhouses like tight, well-oiled ships.  You can depend on a sexy, masculine-modern atmosphere, skilled and knowledgeable employees, a nice array of wines and cocktails and, most importantly, tasty grub.    
  • Mozambique ($$-$$$) Perfectly situated, multi-level space boasting a rooftop with one of the best unobstructed ocean views of Laguna Beach.  Menu is a bit confused, it seems, as the restaurant is more of a mish-mash of global cuisines; not a traditional/proper "steakhouse."  Are there even steaks offered on the menu? 
  • The Bungalow($$$) Quite possibly, my favorite steakhouse in the country because of its unique, "non-chain" atmosphere, steaks so tender that you could cut them with a fork, strong cocktails, and excellent sides.   

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

Tuesday
Jul082014

LOS ANGELES / Where to eat: Westside Coastal

“Where to eat” is an ongoing list series that will be updated frequently

Pricing key:

$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $20

$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $40

$$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $60

Cuisine: American

  • Burger Lounge ($) This isn’t your run-of-the-mill fast food burger joint, folks.  Not when they’re making theirs with grass-fed beef.  Or organic chicken.  Or albacore tuna.  If you’re looking for a $0.99 value menu, this is not the place.
  • Lemonade ($) A fast-casual cafeteria that focuses on fresh Southern California comfort foods (think bountiful veggies, grains, and hearty mains)…plus a variety of fresh-squeezed, fruit-infused lemonades (ahem, guava!).  And don’t miss the sinful house-made desserts!

Cuisine: Bakeries, coffee, sweet shops

  • Groundwork Coffee ($) Look beyond the stereotypical artisanal coffee house ‘hipster intimidation’ and just do what I tell you: Order the Vietnamese Iced Coffee.  It will change your life.

Cuisine: Californian

  • Coast at Shutters on the Beach ($$-$$$) Located a mere beach chair’s length away from the sand, Coast serves California cuisine in a lovely, casually sophisticated space.  My only gripes were the pre-packaged breadsticks instead of fresh bread and butter (upon seating), and slow/aloof service.  For dessert, indulge in a slice of one of Susie Cakes‘ finest.
  • FIG ($-$$) Revel in seasonal, local California-centric cuisine in The Fairmont Miramar Hotel’s poolside restaurant.  For a healthy breakfast/brunch entree, I recommend the ‘Frittata Verde’ with a double-side of the tomatillo-avocado salsa.  And a table al-fresco.

Cuisine: Italian

  • Gjelina ($-$$) While this may be one of the most famous restaurants in LA, I didn’t want that to prevent or intimidate me from going last weekend while in Venice.  So, in order to avoid a hellish wait, Shelley and I arrived at 3pm and were seated immediately. Save for Italy, I never thought I’d eat better pizza outside of NYC.  That was until I had Gjelina’s “Pomodoro Crudo.”  Best. Pizza. Ever.
  • Hostaria del Piccolo ($$) Sexy and dependable Italian with indoor/outdoor space and a killer cocktail list.

Cuisine: Seafood

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

Tuesday
Jul082014

LOS ANGELES / Where to eat: Downtown

“Where to eat” is an ongoing list series that will be updated frequently

Pricing key:

$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $20

$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $40

$$$: Price per person, before alcohol, under $60

Cuisine: Italian

  • Bottega Louie  ($$-$$$) While the grand space (think 20+ foot high ceilings) that houses the dining room and swanky chocolate/petit-fours counter is chic and polished, its casual sophistication is 100% not-intimidating.  If you think that you can’t get decent pizza outside of New York, I dare you to sample any one of Bottega’s impressive pies.

Cuisine: Japanese/sushi

  • Katsuya at L.A. Live ($$-$$$) Worst. Service. Ever.  And seriously not-fresh fish (think spongey crab legs and gummy, jaw achingly-chewy crispy rice).  What a disappointment!  The location in Hollywood is much better.

Cuisine: Pizza

  • LA Pizza Company  ($) Perhaps it’s the fact that LAPC delivers to its next door neighbor, Sunset Beer,  but even a seasoned New Yorker will agree that these pies are surprisingly solid.  Sober or not.

Cuisine: Small plates

  • Perch  ($$-$$$) Perched high above downtown LA (think 15 floors) sits a bi-level bistro and bar  with 360-degree views of the City of Angels.  Sip on a refreshing ‘Aperol Spritz’ while you nosh on the likes of baked brie, ahi tuna tartare, and gougeres.

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

Tuesday
Jul082014

LOS ANGELES / Lust list: My dining, cocktailing, and 'everything else' list of hopefuls

LA dining, cocktailing, and ‘everything else’ spots that I’m dying to check out (…to be updated frequently)

Restaurants/eateries

Bars

Everything else

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites