LA Favorites: A-Frame

A few weeks ago, J and I made our way back to California for a family visit. (Boy, had I taken that weather for granted!) There were a few places we knew we needed to go back to. In-n-Out, of course. Maybe our favorite breakfast spot. And definitely A-Frame.

Located in our old ‘hood in the Mar Vista/Culver City/Venice-ish area, A-Frame was the last restaurant we ate at together before heading East. And it was frickin’ amazing.

For a while now I’ve been a huge fan of Roy Choi, who is the mastermind behind A-Frame, along with his other establishments Chego (another fave!) and Sunny Spot (a must-try next time I’m in LA!) Most importantly, he started off with the Kogi truck, which started the food truck revolution that so many of us are familiar with today. With a talent that combines his Korean background with Mexican influences of his hometown of Los Angeles, Roy Choi has created a unique and groundbreaking cuisine– no pretentious frou frou food, just Damn. Good. Food. A-Frame serves self-professed modern picnic food, meant to be eaten with your fingers and shared. And, to me at least, it doesn’t get any better than that.
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(Clockwise from top left) “Kitchen Fries” of different varieties of potatoes with kimchi sour cream, baby back ribs glazed with hoisin-chili sauce, dessert (more on that below), and sesame leaf wrapped shrimp tempura with a shoyu (soy sauce) dip.

The dessert– well, that deserves a standing ovation. This is the BEST dessert I have ever been served in a restaurant, and as you may have guessed, I have eaten a lot of desserts. It’s called “Chu-Don’t-Know-Mang”, because until you’ve tried it, chu really don’t know, mang. Churros– fried and made out of POUND CAKE, for goodness’ sake– are rolled in cinnamon, and served with malted chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream. Your eyes will roll back in your head. Yes. It’s that good.

A-Frame (Mar Vista/Culver City area)
12565 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
http://aframela.com/new/

LA Favorites: Café Brasil

Welcome to one of my mostest favoritest restaurants in Los Angeles, Café Brasil. One of the things I love most about my neighborhood is the variety of restaurants in the area, and this is a prime example. I had never had Brazilian food before this place, hopefully one day I’ll make it to Brazil (World Cup 2014, anyone??), but in the meantime, I will gladly come here over and over again. The location I frequent is actually the second of two (the first is on Venice Boulevard), which I prefer as A. It’s thisclose to my place and B. I may be mistaken, but I think the Venice Blvd location doesn’t serve alcohol. (You’ll see why this is important below!) Also it’s unpretentious (a bonus in LA) and never crowded (another bonus in LA), where you can sit and enjoy your meal and chat for a couple hours, or if you’re like J, have your eyes glued to the flat-screen TVs playing soccer games and not pay any attention to your dinner companion. Ahem.

Café Brasil is actually part of the Villa Brasil Motel, which is right next door and is ridiculously cute.

I highly, highly recommend the caipirinha. Theirs is actually not made with the traditional cachaça (sugar cane rum), but sake. And if you’re a bit of a lightweight like me, one of these and you’re good to go. Also a must is a side of fried yucca!

I always order the same thing– grilled dark meat chicken, which comes with grilled onions and the most succulent plantains ever, and a choice of salad, black bean soup (deliciously spicy and thick) or lentil soup (just as delicious but a lighter option.) Even the rice is spectacular. Then to finish it all off, traditional Brazilian candies, a beijinho de coco (left, made with sweetened condensed milk and coconut), and a brigadeiro, (right, made with sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder.) Don’t get me started on sweetened condensed milk, which is the way to a Filipino girl’s heart. Just give me a can of the stuff and a spoon and call it a day.

LA Favorites: Griffith Observatory

After over 4 years of living in Los Angeles, I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit Griffith Observatory. Open since 1935, the observatory boasts not only a stunning view of all of the LA area (and great photo ops!), but also educational exhibits and beautiful architecture. Though often packed with tourists and locals alike, you can still find a cozy little nook to watch the sunset and admire the twinkling lights below as night falls. Okay, enough talk… I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

LA Favorites: El Matador State Beach

Tucked away off of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is a little treasure called El Matador State Beach. Down a dirt path and a flight of stairs, I found myself looking upon one of the most beautiful places Los Angeles has to offer. Though it’s not the ideal place for surfing or even swimming, it is a great place to just sit and watch the waves crash against the rocks, a place where you don’t have to think about anything else at all.










LA Favorites: The Mar Vista Farmers’ Market

One of my favorite things about Southern California is the plethora of farmers’ markets, and one of my favorite things about my LA neighborhood is the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market.  I’ve been to the huge, amazing Los Angeles Farmers’ Market, I’ve been to the diverse and hugely popular (read: crowded) Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, but there’s something nice and quaint about being able to take a Sunday morning stroll just a few blocks away to pick up some fresh produce.

Mar Vista is a somewhat small up-and-coming area of West Los Angeles, tucked somewhere in between Culver City and Venice.  Restaurants and boutiques seem to always be popping up, and even the farmers’ market itself appears to be expanding every time I go.  Like many farmers’ markets, Mar Vista’s offers a variety of not only produce, but locally made goods, crafts, plants, and services, made-to-order food from a wide variety of vendors, and even the occasional cooking class!  So next time you’re in the area on a Sunday morning, indulge yourself and grab some homemade chips and salsa, roasted corn, vegan kimchee, a couple of empanadas… or, if you’re anything like me, how about a little bit of everything?