Welcome

**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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  • 8/31: the lil' one's wedding
  • 12/24-1/1: London
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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, Beverly Hills Bites

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, Beverly Hills Bites

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: 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, Beverly Hills Bites

Monday
Jul142014

LOS ANGELES / Where to eat: South LA

“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: Mexican

  • Taqueria Los Anaya ($) BYOB-friendly Mexican with the option to order at the counter or receive waiter service.  Decent food, namely the homemade chips, rice and beans and, from what I hear, the tacos.

...

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

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.

Cuisine: Steakhouse

  • Argyle Steakhouse ($$$) From the lovely atmosphere and gorgeous panoramic views, to the freshly-baked popovers and "one free rub/sauce/crust" included with your protein, the Argyle is an all-around winner!

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! 
  • Ihsan's Falafel "Do you know what makes Sudanese falafel different?" Asked the friendly employee handing out fresh-out-of-the-frier samples.  "Dill!" I excalimed after my first bite.  And what a delicious difference it makes!  Do not miss this      

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