Welcome

**Readers!  I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site alive while I simultaneously author Beverly Hills Bites.  Check it out!**

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
Aug152014

LOS ANGELES / Speidi's "Don Antonio" and a Postmates discount code!

**Because Postmates, the newest food/shopping delivery service, is still new and trying to get the word out, they graciously extended a discount to my first twenty readers who use this code, good for a $20 delivery fee credit: BHBITES20.  Now hurry up and go get your discounted grub on, y'all!  You're welcome, in advance!**

.

As if the ‘Sunday blues’ weren’t bad enough, the thought of cooking dinner made me cringe.  Plus, my fridge resembled that of a male college student’s – 3 beers, a stick of butter, ½ of an onion, and jam - so, clearly, there wasn't much I could do.  After having perused the offerings on Seamless Web, I wasn’t that intrigued.  Before getting in to an “I miss the abundance of restaurants and conveniences in NYC” tizzy, I remembered my colleague mentioning another delivery service called “Postmates."  After doing a search online, I was informed that in order to proceed, I would have to download the Postmates app.  Sigh.  As if my iPhone didn't already have enough crap on it.  The gist of Postmates is this: Pick any store or restaurant (regardless of whether they personally deliver or not), and then have your item(s) delivered to you by a “Post Mate” for a fee starting at $5.  Best of all, there’s real-time tracking and ETAs, so you know exactly when you’ll receive your goods!

In true fashion, it was Mexican food that I was craving.  I was impressed by all of the mouth-watering options on Postmates that went lightyears above and beyond those on Seamless.  Basically, you’re not restricted to just your neighborhood or one “class” of restaurant.  I ultimately chose to order dinner from Don Antonio's, a spot that I recall having salivated over while watching Speidi's first anniversary dinner on The Hills.

After seamlessly placing my order through the Postmates app, I was able to track the status of my delivery through a live map!  And, in under an hour, my meal was hand-delivered by a friendly Post Mate.  Warm and intact. 

Mmmmm, look at all of the residual cheese grease on the box!Delicious handmade tortilla chips and a cup of robust salsa complimented my meal.  To wash it all down, I ordered and iced horchata, which wasn't as sweet and satisfying as I had hoped.  However, my entree made up for it: A trio of cheese enchiladas came enveloped in a bland, red ranchero sauce and was accompanied by perfectly cooked and seasoned rice and refried beans. 

My first experience with Postmates was an extremely pleasant and successful one.  I cannot wait to use this service again, especially after having seen that Sugarfish, my favorite sushi joint, is listed as one of their "featured stores!!"

...

Lindsay

Monday
Aug112014

LOS ANGELES / Where to drink: My favorite happy hours

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

Pricing key: 

approximate price per drink is under $10

$$  approximate price per drink is under $15

$$$  approximate price per drink is under $20

...  

$

  • Pink Taco Great after-work scene, al-fresco cocktailing options, and a killer food/drink menu offering plenty of options for under $10.

...  

Lindsay

Monday
Aug112014

LOS ANGELES / Where to eat: The Eastside

“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

  • Cliff's Edge ($-$$) Although it's not perched on the side of a cliff, this charming restaurant/cocktail den is a neighborhood gem.  You cannot beat the expansive outdoor dining lair and delicious brunch offerings; whether you choose to eat - or drink - your meal.

Cuisine: Bakeries

  • El Gallo Bakery ($) Traditional Mexican bakery offering both sweet and savory favorites.  Make sure not to miss the delicate lace cookies or the long sesame-seeded roll stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos.

Cuisine: Mexican

  • La Azteca Tortilleria ($) If you're looking for a comfortable experience complete with waiter service and air conditioning, this is not your jam.  However, if it's a life-altering chile relleno burrito you crave, you simply *cannot beat* this not-so-hidden East LA gem.  Trust me, it's destination-worthy.

...

Lindsay

Wednesday
Jul232014

A hairy situation: Desperately searching for my mane man

As if picking up ten years of my life (moving from New York City to LA) wasn't hard enough, the "shear" thought of first finding - then trusting - a new stylist for my precious coiffe was almost as daunting.  I mean, you all know how hard it is to secure a good hair person.  It's almost the equivalent of dating!  How often do you find someone you actually like?  Not very.

After scouring Yelp and cross referencing my results with other websites, I chose "B" at A.T. Tramp because 1) I saw that he specialized in color and received decent reviews, and 2) the salon was located merely blocks from my new apartment.

Upon my first visit to the salon in June, I was thrilled to have my ridiculously high standards nearly met (points deducted for not serving wine/champagne during service): Aside from doing an excellent job, "B" and I could not stop talking.  I felt like I'd known him for years!  What's more, I observed a few customers with small dogs in tow and, upon informing him that I would have loved to have brought mine, was told by "B" that Lucy could accompany me next time. 

I had my second appointment last Thursday night at 6:30pm.  Nothing major was scheduled, just a simple single process.  At 6:32pm, I received a call from the receptionist, "Hi ma'am, 'B' wanted me to call to make sure you were still coming."  Huh?  Was this chick for real?  I informed her that I was just around the corner.  I mean, I get running 15-20 minutes late but, for god's sake, since when did 2-minutes past set off alarm bells?  Especially in LA?  After all, I was told that "Thursday's are our late days, so a 6:30 appointment is perfectly feasible."

When I walked in, the receptionist was shocked to see that I had my dog with me.  She said that only service animals were allowed.  While I totally understood that, recall that "B" told me I could "bring my pup next time."  After informing her of that little tidbit, she begrudgingly let it slide.  "Just remember that (only service animals allowed) for next time, ok?"  When "B" came to fetch me for my appointment, he did not seem to recognize me.  Not that he absolutely should have, or that I'm so unforgettable, but still!  We spent hours together upon my last visit.  I guess he wasn't the only one; the receptionist asked if this was my first appointment at the salon.

During the color application, "B" was radio silent and made no attempt at conversing.  He seemed hurried and very preoccupied; certainly not the same, jovial person I had interacted with just a month prior.  I couldn't help but feel like I was a burden.  Before he left me alone to color process for 35 minutes, he randomly perked up and offered me magazines and a beverage.  "Your dog is so cute and well behaved!!"  But that was the last I saw of him; 35-minutes later, his assistant came to wash my hair and, when she was done, I was left to my own devices, not sure whether to sit and wait for "B" in his styling chair, or…?  Wet hair and all, I approached the receptionist, who then informed me that "B sent me a text. He left."  REALLY??  What kind of stylist leaves before their client?  What if my color looked like crap?  What if I wanted a cut?  Or a blowout?  I was completely shocked, insulted, and disgusted.  I have never, in my life, been made to feel more invisible, worthless, or small.  Well, at least not since junior high...

When I got home that night, I couldn't help but wonder how a reputable salon, almost 40-years strong, could have such a careless employee.  This kind of crap wouldn't stand a chance in NYC!  I felt my heart sink to my stomach: I was homesick and heart broken. 

The next morning, I was able to get in touch with one of the salon's owners.  "This is an isolated incident...I pulled "B" aside and spoke to him.  If you decide to come back to the salon, ask for me, and I will give you a free conditioning treatment."  Gee, thanks.  A free conditioning treatment? Yah, that'll solve everything

Whair do I go from here?  Looks like I'm back to square one: Desperately searching for my mane man.

...

Lindsay

P.S. Do you have a hair person that you love?  Send your recommendations my way!

Monday
Jul142014

LOS ANGELES / Reviewed: Taqueria Los Anaya

Restaurant: Taqueria Los Anaya

  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Location: 4651 W. Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
  • Pricing: $ 
  • What's delicious: Handmade chips, tortillas (do NOT come here if you're low-carbing)
  • FYI: BYOB-friendly

Being that we were approximately 170-strong in NYC, I decided to start an "LA Mexican Food Lovers' Meetup" in my new town.  After all, this would be the first Mexican food-centric group on Meetup in Los Angeles.  Shocking, right?  Especially in a town that's known for their comida!  Our inaugural lunch was held this past Saturday at noon at Taqueria Los Anaya, located in South LA.

Customers can choose to order their food at a counter, or be served table side.  Our group of five chose the latter.  Upon being seated, our water glasses were filled and drink orders were taken.  I requested chips, salsa, and guacamole for each side of the table knowing that, if anyone ate as much of this stuff as I did, we'd be in trouble.  Quickly.

Each component of the "holy trinity" (chips, salsa, and guacamole) was dynamite.  It was obvious, both to the naked eye and after the very first bite, that the chips were made in-house.  As someone who thinks that pico-de-gallo is a waste of time, I appreciated that this particular salsa, while liquid-y in consistency, boasted healthy nibs of fresh onion, tomato, and cilantro.  The best of both salsa worlds - pico and liquid-y - if you will.  Although one of the members commented that the guacamole was too creamy, I appreciated its simplicity and how perfectly it was seasoned.      

After polishing off more than a handful of "holy trinity" rounds, our entrees arrived.  In true fashion, I ordered the cheese enchiladas with green sauce that were accompanied by rice and beans. 

Both the rice and beans were cooked perfectly, cementing one of the reasons why I moved to the City of Angels.  Perhaps if I wasn't so full, I would have enjoyed the enchiladas more but, at this point in the meal, everything began to lose its appeal. 

I would love to return and re-sample this identical entree, as the corn tortillas were thick and handmade - the Oaxacan cheese, unlike the variety that is used in New York, melted like a dream - and the tomatillo sauce was thick and tangy. 

The best aspect of all, though?  The bill.  My portion of the check was $11.44!  Did I mention that the orders of chips/salsa/guac were on my tab?  Pretty damn good, especially for this pricing-jaded New Yorker.

...

Lindsay

Monday
Jul142014

LOS ANGELES / Where to eat: Mid-Wilshire

“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

  • Republique ($$-$$$) One of LA's hottest restaurants boats a spacious, bi-level, loft-like space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a very San Francisco/New York atmosphere.  Whatever you do, make sure not to not miss the seasonal agnolotti (pasta).

Cuisine: French

  • Little Next Door ($-$$) Sister to The Little Door, this casual option is the perfect place to break bread over brunch.  Kick off your meal with a Kir Royale and end it with one of the many house-made French treats (ahem, salted caramel macarons!).

Cuisine: Mexican

  • Chipotle ($) I know this sounds INSANE, but Chipotle makes a seriously delicious margarita for under $10.  Don't stick your nose up until you try it...then report back to me!

Cuisine: Multiple

  • The Original Farmers Market ($) For those of you who, like me, always pictured a mobile produce caravan under a canopy of tents when you heard the word "farmers market," this place will throw you for a loop.  Imagine a cross between Pike Place Market in Seattle and Grand Central Market in NYC; only much smaller.  There are various food and drink kiosks offering everything from Singaporean lime juice to pulled pork sandwiches. 

...

Lindsay