The difference between the Los Angeles food scene and the Phoenix food scene is that in L.A., every restaurant is a scene.
And that's fine by us. L.A. is the place where the American cupcake takeover began (Sprinkles Cupcakes), In-N-Out was founded, and juicing became an acceptable diet. No, these are not reasons to deter you from visiting. In fact, what are you waiting for? It's only a 50-minute plane ride or a seven-hour drive (give or take) from the Valley of the Sun. Southern California has beaches and Arizona doesn't. Enough said. And here's a list of what to eat while you're there.
Blackout Espresso Fudge Cake at Sweet Lady Jane Bakery The European-influenced bakery and cafe is an L.A. institution. Cake is the canvas for the bakers at Sweet Lady, and the inside tastes as good as the outside looks. Among our favorites is the blackout espresso fudge cake, a combination of dark chocolate fudge and espresso so dense it's an arm workout to cut a slice. The cake is haphazardly painted with vanilla buttercream frosting dyed every color of the rainbow; it looks similar to something you may have drawn in preschool. Nearly all the other cakes, pies, and baked goods are meticulously decorated with flowers and fruit. The bakery, which has locations in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, is set up like a cafe with late hours (until 11:30 p.m. Saturdays). Sharing a slice of cake and sipping coffee at Sweet Lady Jane is unlike any other L.A. culinary experience.
Trust Me Sushi at Sugarfish
Authentic Japanese sushi is hard to come by in the States, but Sugarfish gets the job done. Sushi Chef Kazunori Nozawa has been serving traditional sushi in L.A. at the less-trendy Sushi Nozawa for years. The star at Sushi Nozawa is melt-in-your-mouth fish from one of the "Trust Me" menus. The original "Trust Me" will cost you $30 for edamame, Tuna sashimi, a Blue Crab hand roll, a Toro Hand roll. Additionally, salmon, albacore, halibut, and yellowtail sushi are served one after the other with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. The fish could stand on its own, but the real kicker is the rice. Warm sticky rice complements the cold fish and is topped with Sugarfish's homemade soy sauce. With seven locations, from Calabasas to Santa Monica, there's no excuse not to try some of the best sushi on the West Coast -- not even traffic.
Breakfast Burrito at Kreation Los Angeles is home to some of the most health-conscious people in the world, and when those people are hungry, they head to Kreation Kafe. Kreation is widely known among health aficionados as a juice bar, but it also has a full menu that beats vegetable pulp any day. The breakfast burrito at Kreation is actually called a wrap, but it's not fooling anyone. Inspired by huevos rancheros, the restaurant has managed to make something fattening into something, dare we say, healthy. Organic eggs, black beans, roasted corn, avocado, and heap of lettuce are wrapped in a warm tortilla for just under $10. The breakfast burrito is filling and tasty, but not overwhelming like other burritos. Be warned, the whole place reeks of wheatgrass, so it's best to find a table on the patio --unless you're into that sort of thing.
Stracetti Al Basilico at Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi Giorgio Baldi's is sort of a celebrity scene without being a scene, but the food and atmosphere are unrivaled. The family-run restaurant prides itself on traditional Italian dishes like handmade pasta and never-ending fresh bread. The Stracetti Al Basilico is a square basil pasta with tomato sauce and fresh basil. The pasta is about an inch wide and topped with fresh Parmesan. The plate is relatively small, but still satisfying. The pasta sauces (tomato basil, mushroom, arrabiata) are so good that they started bottling and selling the stuff. The pasta tastes exactly like it would in Italy, and the friendly staff (who speak Italian) only add to the experience. Baldi's is best-reserved for special occasions because prices are a little steep, around $20 for a pasta dish and about $40 for a meat dish.
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Moroccan Baked Eggs at Gjelina Abbot Kinney road in Venice is ironically home to one of the most refined and rustic restaurants in L.A. for serious foodies. Ironic because Venice is home to some colorful characters like fortune tellers, body builders, rock stars, and some people who can't be categorized. Arguably the most Instagrammable meal on the West Coast, Morrocan Baked eggs are almost too beautiful to eat. A skillet warms fried eggs, Merguez sausage, chili, tomato sauce, cilantro and spiced yogurt. The whole thing is served with a slice of toasted sourdough for dipping. The Middle Eastern breakfast with a California twist is the way to go, but their pizzas are pretty amazing as well. Ask for a fried egg on top and it counts as breakfast. The back garden/patio is the ideal spot to enjoy the $15 meal.