Vegetarians, blindfolds on. 

TASTE IT LA: Spring Street Smokehouse HICKORY BBQ SAUCE on...anything.

To think that all this time I was going to Chinatown for the Chinese food.
Don't get me wrong, I love me some Baby Blues BBQ "Big Blue" plate with okra and collard greens but I'm not sure I can ever go back after dinner at Spring Street Smoke House. 

My date and I ordered the "The Kitchen Sink" for 2, spicy, with Mac-n-cheese (c'mon you know it,) baked beans, collard greens & cornbread. (No flash on the pics guys, didn't want to be obvious here.)
I'm seldom impressed or surprised but the spicy, smoky flavor of their BBQ sauce impressed me and I'm still talking about the amazing flavor of their homemade hickory BBQ sauce and the size portions of their tender cooked meats.
The restaurant was almost full when we arrived and, while the kitchen could have had timing issues with so many customers at once, the southern-grunge clad service was prompt and so was the food.  POINTS for TIMING IN THE KITCHEN & sending out my MAC n CHEESE still hot n gooey.
The cornbread had a nice kick from the baked jalepenos but it was extremely dry, which was my only complaint.  IRRELEVANT because their BBQ sauce WAS THAT GOOD. Hickory smoked for up to 18 hours. And the ribs? Baby-back or Beef... Ob. Sessed.
The casual-cozy dining area also features is a beer wall behind the bar boasting their many crafstman-style beer and wine options. Feeling bold I tried the Yeti Imperial Stout and yes it tastes just like it sounds, strong and like it will kick your *ss.
This is the perfect place to take the date you want to get messy with or the in-law that boastfully flashes their too sweet sauce recipe every 4th of July.

If your going EMAIL ME and if I'm in the area I'll meet you there. It's that good and I would love to feature your reactions bc I can't beilieve they only got 3 1/2 stars on Yelp!

Spring St. Smoke House 
640 N. Spring St.

DTLA 90012

TASTE IT LA: A Caffeinated Accident @ Cafecito Organico

TASTE IT LA: Cafecito Organico's non-fat latte

I took the Rover to get serviced HERE (ask for Leo) and after I was disappointed to find there was nothing to eat within walking distance to try something new for you guys I was informed that there was a coffee shop located diagonally across the street and although coffee was not my first desire I decided it would curb the craving a bit to endure the wait while my car was checked out.

I think Cafecito Organicos rivals Intellegentsia in smooth flavor but the interior is tiny and dingy and could absolutely be (easily) better maintained, (I visited their N. Hoover location.)  One side of this tiny room holds a counter for the coffee/register/display which the coffee machines & barista reside behind and there is another counter on the opposing wall for accoutrements after you pay.  They have wi-fi but you have to sit outside (which is ok on a clear day) at any of the tiny wrought iron tables strewn about outside.  Irregardless of the dingy interior I hesitantly ordered a non-fat latte to go (which comes standard with 2 shots) from the barista and surprisingly the coffee was worth the aesthetic risk.  Cafecito Organico boasts sustainable practices, chemical free crops and they roast their beans located in limited quantities which are available for purchase at either of their stores or on the weekends at their farmers market locations. They offer several in house blends which are all available to order per cup & you can purchase any of their bagged beans to-go. 

A unexpectedly delicious accident and I would definitely make this my morning go-to cup of coffee.  Smooth and delicious and perfect for the Rover-wait if your in the area.

Cafecito Organico
534 N. Hoover St. 
LA 90026

Also found on Yelp here.

TASTE IT LA: LOT 18 - Wine, Chocolate & an Experience

TASTE IT LA: LOT18 - For the Wine & Foodie Elite.
Curated wine and chocolates... and I can have dinner with La Bernardin?!
Ob. Sessed.
SIGN UP HERE (for free of course) to recieve EXCLUSIVE access to LOT18.
With their newly launched website that began this year Lot 18 Gourmet provides invitation only access to the finest vineyards, wines, and one of a kind culinary adventures.  Lot18 handpicked their featured gourmet food artisans featuring foodie-grade products and a carefully curated wine selection.
Im obsessed. Can you tell? Its the "Experiences" section.
Wine tasteing for $35!!! I have to go plan my trip... let me know if your going!!
 Register now for exlusive invation-only access.
I know.  Your welcome.

TASTE IT LA: Gluten Free Girl Crush

I never thought I would find the one...but O. M. G. I'm. In. Love.
OH Heidi. Was it your Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti? Or your Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg free, Gingerbread? (GINGERBREAD HOUSES!!!)

TASTE IT LA: 12 Days of Gluten Free Christmas cookies!

I know a lot of you have food allegies and/or dietary restrictions that limit your options during the holidays, especially when it comes to cookies.
Not any more! Check out Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom and her recipes for 12 Days of Gluten Free Christmas cookies! (And she's only on day 6!) Omg LOVE!


Taste It LA: Dragon Dessert Salad

My mother is a vegetarian and tried to raise me the same way (sorry Momma I love bacon!!!) But as a result of that I am obsessed with the unconventional salad. The everything but the kitchen sink salad. The what the hell did you order salad.
The typical side house salad with lettuce and tomato just doesn't cut it for me and certainly you vegetarian types should have options! Eliminating meat-protiens from your diet might seem like you lessen your options but I think this simply provides you an opportunity for healthy creativity.

Recipes for healthy creativity: 
Check out this delicious salad from BLDs kitchen, kindly posted via LA Times: Fresh Vegetable Salad  
Also, from the LA Times Kitchen, Butterflied Roasted Eggplant Salad & the simple but mouthwatering Tomato & White Bean salad (I add a ton of avocado to this one.)
Whether its toasted for its nutty flavor or coated in sherry dressing, Bulgar is an amazing grain base for any salad and one of my favorites. Bulgar salad with arugala, zucchini and pine nuts. 
Dessert salads?!!! YES ITS TRUE! Check LA Times Watermelon with Mint & Lime salad -Drizzle Honey on top for an extra sweet kick.

And one of my own SUPER SIMPLE and HEALTHY Dessert Salads as pictured: 

1 large dragonfruit
1 large handful of figs
2 pluquot or sweet plums
1 half avocado

gorgonzola or feta crumble

1 pinch cayanne pepper 

1 pinch large grain sea salt
1 pinch black pepper

1 squirt lime juice

Rinse & Section the fruit & avocado.
In a mixing bowl add fruit & avacado  then sprinkle lime juice, sea salt, cayenne pepper over top and toss to coat. Move to serving dish and sprinkle gorgonzola cheese or feta on top and drizzle honey to taste.  

TASTE IT LA: PETE's CAFE - D'Artagnan approved!

TASTE IT LA: PETE'S CAFE -Downtown Los Angeles

A super picky eater approves!!!

D'Artagnan Eco recommends Petes Cafe Downtown because he can hang out on the dog friendly patio during happy hour while his Momma chit-chats Taste It LA with the locals.

TASTE IT LA: Goat Cheese Tart, Chicken Pot Pie, Mac N Cheese & Roasted Free Range Chicken(as pictured being devoured.) Belvy Bloody Mary (w/ Belvedere)

Meet the canine critic: D'Artagnan Eco (also known as "El Lobo" in my surrounding community) eats what I do... usually. It's the times he turns his pink puppy nose up at my delicious beer basted roast lamb chop that I wonder how is it again that a former pound puppy, found depressed and near dead, developed such a refined palate?!
Oh yes, totally my fault :)
When I found him and brought him home from an LA County animal shelter a few years ago he was extremely ill and would not eat anything and he barely had enough energy to move.  In a desperate new-mom attempt to get this weak dog to eat I tried to hand feed him dog food for days to no avail. He would barely lift his head let alone look at you.  Sick, exausted and depressed he just wasn't interested.  Finally frustrated I sat down next to him on the floor with my croissant to have a talk.  As I took my first bite I suddenly I saw his head shift and his eyes rolled ever so slightly in my direction. What was this new smell??? I tore the croissant in half and placed it in front of his nose and I swear I had never seen coke eyes on a dog before until that day.  He devoured it in seconds and began pacing the room sniffing for more.  Instantly a pup-foodie-critic was born and the dry dog-kibble bag went into the trash.  To this day he will not eat a single brand of dry dog food. Kibble-snob.

Pete's Cafe
400 S Main St
DTLA 90013

TASTE IT LA: Urban Noodle - Downtown LA

TASTE IT LA: (VEGGIES REJOICE!) Hiyayakko, Edamami & Tofu Salad, Cubed Fried Tofu with black bean sauce.

I get you, Urban Noodle. You thrive on the noon-day noodle vamps sucking down Roast Duck noodles or slurping on Dan Dan.  The downtown lunch crowd needs options and you are more than happy to provide a variety of noodle soups at $10-$14 a bowl to patrons released ravenous from their cubicles come noon.  
Its not the best Thai food Ive ever had but it has some delicious lunch options to transport you away to an exotic locale for at least the length of your lunch-break.
TASTE IT LA: Vegetarians try the Hiyayakko with soy bean paste glaze, Fried Tofu Cubes or the Dan Dan noodles.
Carnies(HA!) aka Meat lovers try the Pork Cucumber noodles, the BBQ Pork noodles or a BBQ Pork Sticky Bun.

TASTE IT LA: XLIXE Pizza -Little Tokyo

XLIXE Pizza: 
Best thing to happen to Little Tokyo since Sushi Gen!

TASTE IT LA: THE BEST GARLIC KNOTS IN LA. Pizza: Rancher, Philly Cheese steak or Matador. Watermelon Bellini or any of their daily IPA specials. 

Omg you tiny doughy knots of pure olive oil infused love and drenched in garlic goodness...ahem.
Best garlic knots I've had since I left New York. Crisp on top and smothered in fresh garlic and lightly soaked only half though with olive oil. Ask for a side of their hot homemade marinara sauce. Meatlover's try a slice of their Rancher, Philly Cheese steak or Matador pizza with oxtail. 
Is it the New York style this east coast transplant, co-owner Vanessa Baek, infuses into her mouthwatering pizza flavor combinations? While pondering you can sip on any one of their constantly rotating locally sourced craft beers. Happy Hour is 4-7 during 
the week and ALL DAY Sat&Sun. 

432 E. 2nd St.
LA 90012
213 620 0513
Parking: $3.00 with validation, free for pickup

TASTE IT LA: Umami Burger La Brea


Umami Burger brags that they "grind their own meat, process their own cheese & pickle their own veggies - because they care" and indeed the difference in taste and quality of the ingredients deserves the boasting. Thank you Adam Fleischman. I heart you too. 
Fleischman, formerly of Bottle Rock-Culver City, began his chain of Umami Burgers with his La Brea location. Proving you don't need much more than a few tables in a tiny room when you have Umami, that sought after indescribable fifth taste (somewhere between OMG and heavenly) that the Japanese swear makes your taste-buds dance.  Umami Burger-La Brea offers an urban hipster ambiance where burger afficianados can grab a gourmet burger and Cake Monkey sweets while sipping a Root Beer Float and scribbling your own crayon-art on the paper tablecloth.  
I chose the Truffle Burger and my date decided on the classic Umami Burger and we split the SoCal burger, malt-liquor-tempura onion rings, sweet potato and regular skinny fries served up with a small jar of homemade ketchup. Ambitious? HA!  
I took my first bite of Truffle Burger, paused and suddenly began humming the only Japanese 'hymn of praise' I knew: 'Kimi Ga Yo,' the Japanese national anthem.  Umami does exist.  
Browned on the grill and finished in the oven, my burger was cooked medium but seems to deliciously drip medium-rare.  The skinny fries were salted to perfection and were balanced perfectly with the sweet,  crunchy caramelized sweet potato fries. Their onion rings are now on my Top Ten Onion Rings of LA list.  Im not sold on the Cake Monkey products they offer in-house and would prefer Umami Burger offered their own umami-desserts but the Cake Monkey Cherry Almond Pie was an excellent way to bring me down off my umami induced high and help me appreciate the true beauty of their burgers.


TASTE IT: AGUA FRESCA (changes daily,) Beirut Lavash wrap ADD FETA! Chile-crusted Ahi Tuna Salad. Muffaletta. Seasonally changing farmers market inspired soups.
Sweets: White Chocolate and Walnut Tea Cookie. Double Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Market Restaurant, located in the Cooper Building in Downtown Los Angeles, has quickly become a go-to for the designers and fashionistas lunching in LA's Fashion District. By noon this petite casual eatery is mobbed with LA's fashion industry elite, international tourists and the occasional food snob.
For me Market Restaurant is hit or miss, but when it hits my taste-buds dance to the beat of Hey Senora. Opened by Bret Thompson, owner of sweet shop MILK , Market offers sandwiches, wraps & fresh salads based seasonally on farmers market ingredients.
Yes Market has its days when the employees are indifferent and people are waiting 10 mins too for their North African wrap which then arrives plated to stay when you clearly ordered to go.  There have been days when the Honeydew Agua Fresca has tasted like distilled melon rind,  twice I've paid for side items  never to receive them and despite being a regular the staff treats me as if I am a complete stranger.  However being a repeat (ok maybe stalker style) patron Ive noticed these things have only ever occured in the owners absence.
Despite these easily rectified kinks Market serves up simple but delicious dishes with an obvious emphasis on the freshest ingredients available and is a welcome reprieve by the urban foodies of Downtown LA who previously had to drive as far as Silverlake for mid-day takeout with such quality ingredients.
WASTED: $6 on half a "Deli" sandwich; on sourdough with sliced turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato & dijon. One slice of thin cheddar and 2 sliced of cold cut turkey slapped on 2 thick pieces of sourdough made for a rather dry sandwich-also you have to pay an extra $.50 EACH if you want lettuce and tomatoe on your sandwich. I also added pepperchinis and it wasn't even worth it. The lettuce was not the same spring mix they use for salad and it needed to be properly rinsed and 2 small peices of tomato...? And then I had to ask for the pepperchinins because none arrived on my sandwich.  This sad half deli sandwich looked as if it had literally been slapped together and thrown on my plate...  Presentation is appreciated not to mention  appealing and needless to say I won't waste another dollar on anything in their "Deli Section" simply because of that sandwich.  I had never left Market so unfulfilled. So I drove to Eastside Market to fill the empty void with a homemade meatball sub smothered in hot tomato sauce and melted cheese :)

Market Restaurant
@ The Cooper building