Though we're already charging into the month of November, I have to admit I'm still reeling from the drama of last last month. Saying good-bye to some well-loved spots -- including Noca, The Local, and soon, Petite Maison -- made October seem at times like a never-ending slew of bad news. Looking back, however, it was also a month of some really great eats. This list of top food and drinks includes some new finds from favorite spots and a selection from one of the many new restaurants to open last month.
I hope you get to try some of it for yourself soon.
Baby Octopus from Forge Pizza
There are plenty of places with octopus on the menu right now and a handful of them do it quite well (like here and here). Forge Pizza, an admittedly "unpretentious" pizza shop, isn't exactly the kind of restaurant you'd expect to fall into the later category and yet you'd be mistaken to skip the restaurant's octopus starter. It's available on the dinner menu and features baby tendrils of tender octopus over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes. An Old Bay aioli makes a perfect complement, along with breadcrumbs for texture and some baby arugula.
Southern Bread Pudding from Tarbell's
Unless you live in the surrounding neighborhood it's probably been a while since you enjoyed a meal at Tarbell's, which, to be honest, is sort of a shame. Classic restaurants like this often get understandably overlooked in favor of newer, trendier spots but in the case of Tarbell's you have a longstanding restaurant that's still serving great food. The seasonal, fresh dinner entrees are probably worth the extra pennies but no matter what you do, don't skip dessert. Tarbell's is still dishing out Southern Bread Pudding, an excellent example of the classic, simple dessert. The custard-like bread pudding, made with leftover housemade bread, is just sweet enough to justify the generous amount of fragrant Kentucky bourbon sauce that gets scooped on top. The portion is definitely meant for sharing but I won't judge if you keep it all for yourself.
Cuff Posole from Cuff
Chef Tom Harvey's menu at Cuff in Glendale may seem conventional at first glance, but look at little closer and you'll see the chef's inventive stamp on American cuisine. The best example of Harvey's approachable but creative streak may be the Cuff Posole, a dish he actually created long before he opened this charming spot. Instead of pieces of pork, the stew contains roasted pork pot stickers, which maintain their crunch and texture in an instantly likeably way. Hominy, cilantro, and coijita cheese round out the flavors of the tomato-chiptole broth in which the crispy dumplings rest. The dish is already becoming something of the chef and restaurant's signature and after one try, I'm thinking you'll understand why.
Lumpia Shanghai from Casa Filipina
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SHOW ME HOW
If you're willing to drive to the west side of town you can find some pretty good Filipino cuisine at Casa Filipina. Sure, Filipino food isn't the most approachable of ethnic eats, but in this Cafe Review I gave first time diners a few tips on where to start. One of my favorite Filipino dishes is also one of the most basic and familiar. Lumpia shanghai are pretty much just Filipino-style egg rolls that are rolled tighter and thinner than their other Asian counterparts. The flavorful filling of pork and spices make this a deeply satisfying starter and with a side of sweet-sour chile sauce, you're likely to be fighting over the last one with your dinner companions.
Cinnamon Whiskey from Crudo
Self-respect and not wanting to drink anti-freeze should probably be reason enough to make us all quit drinking Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. But don't worry, that doesn't mean you have to give up on the undeniably enjoyable combination of flavors. If you head to Bar Crudo you might be able to convince mixologist Micah Olson to mix up a shot of his own take on cinnamon whiskey, one that doesn't include any crazy artificial sweeteners or otherwise scary chemicals. We're not sure what he puts in it and frankly, we don't really care. It's so perfectly sweet that you'll want to savor each sip and never, ever, ever let Fireball pass your lips again.