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!



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In 2015, I resolve to...read nutritional labels more carefully.

If you're anything like me - and many other Americans - then you're roughly 1-10 pounds "fluffier" than you were 2 months ago.  Sigh.

Although it is, without a doubt, the most wonderful time of the year, November and December also happen to be the most gluttonous time of the year...


So, in keeping with all of this "New Year's resolutions" crap, I am happy to report that, as of January 2, I've been consciously trying to eat cleaner and more mindfully.  Has it been perfect?  Absolutely not.  Especially when it comes to my alcohol intake.  Here's a great example: For breakfast, I was recently on an oatmeal kick until, after reading the small, finer print on the nutrition label, I learned that my beloved, albeit gimmicky, mason jar filled with "Haulin' Oats" was a double serving.  That's right: Instead of consuming what I thought was just 300 calories, I was wolfing down 600!  Can you believe that?  What company makes a double serving of oatmeal in a single-serving container?  Like I'm going to share it with a coworker, or something?  WTF is that?  Seriously!?  Thanks guys.  Thanks for making me fat!  And not with something exciting, like pizza or Mexican food...but with oatmeal!  OATMEAL.  Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Alternatively, I've started eating Survival Bars for brekkie.  Besides the fact that each bar is a SINGLE SERVING, what I like about this particular brand is that, unlike most others on the market, Survival Bars have no salt, refined sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors/colors, trans fats, gluten, or soy.  Plus, they're 100% Vegan, organic/non GMO, and 90% of the ingredients are raw!  Stop.  I know what you're thinking, so I'm going to answer you right now: No, Survival Bars DO NOT taste like shit or dirt or some type of exotic grass.  They're delicious and filling, with most varieties boasting 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  And 300 calories or less.    

So, happy 2015, dear readers!  And here's to hoping that substituting Survival Bars for Haulin' Oats, Honeycrisp apples for peanut butter M+Ms, and boring ass green tea for warm, sugary coffee drinks will soon pay off.


Until we eat again, 

The Lunch Belle


LOS ANGELES / Review-on-the-quick: Tacos Por Favor

Restaurant: Tacos Por Favor

  • Cuisine: Mexican (fast casual)
  • Location: 1408 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles
  • Pricing: $
  • What's delicious: Eh...
  • FYI: Small salsa bar stocked with some of the most delicious Mexican "jardinere" in town

After enjoying one too many cocktails at The Bungalow, I was craving some sober-me-up fare.  As Mexican is my go-to comfort cuisine, I headed to the closest "hole in the wall" spot that I could find.  With the positive reviews I had read on Yelp and Menupages (What?  I haven't found my favorite local blog, yet!), I figured that I was in good hands...

Service aside - because everyone who was working there last night was lovely - I was pretty disappointed with my meal.  Granted, the hard-taco shell was homemade, but the beef that it enveloped was cubed; not shredded, like the employee who took my order had promised.  The red sauce on my cheese enchiladas tasted like ketchup, and the jamoncillo was dry, as was the cinnamon/sugar cookie.  Sigh, at least the Mexican Coke was satisfying.

Do you have any favorite fast-casual Mexican go-to's?  I'm in dire need!


LOS ANGELES / Reviewed: Terroni (downtown location)

Restaurant: Terroni

  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Location: 802 S Spring St, Los Angeles 90015
  • Pricing: $$
  • What's delicious: Pizza; Aperol Spritz cocktail; make sure to ask for a side of the red chiles for your pasta and pizza (game changer!)
  • FYI: Unless the public lot across Spring Street is full, don't overpay for valet.

You know you truly adore someone when you drive downtown - during rush hour - for a dinner date...

Terroni resides within a historic bank building, so you can only imagine the ceiling heights that reach to the heavens, the oversized windows, and the interior detailing that seems to have gone away eons before any of us took our first breath.  Rounding out the space is a fully-stocked bar that hugs the center of the dining room like a coiled snake.

Having become slightly obsessed with California wines, I was taken aback when trying to decipher which Italian red would be most similar to my beloved Napa cabernet.  Our hurried server promised to send over one of the expert wine staff to aid me in my decision.  Ten minutes and no sommelier later, I marched up to the bar, myself, and ordered a glass of Brunello.  By the time I returned to our table, I was greeted by a new server and much happier fellow diners.

After placing our food order, we were gifted with gratis sliced bread and a dish of fragrant olive oil.  Shortly thereafter, our shared appetizers arrived.

Fiori di Zucchine Stuffed with parmesan and house made ricotta cheese, four squash blossoms were deep fried to a perfect golden brown and crowned with flash-fried zucchini slices and fresh basil leaves. 

While I love the concept of cheese-stuffed fritters, I am confident that these would be much more unctuous and moist if, instead, they were stuffed with marscapone cheese or a blend of ricotta and marscapone.

Funghi Assoluti Tossed with parmesan cheese, sweet balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic, baked oyster mushrooms were served warm over a cool bed of spicy arugula greens. 

Our table devoured this salad within what seemed like seconds!  I highly recommend this dish for a group of folks with mixed dietary restrictions; the mushrooms are rich and meaty (although, obviously, meatless) and the savory flavors are exciting and bold.

Spaghetti al Limone Handmade spaghetti noodles were enveloped in a rich sauce composed of lemon and olive oil, before being tossed with spinach, onions, and briny capers.  Salty ribbons of parmesan cheese topped this mound of beautifully tangled pasta.

We thoroughly enjoyed this tangy, zesty "primi" that surprised us with exciting textures and an array of savory flavors with every bite.

"San Giorgio" pizza Oh, the beautiful things that an oven capable of reaching 900-degrees can do for a pizza!  Sadly, I do not have a picture of this masterpiece, but trust me when I say that this was the best pie I've had in recent memory.  Or yet, in my LA culinary adventures, for that matter!  Terroni's philosophy is NOT to pre-slice their pizzas, because "...in Italy pizza is served uncut to preserve its integrity and keep it hot."

A pillowy, charred crust gave way to robust tomato sauce, stringy mozzarella cheese, spicy Calabrese salame, and quartered mushrooms.  It was nothing short of dynamite!


As a newcomer to LA, my goal is to not repeat the same restaurant twice.  However, I can not stop thinking about this meal; there is just no way that I will only eat here once!!


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?


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...


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... 


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

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