Welcome

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

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

xoxo, 

Lindsay

Search this site
My delicious calendar
Contributions & affiliations

Thoughtful Plate New York restaurants

 

 Blogger Black Book Top 100

Login

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

Thursday
Sep112014

Your grocer's freezer: Frozen meals that don't suck. And where to find them.

"Frozen meals that don't suck."  Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?  Well, for the most part, it is.  Frozen meals do suck!  I mean, is there anything more repulsive than the gnarly dusting of chopped tomatoes that top that frozen organic pizza?  Or the fake grill marks that are, quite literally, *drawn* on vegetables?  And how about those dinosaur-shaped nuggets that are made from "mechanically-separated" chicken?  Ewwww!  Gross!   

Just call me the "frozen food martyr."  In an effort to save a few bucks for weekday lunch (...OK, fine, and dinner), I've been bringing frozen meals to work and microwaving them in our communal pantry.  As depressing as that - and eating at my desk - sounds, the worst of it all is making awkward small talk with other coworkers who are doing the same GD thing.  Anyhoo, the point here is that I've tasted my fair share of this shet. 

The meals listed, below, are the best of the best of what's out there.  *Note that I stay away from anything that contains meat/poultry, as I don't trust that what's actually used is of any higher quality than the mystery meat in my dog's kibble

...

TaDah Falafel Wraps (Ralph's)

My tip: Because falafel can get dry, make sure to have a side of salsa or tzatziki dipping sauce (make yourself with Greek yogurt, dill, salt, pepper, and garlic) on the side.  Photo credit: TaDah Foods

Evol's Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese (Ralph's, Vons/Pavillion's, Target)

My tip: This makes a great side dish suitable for two people.  Or one person, if you have an appetite like mine...Photo credit: Evol Foods

Amy's Kitchen: Mexican Casserole Bowl (sold at practically every supermarket, bodega, Target, etc. out there)

My tip: Follow the "conventional oven" directions, if you can.  Otherwise, the microwaved version is perfectly fine, too.Photo credit: Amy's

Trader Joe's Cheese & Green Chile Tamales (Trader Joe's)

My tip: These beauties are totally satisfying, authentic, and unbelievably delicious.  Pair with salsa and enjoy!

Trader Joe's Korean Scallion Pancakes/Pa jeon (Trader Joe's)

My tip: Griddle on stove top and serve with soy sauce to dip.  This is one of the most mouth-watering products available in the frozen aisle, in my humble opinion.

 

What are some of your favorite frozen meals?  Have you ever tried any of the selections that I listed, above?

Tuesday
Sep092014

LOS ANGELES / El Lay: What I like about you

Whew!  It's been a while, hasn't it?  I've been so busy settling in from my recent move, adjusting to new everything, blah blah, etc. etc., that I'm literally just starting to come up for air...

(Exhales)

I've been a bit homesick lately so, in an effort to make myself feel better, I decided to make a list of all the things that I enjoy about my new life here in LA.  After all, it's almost been 4-months since I moved from NYC!

Here goes, "things I like about LA"...

  • Every bathroom stall, regardless of how hoity-toity or crappy the venue, is stocked with toilet seat covers.
  • Neighbors actually interact with one another.  In fact, I met 3/4 of mine on the first day I moved in (although that, in and of itself, was quite overwhelming).
  • Instead of seamlessly walking to the bodega for a midnight ice-cream run , I'm just too GD lazy to get in my car here and search for something that's even open outside of my immediate radius.
  • There's this amazing, old-school rap/hip hop station, K-DAY 93.5, that plays all of the jams that we used to listen to in the 90's.  Think Tupac, Snoop, Notorious BIG, Easy, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas...................  
  • LA is where gangsta' rap was born, y'all! 
  • All of this sunshine is good for me.  I guess... 
  • It's socially acceptable not to date a guy who doesn't work in finance.
  • The cost of living is almost 50% less (for me, at least) than it was in NYC.
  • The average cocktail ranges from $9-$14; in NYC, I was looking at $14-$20.  And I drink.  A lot.
  • Palm trees.
  • Mexican food.
  • Outdoor dining.  All year long.
  • My neighborhood.
  • My pup, Lucy, loves going for walks outdoors and meeting new friends.  In NYC, she would get so dirty on walks that we had to resort to "ball in the hall," a game where I would throw the tennis ball down our floor of the apartment building's long hallway and she would run and fetch.
  • Ralph's Grocery Store, which is stocked with some of the coolest (no pun intended) and hard-to-find frozen meals on the market.  And a Murray's Cheese kiosk.
  • Sushi.  It's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy better here.  And Sugarfish is the best of the best.
  • The expansive view from my 39th-floor office.  Including, but not limited to, Candy Spelling's two-story penthouse.
  • My sister and her husband live 45-minutes away. 
  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
  • The chile relleno burrito from La Azteca Tortilleria
  • Ridiculous shet to make fun of.  Like this...
  • And this tidbit of info, if it's actually true...
  • The new friends that I've made here (special shout-out to Cate and Elaina).
  • Reconnecting with old friends (Marisa, Cristina, Yas, Nicole, Meg & Hung, Carmen, Ada, and Portia).
  • Driving: I actually don't mind or dread it as much as I thought I would.
  • LA Mexican Food Lovers' Meetup Group: You're damn right I started this group here!
  • I can walk, bike, or drive to work.  It's only 1.5 miles each way!
  • Seeing Larry King huddled at his favorite corner booth with all of his cronies (at the bagel shop he owns close to my apartment) always puts a smile on my face.
  • The cocktails at Goldie's...
  • My apartment and its square footage.
  • Events that rival those in NYC...
  • Wine, beer, AND alcohol is sold in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores.  And we're not talking Franzia, folks!  This shet is legit.

I'm sure there are more things that I like in and about LA, but this is a list that immediately came to mind.  That's a good start, no?  Come to think of it, there aren't too many things that I don't like about this town but, at the end of the day, it's just not NYC.  And I looooooooooooooove NYC.  So then why the hell did you skip town, you ask?  First and foremost, I have always yearned to be closer to my family.  The other two major reasons?  Well, let's just say that they didn't work out according to plan.  But, hey, you live and you learn... 

Speaking of The Big Apple, I'm headed back home in November for the first time since I moved.  While I'm ecstatic, I'm also terrified.  Will I not want to board my LA-bound plane at the end of my trip, or will that chill in the air and hustle/bustle assure me that it's OK I left?  Only time will tell... 

Monday
Aug182014

LOS ANGELES / Where to drink: Perfect spots to sip poolside

“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

...  

$$$

  • Cabana Cafe Situated poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Cabana Cafe offers an assortment of casual bites and some of the best cocktails in town.  Pair that with tropical foliage and a spectacular view, and you've got yourself the perfect midday retreat.  Not a hotel guest?  No worries; no one is going to hassle you for a room card.
  • Trader Vic's Sip Hawaiian/tiki cocktails at this retro indoor/outdoor watering hole located on the poolside at The Beverly Hilton.

...

Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites

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